Health & Toxics

Posted on March 11, 2015

Why is everybody so confused about Genetically Modified Organisms? We are saturated with daily messages about GMOs, a veritable barrage about how bad they really are. It is all very ominous and fuzzy with nothing really concrete either way.  

Posted on November 05, 2014

Most people are unaware of how widespread triclosan and triclocarban chemicals are in their daily lives. Many products labelled as “antibacterial,” “fights odours” or “kills germs” may contain triclosan or triclocarban. In fact by 2001, 76% of commercial liquid hand soaps in the US contained triclosan and a wide variety of cosmetics, drugs, clothes, school products, and kitchenware also now contain this antibacterial chemical.

Posted on August 29, 2014

Lab ratFor Vancouver Island opponents of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and genetic-engineering (GE), Robert Wager has become a familiar figure. In March, Mr.

Posted on August 28, 2014

Bee on clover flower.Scientists have linked both the collapse of bee populations and the stunning decline in bird and bat numbers to a new generation of insecticides called neonicotinoids. It gets worse: these widely-used nerve poisons are also considered the main cause of a general collapse of insect life since the mid 1990s. Bug-spattered windshields have become rare where they were once common in North America and Europe.

Posted on April 12, 2014

Residues of the antimicrobial agent triclosan can paradoxically boost bacterial growth in our bodies, by giving microbes a comfortable biofilm in which to rest.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Posted on March 15, 2014
The Fluoride Action Network is excited to announce the launch of the FAN Study Tracker, the most up-to-date and comprehensive source for fluoride health research, including studies investigating how fluoride affects the brain (e.g., IQ scores), the bones/joints (e.g., arthritis), the cardiovascular system, the kidneys, and the thyroid gland.
Posted on March 11, 2014

The Electromagnetic SpectrumIn December, I had the loan of the “Gamma-Scout” Geiger counter from the Watershed Sentinel/BC Environmental Network and conducted a casual survey of various locations on Cortes Island in northern Georgia Strait, BC.

Posted on January 23, 2014

Shawnigan Lake, BC January 22, 2014:  
As part of our public information campaign to stop South Island Aggregates (SIA) aka Cobble Hill Holdings (CHH) establishing a contaminated soil dump in the basin of the Shawnigan watershed, the SRA is using a billboard to raise awareness of the permit that will negatively impact the health, economy and well-being of the people of Shawnigan Lake by jeopardizing the drinking water used by over 12,000 people.

Through a generous donation from a local Shawnigan business the billboard is being utilized to help get the message out to the people of Capital Regional District.  It is located facing southbound traffic into Victoria greeting residents, ferry and airport traffic.

"This is not merely a Shawnigan issue, the permit if not overturned is a landmark decision which will place other communities and their drinking water supplies at risk. If it can happen in Shawnigan Lake it can happen in your back yard too. The SIA soil dump is only 2.2km from the Capital Regional District's watershed boundary.  We need people to be aware that a contaminated soil dump that has the potential to leach toxins into our drinking water supply is unacceptable and must be stopped" stated Calvin Cook SRA Vice President.

Posted on February 20, 2013

Habanero pepper and prostrate cancerWhen Ed Wolf was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, he was determined to seek alternate treatment, which led him to the discovery of the cancer killing properties in habanero peppers.

Posted on October 17, 2012

There's a good chance you're cleaning your hair with an APE—an AlkylPhenol Ethoxylate—and it may not be as biodegradable as you think it is.

We all try to be careful about pouring hazardous waste down sinks, toilets and storm drains. But we may not be quite as vigilant about the contents of our bath or shower water.

Posted on October 15, 2012

Let Them Eat Plastic

Although it's been an issue of concern for many years in the scientific community, the mainstream media is only just catching up with the fact that plastics and food may not mix.

Posted on October 15, 2012

While snails undergo involuntary sex changes, the government dithers, forgetting about the precautionary principle and human health.

by Delores Broten

Tributyl tin (TBT), a substance still commonly painted on the hulls of large ships to repel barnacles and weeds, although banned for non-aluminium small boats, should be fast-tracked for virtual elimination by the Canadian government, says the World Wildlife Fund.

Posted on October 15, 2012

It's useful, alright ... it can resist rotting for 30 years or more.
Maybe that's why no one has been examining its safety too closely.

by Andrea Johnson

Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated wood, com monly known as pressurized or Wolmanized wood, is used extensively in outdoor construction: for playgrounds and picnic tables, for planters and garden furniture, for fences, decks, porches, and walkways, and for docks and wharves. This greenish-coloured wood is popular because it resists rot and can last up to 30 years. And perhaps because of its prolific use, its safety is rarely questioned.

Posted on October 15, 2012

Most things will biodegrade ... but what do they biodegrade into?

The most important question to ask yourself about the products you buy is, "What does clean really mean?" How important are polished silverware, absolutely white linens or shining floors? Are you trying to extend the useful life of the items or are you engaged in chemical warfare against dirt and germs at any price?

Posted on October 15, 2012

The pulp and paper industry is one of the largest and most polluting industries in the world; it is the third most polluting industry in North America.

by Delores Broten and Jay Ritchlin

(may be downloaded in pdf format)

Introduction

Pulp and paper mills still pollute our water, air, and soil. This guide explains how mills pollute, gives a vision for a sustainable pulp industry, and shows how British Columbia's "Zero AOX" law can help achieve a pulp and paper industry that sustains the environment, healthy communities, and jobs. This Pulp Pollution Primer explains the basic facts of pulp mill pollution, presents alternatives, and examines industry's resistance to change.

Posted on October 13, 2012

Spreading pathogenic material on farmlands, with little supervision, is a medieval practice with potentially disastrous consequences.

by Maureen Reilly

July 18, 2000: It was a week into the Walkerton crisis, and Ontario was still in shock. Hundreds of people sick, deaths reported daily because the town drinking water was contaminated with E Coli 0157.

Posted on October 13, 2012

In the Kootenays, MoF agrees to try manual brushing. Here's how it happened.

Sometime before noon July 6, 2000 a green Ministry of Forestry (MoF) pick up pulled into the Non-Violent Action Group (NAG) information camp, 10.5 km up the Duncan Lake forestry road at the Glacier Creek bridge.

Posted on October 13, 2012

Sewage system information for recently rural residents.

by Cliff Turner

It's easy to get information on how to maintain a compost bin, but septic tanks, which operate with a similar biological breakdown of food or waste, seem more mysterious. The septic tank is an essential part of a sewage system. Here are some points to remember about the "care and feeding" of that part of the sewage treatment system.

Posted on October 13, 2012

The issue, already ensconced in American law, has not even begun to register on the Canadian policy agenda.

by Peter D. Carter, MD

Although the last throne speech promised action for Canada's children and action for Canada's environment, our government just can't seem to put the two together.

Posted on October 10, 2012

by Delores Broten

What can we do with sewage sludge? This is an increasingly troublesome issue, as more towns and cities put in efficient water treatment plants to improve the quality of the water they put back into lakes, rivers and the ocean. Back on land, the result is sewage treatment plant sludge, containing valuable nutrients, the toxics of industrial society, and all our diseases. Burning sludge is a nasty pastime, which releases heavy metals and dioxins into the air, and wastes the organic material which has passed through the human digestive tract.

Posted on October 10, 2012

by Danielle Lemire and Tara Lindsay

The cost of doing laundry or unclogging the drain is far greater than the price we pay at the supermarket. Most of us have learned that the best cleaners must have strong scents and warning labels on them to conquer dirt. Common cleaning products injure lungs, skin and our reproductive and endocrine systems. Children are particularly vulnerable because they absorb more chemical residues through their immature lungs and intestines than fully developed adults.

Posted on October 10, 2012

The new century opens with a gift for future generations
an anti-pollution treaty based on elimination and the Precautionary Principle
.

by Delores Broten

On Wednesday December 6th, in the year 2000, the email messages from toxics activists attending the UN negotiating session in Johannesburg South Africa portrayed a disaster. "A lot of us don't think we'll leave here with a Treaty at all," the tired messages said, "and maybe it would be better not to have a Treaty than to have a bad one."

Posted on October 09, 2012

Chlorinated water: are short-term gains worth long-term pains?

by Cliff Turner

"The dynamic growth of chlorine chemistry during the 1950s and 1960s represents a decisive mistake in 20th-century industrial development, which would not have occurred, had our present knowledge of the environmental damage and health risks due to chlorine chemistry been available then." -- German Council of Experts for Environmental Issues, 1990

Posted on October 09, 2012

Mad Cow disease is not to be taken lightly, but so far, our precautionary measures have been woefully inadequate.

The Canadian Health Coalition, Fact Sheets 1, 2, & 3

Mad Cow disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is a fatal brain-wasting disease in cattle, which was first identified in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1986. The disease has an incubation period lasting four to five years, but ultimately is fatal for cattle within weeks of its onset.1

Posted on October 09, 2012

Prevention is ignored if it doesn't promise to produce big profits.

by Peter Montague

Breast cancer kills 46,000 women in the US each year. On average, each of these women has her life cut short by 20 years, for a total loss of about a million person-years of productive life each year. Of course this huge cost to society is heaped on even greater burdens, the personal anguish and suffering, the motherless children, the shattered families.

Posted on October 09, 2012

IN THE UNITED STATES: Landspreading Rules Under Investigation

by Doris Cellarius, California Sierra Club

Since the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved land spreading of sewage sludge in 1993, the neighbours of sludge sites, concerned citizens, environmental groups, and scientists have protested the weaknesses of this program and the harm resulting from it.

Posted on October 09, 2012

Is Canadian meat safe to eat, or just another hazard to our health?

by Brad Duplisea, Canadian Health Coalition

REPORT

A recent audit of Canada's food-inspection system by the European Commission (EC) raises serious questions about the safety of Canadian meat.

Posted on October 09, 2012

What do rec centres and care homes have in common? They've been using toxic cleaners, but now workers and unions are cleaning up the cleaners.

by Sean Griffin

Nancy Jir, a member of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union-CAW (Canadian Auto Workers) who works at Canadian Fishing Company in Vancouver, doesn't usually talk much at meetings. But when she stepped forward at a union environment workshop last year to explain how the commercial cleaning materials she was using at the plant were giving her rashes and chronic eye irritation, she had no idea of the campaign it would spark.

Posted on October 09, 2012

Excerpted from the forthcoming book by Anna Tilman

This is a story on how my involvement in mercury began and where it has taken me from a very personal perspective. I call it "my story."

For the past year or so, I have become engulfed, entrenched, immersed and strangely fascinated and horrified by mercury. Whatever information I have uncovered or discovered about mercury, it is never enough and I search for more.

Posted on October 08, 2012

Canada's toxic policies fail again. Health Canada's risk assessment says BC oysters should be consumed "in moderation" but no one told the local shellfish farmers or communities about the advice.

by Delores Broten

In 1999, shipments of oysters from British Columbia were turned back from the Hong Kong market because they exceeded limits on cadmium for imported shellfish. In 2000, testing of farmed oysters around Georgia Strait by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that some BC oysters were extremely high in cadmium and the mean cadmium content was one third higher than Hong Kong standards.

Posted on October 03, 2012

Vancouver was a known hot spot and NO ONE is checking the health impacts.

by Frank Rotering

A recent US study has acknowledged for the first time that fallout from nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s and early 1960s exposed the entire US population to radiation. Although levels were low, they were higher than previously suspected, and heavily concentrated in a number of "hot spots," including California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Posted on October 03, 2012

Friends of Cortes Island Society is just beginning a new Water Stewardship project. The community consultation program will work with you to assess your fresh and waste water issues and provide you with economical and innovative options for local, environmentally sound septic alternatives that meet the needs of individual homeowners, as well as larger developments.

by Kathy Smail

Like our garbage, a large proportion of our poop on Cortes Island is regularly trucked off-island to Campbell River. This means that, after trucking, ferries, and dumping into a secondary treatment facility to be aerated, settled and clarified, the solids (sludge) are piled up in a field and the liquid is sent down a big pipe into the ocean that feeds us.

Posted on September 28, 2012

by Cathy Holtslander

Pigs are taking the rap for the global outbreak of swine flu, but the pandemic was never their fault. In­fluenza is a social disease, and this pandemic is a social phenomenon. We’re in the thick of it now and pub­lic health agencies around the world are doing their best to minimize suffering and limit deaths.

Posted on September 26, 2012

by Judy Brady

It is estimated that over 22,000 women and men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and nearly ten times as many in the United States.
Almost a quarter of these people will die.

Ever since it dawned on me that having been swaddled in a pink blanket set me on a course of considerably more limited choices than those available to the baby wrapped in a blue blanket, I’ve been wary of anything that comes in pink. But in October it’s impossible to avoid pink. Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) is upon us and millions of little pink ribbons on millions of lapels exhort us to be “aware” of breast cancer.

Posted on September 26, 2012

by Devra Davis

By the turn of the 18th century, the path-breaking Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini had documented more than three dozen different cancer-prone professions. At that point the disease was still uncommon and usually lethal.
Ramazzini did not know which specific part of the job caused which maladies, but he knew that people in many different jobs were subject to risk, including miners of coal, lead, arsenic and iron, metal gilders, chemists, potters, tinsmiths, glassmakers, painters, tobacco workers, lime workers, tanners, weavers, coppersmiths, mirror makers, painters, sulphur workers,

Posted on September 14, 2012

Researchers have found 167 chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in the blood and urine of nine adult Americans. The study, which was led by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, in collaboration with the Environmental Working Group and Commonweal, appears in a recently published edition of the journal Public Health Reports (Thornton, et al. 2002). It is the first publicly available, comprehensive look at the chemical burden we carry in our bodies.

Posted on September 14, 2012

When you coat a shell with it, it slices through armoured plating as if it was cheese, turning tanks, buildings and bomb shelters into exploding incinerators.

It causes cancer among people who breathe its dust, or touch it. It causes horrible birth defects among the babies of pregnant women who breathe it or touch it. It causes a host of chronic ailments and sicknesses among returning troops.

Posted on August 30, 2012

Everyone in New Jersey lives within 10 miles of a toxic dump. It seems like a good place to start applying the Precautionary Principle.

by Peter Montague
Excerpted from Rachel’s Environment & Health News #763, Electronic Edition, April 2003

Posted on August 24, 2012

Cancer is an epidemic: 41% of Ca­nadian males and nearly 38% of Canadian females will develop some form of the disease, and 27% of males and 23% of females will die from it. And the incidence is going up. From 1970 to 1998, after controlling for ag­ing, the incidence of cancer in Canada increased by 35% for men and 27% for women. After years of denial, the US National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society admitted at the turn of the millennium that the incidence of cancer is expected to double by 2050.

While the medical profession and cancer research institutions attribute most of the cancer increase to

Posted on August 23, 2012

Dozens of household products and pesticides on retail shelves across Canada contain carcinogens, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and reproductive toxins. Yet most consumers have little idea what they’re being exposed to.

That could change this year with the release of the CancerSmart Consumer Guide, published in March by the Labour Environmental Alliance Society (LEAS) and just hitting distribution networks now. 

The first of its kind in Canada, the 24-page guide identifies carcinogens, reproductive toxins

Posted on August 23, 2012

by Lee Staples

As gases go, hydrogen sulfide isn’t the best of bedfellows. H2S has the distinct honor of being extremely poisonous, highly corrosive, explosive, colourless, and foul smelling. Natural gases imbued with anywhere from trace amounts to high percentages of hydrogen sulfide are referred to as sour and they can pack quite the punch. 

Humans are likely to smell the rotten egg associated with hydrogen sulfide well below one part per

Posted on August 17, 2012

The government wouldn’t let toxic chemicals which could harm us be used in daily life. That’s one common assumption. Other people assume that there is no process in place to track and assess the thousands of chemicals in our daily lives. Neither assumption is correct.

by Delores Broten

Behind the scenes for the last 5 years, Health Canada and Environment Canada, with the sometimes vigourous advice of environmentalists from a dozen

Posted on August 17, 2012

by Angela K. Spivey, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Suicide rates two and three times the average in North Carolina counties may be linked to releases of hydrogen sulfide and other airborne chemicals from a nearby paper mill and possibly other industrial sites, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel

Posted on August 17, 2012

Students and parents don’t have the right-to-know, right-to-participate,  and right-to-refuse exposure to harmful substances, so the Labour Environmental Alliance (LEAS) is promoting a Students’ Environmental Bill of Rights which will allow them to do so.

Posted on August 17, 2012

When it comes to our children, it is better to be safe than sorry. We can all take action to protect children from being exposed to harmful pollutants. We can do this by “childproofing” our homes, schools and communities for environmental health.

Posted on July 18, 2012

Cancer is mostly thought of as being caused by smoking, heriditary genes, and personal lifestyles. It is a tendancy to ignore the fact that environmental and chemical exposure may be a larger cause of cancer.

Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic, Guy Dauncey, Liz Armstrong and Anne Wordsworth. Paperback, 336 pgs, New Society Publishers, 2007. ISBN: 9780865715424. $27.95

“Paradigm” is a useful word that describes a predominant theory and the assumptions that underpin it. Paradigms are a bit like the gospels — they are believed and rarely questioned.

Posted on July 17, 2012

by Delores Broten 

“Skin Deep,” “Deadly for Beauty,” “Is Your Make up Killing You?” The headlines are irresistible, but the story behind them is sickening. Cosmetics, from skin cream to mascara, bath oils to sun screen, contain a riotous mishmash of harmful ingredients. At least one brand of mascara has mercury in it; a third of tested red lipsticks contain high levels of lead. Even some of the products which are labeled hypo-allergenic contain carcinogens, known human immune system toxicants, and sensitizers. 

To see how extensive the problem was, and to try to kick start this story, I asked a half dozen of my friends, none of them heavy cosmetic users, for their top three products. About half of the list turned out to be ill-advised at best, even among this health-conscious crowd, and to one of them I had to reply, “Ditch the face cream – the database says 80% of all creams are less toxic than that one.” 

Posted on July 17, 2012

by Anna Tilman and Delores Broten 

Tens of thousands of substances have been in commercial use in Canada for decades without any assessment of their potential toxicity to human health or the environment. It was only in 1994 that the picture brightened when Canada began to require such an evaluation before any new substance could be placed on the market. 

Posted on July 11, 2012

Plastics are widely used to store and package foods and beverages. Plastic is convenient, lightweight, unbreakable and relatively inexpensive. However, there are both environmental and health risks from the widespread use of plastics. 

Environmental problems: Most plastics are made from petroleum, a non-renewable and mostly

Posted on July 11, 2012

by Delores Broten 

In October, the Canadian government broke the mould and followed through on its announcement of the first measures in the world to control exposure to bisphenol A (BPA). The chemical will be banned from baby bottles because of its effects on the development of young children. 

The government said that there was no scientific proof that the compound, added to hard plastics of all sorts from drinking bottles to cds, as well as epoxies and

Posted on June 09, 2011

by Susan MacVittie

Studies are showing that some of the ingredients in sun screens may have adverse affects on our health and the environment. As summer heats up it's time to learn about the pros and cons of lathering on suntan lotion.

Ultra-Violet Rays

Posted on August 12, 2009

by Philip Dickey

Turn on the TV or read any home-oriented magazine and you'll see them. Ads for all kinds of household products containing germ-killing ingredients are everywhere. Hand soap, dishwashing liquid, underwear, kitchen sponges, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mattresses, cutting boards, window cleaner, socks, cycling shorts, chop sticks, and facial tissues are all being marketed for their ability to kill germs.

It's been estimated that more than 700 antimicrobial-infused products are now available, including 76% of

Posted on June 10, 2009

by Susan MacVittie

Sunscreen has been touted over the past several decades as an essential protector from the sun's burning rays and the advent of skin cancer, but some Canadian dermatologists say that the incidence rates have more than doubled in the last 20 years for all types of skin cancer.

Posted on December 15, 2008

by Susan MacVittie

The nitrogen-rich industrial chemical Melamine was added to watered-down milk to mask the resulting protein deficiency and fool quality tests.

Offshore outsourcing has been a boon to the modern globalized economy, but regulating what happens in a factory half way across the world is difficult and - as in the recent case of the melamine scandal in China – can be deadly business.