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Lipstick Poses Lead Hazard

In the United States, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cosmetic safety under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) – which requires that  cosmetics marketed in interstate commerce be safe when used as directed in the labeling or under customary conditions of use.  However, there is presently no specification relating to the amount of lead in cosmetics, which can be present via pigment ingredients.  In the spring of 2010, the FDA procured 400 commercially available lipsticks on the US market and tested each for total lead content. The selection of lipsticks tested was based on the parent company’s market share; additionally, lipsticks from niche markets were included, in an effort to capture lipsticks with unusual characteristics.  The analyses revealed an average lead concentration in the 400 lipsticks of 1.11 ppm, with two major retail brands testing at 7 ppm or greater.  It is noteworthy that the FDA-recommended upper limit for lead in candy is 0.1 parts per million (ppm).

Hepp, N.M.., “Determination of Total Lead in 400 Lipsticks on the U.S. Market Using a Validated Microwave-Assisted Digestion, Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometric Method,” Journal of Cosmetic Science, May/June, 2012.

Plastic Food Wrap Poses Food Safety Risk

Foods wrapped in plastic wrap may expose people to bisphenol A and phthalates, compounds regarded as endocrine disruptors with potential risks to human health. Ruthann A Rudel, from the Silent Spring Institute (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues conducted a short intervention trial involving five families, each with two children, who were enrolled in a three-phase study that lasted eight days.  Making the switch to fresh food resulted in a 66% drop in participants' urinary concentration of bisphenol A, and metabolites of a commonly used phthalate -- bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP -- fell by between 53% and 56% within a few days.  The team reports that: “BPA and DEHP exposures were substantially reduced when participants’ diets were restricted to food with limited packaging.”

Ruthann A Rudel, Janet M Gray, Connie L Engel, Teresa W Rawsthorne, Robin E Dodson, Janet M Ackerman, Jeanne Rizzo, Janet L Nudelman, Julia Green Brody.  “Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention.” Environ Health Perspect 2011; 119: 914 - 920.

Chemicals in Personal Care Products May Raise Diabetes Risk

Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products such as body moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes. They are also used in adhesives, electronics, toys and a variety of other products.  Tamarra James-Todd, from Brigham and Women's Hospital (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues analyzed urinary concentrations of phthalates in 2,350 women enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Women with higher levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to have diabetes; specifically, women who had the highest levels of the chemicals mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate had almost twice the risk of diabetes compared to women with the lowest levels of those chemicals.  Secondly, the team observed that women with higher than median levels of the chemical mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate had approximately a 60% increased risk of diabetes. And thirdly, women with moderately high levels of the chemicals mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate had approximately a 70% increased risk of diabetes.  Writing that: “Urinary levels of several phthalates were associated with prevalent diabetes,” the study authors urge for:  “Future prospective studies are needed to further explore these associations to determine whether phthalate exposure can alter glucose metabolism, and increase the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.”

Tamarra James-Todd, Richard Stahlhut, John D Meeker, Sheena-Gail Powell, Russ Hauser, Tianyi Huang, Janet Rich-Edwards.  “Urinary Phthalate Metabolite Concentrations and Diabetes among Women in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008.” Environ Health Perspectives, July 13, 2012.

BPA Exposure in Pregnancy Linked to Behavioral Problems in Offspring

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a man-made chemical present in a variety of products including food containers, receipt paper and dental sealants and is now widely detected in human urine and blood. Public health concerns have been fueled by findings that BPA exposure can influence brain development. In mice, prenatal exposure to BPA is associated with increased anxiety, aggression and cognitive impairments.  Emilie Rissman, from the University of Virginia School of Medicine (Virginia, USA), and colleagues fed female mice chow with or without BPA before mating and throughout gestation. Plasma levels of BPA in supplemented female mice were in a range similar to those measured in humans. Juveniles in the first generation exposed to BPA in utero displayed fewer social interactions as compared with control mice. The changes in genes were most dramatic in the first generation (the offspring of the mice that were exposed to BPA in utero), but some of these gene changes persisted into the fourth generation. Observing that: “exposure to a low dose of BPA, only during gestation, has immediate and long-lasting, transgenerational effects on mRNA in brain and social behaviors,” the study authors conclude that: “Heritable effects of an endocrine-disrupting chemical have implications for complex neurological diseases and highlight the importance of considering gene-environment interactions in the etiology of complex disease.”

Jennifer T. Wolstenholme, Michelle Edwards, Savera R. J. Shetty, Jessica D. Gatewood, Julia A. Taylor, Emilie F. Rissman, et al.  “Gestational Exposure to Bisphenol A Produces Transgenerational Changes in Behaviors and Gene Expression.” Endocrinology en.2012-1195.

Common Chemical May Raise Diabetes Risk

Phthalates are found in numerous household products, such as food packaging, furniture, and toys, cosmetics, and medical products including pharmaceutical drugs, medical-grade tubing and intravenous bags.  P. Monica Lind, from Uppsala University (Sweden), and colleagues analyzed data collected on more than 1,000 Swedish men and women, ages 70 years and up, enrolled in the PIVUS study.  In a physical examination participants were examined for fasting blood sugar and various insulin measures. They submitted blood samples for analysis of various environmental toxins, including several substances formed when the body breaks down so-called phthalates. Most people come into daily contact with phthalates as they are used a softening agents in plastics and as carriers of perfumes in cosmetics and self-care products. As expected, diabetes was more common among participants who were overweight and had high blood lipids. But the researchers also found a connection between blood levels of some of the phthalates and increased prevalence of diabetes, even after adjusting for obesity, blood lipids, smoking, and exercise habits. Individuals with elevated phthalate levels had roughly twice the risk of developing diabetes compared with those with lower levels. They also found that certain phthalates were associated with disrupted insulin production in the pancreas. Submitting that: "this cross-sectional study showed that several phthalate metabolites are related to diabetes prevalence, as well as to markers of insulin secretion and resistance,” the study authors conclude that: "These findings support the view that these commonly used chemicals might influence major factors that are regulating glucose metabolism in humans at the level of exposure of phthalate metabolites seen in the general elderly population.”

P. Monica Lind, Bjorn Zethelius, Lars Lind. “Circulating Levels of Phthalate Metabolites Are Associated With Prevalent Diabetes in the Elderly.” Diabetes Care, April 12, 2012.

Plastics Chemical Increases Future Risk of Heart Disease

Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly used in the manufacture of plastic water bottles and the lining of food cans.  A number of previous studies have suggested BPA is an endocrine disruptor with potential risks to human health.  David Melzer, from Peninsula Medical School (United Kingdom), and colleagues used data from the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC), comparing urine BPA measures from 758 initially healthy EPIC study respondents who later developed cardiovascular disease, and 861 respondents who remained heart disease free. The researchers revealed that those who developed heart disease tended to have higher urinary BPA concentrations at the start of the 10-year period.

David Melzer, Nicholas J. Osborne, William E. Henley, Ricardo Cipelli, Anita Young,  Cathryn Money, et al.  “Urinary Bisphenol: A Concentration and Risk of Future Coronary Artery Disease in Apparently Healthy Men and Women.”  Circulation, February 21 2012.

Reproductive Toxin in Common Medications

Phthalates are chemical compounds that have been identified as causing adverse developmental and reproductive effects in laboratory animals.  Limited human studies have suggested a possible association of two phthalates – dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diethyl phthalate (DEP) – with male reproductive health problems.  Katherine E Kelley, from Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues have found that phthalates are present in 50 prescription and 40 over-the-counter drugs. Added to medicines as an “inactive ingredient,” phthalates are purported to coat the drug product to target the delivery of the active ingredients to a specific area of the gastrointestinal tract, or to manage its release over time.  The team warns that: “Numerous [prescription] and [over-the-counter] drug products …  may use [phthalates] as excipients in oral dosage forms. The potential effects of human exposure to these phthalates through medications are unknown and warrant further investigation.”

Katherine E Kelley, Sonia Hernandez-Díaz, Erica L Chaplin, Russ Hauser, Allen A Mitchell.  “Identification of Phthalates in Medications and Dietary Supplement Formulations in the U.S. and Canada.”  Environmental Health Perspectives, 15 Dec 2011.

Pesticide Exposure May Raise Risks of Rheumatoid Arthritis & Lupus

Previously, some studies have suggested possible links between farming and agriculture-related pesticide exposures and autoimmune disease. Christine G. Parks, from the National Institute for Environmental Health Science (North Carolina, USA), and colleagues studied non-occupational insecticide exposures and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).  Analyzing data collected on 76,861 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, ages 50 to 79 years, the researchers found that those who personally mixed or applied insecticides, primarily for in-home use, had an adjusted hazard ratio for rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus of 1.57, as compared to women who reported no exposure to the chemicals.  Importantly, the adjusted hazard ratio rose to 1.97 with 20 or more years of exposure, and to 2.04 with six or more exposures per year. Writing that: “Compared with never used, personal use of insecticides was associated with increased [rheumatoid arthritis /systemic lupus erythematosus] risk, with significant trends for greater frequency ,” the team concludes that: “These results suggest residential and work place insecticide exposure is associated with the risk of autoimmune rheumatic diseases in postmenopausal women. Although these findings require replication in other populations, they support a role for environmental pesticide exposure in the development of autoimmune rheumatic diseases.”

Christine G. Parks, Brian T. Walitt, Mary Pettinger, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, Anneclaire J. de Roos, Julie Hunt, Gloria Sarto, Barbara V. Howard.  “Insecticide use and risk of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study.”  Arthritis Care & Research, Volume 63, Issue 2, February 2011.

Testimonies in support of House Bill 1055

An act relative to childhood immunizations 

June  2011


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