Researchers rush to link toxic chemical to health concerns

April 24, 2019 by  
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A new trend in research reflects a growing concern about the health impacts of a commonly used toxic chemical substance called PFAs (per- and polyfluoralkyl substances). The family of chemicals is pervasive in heat and water-resistant technologies– and is now found in soil, drinking water and even in human blood. “Essentially everyone has these compounds in our blood,” Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences told NPR . Related: Researchers find weedkiller ingredient Glyphosate in name brand beer and wine PFAs are valued for their resistant qualities and used in a variety of items, including food wrappers, umbrellas, tents, carpets and firefighting foams. PFAs are also used in important emerging and lifesaving technologies, including pacemakers, defibrillators, low-emission automobiles and solar panels . However, the same qualities that makes them attractive to manufacturers and consumers are also what wreaks havoc in the environment. Nicknamed the “forever chemical ” the substances have been found in lakes, rivers and drinking water reserves. Recent research also links the contaminant with serious health concerns. The first study to link PFAs to human health was conducted in 2005, when researchers discovered a connection between PFA emissions and health problems among communities in West Virginia and Ohio, such as kidney cancer and thyroid disease. Since then, there has been growing interest and funding among researchers to further explore this critical connection. Another study indicates that prevalence of PFA in the body may make people resistant to vaccines. No limits: unchecked chemical emissions The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting limitations on potential toxic chemical use and emissions, but rarely conducts studies on new chemicals until a public health concern has been raised. Currently, there is no U.S. law that prohibits the sale of a new chemicals or mandates preliminary research on health impacts.  Even after health problems have been noticed, studies require long-term analysis to prove linkages and are often too slow to prevent serious consequences. Although the science of exactly how the toxic chemicals impact human cells is not fully understood, it is clear there is a connection between their abundance in the environment and problematic health symptoms. As a result, some states have decided to develop limits for PFA prevalence in drinking water , opting to seriously consider the warnings from initial studies in order to protect current and future generations. Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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Researchers rush to link toxic chemical to health concerns

Go green in your bedroom with these sustainable decor picks

April 24, 2019 by  
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Whether you’re building, have just moved into a new home or are renovating your current room, considering eco-friendly materials can be a healthier decision for both you and the environment. Here are some floor-to-ceiling options for your space. Flooring Introduce sustainable products to your room starting from the ground up. Flooring is a significant investment during any remodel, but the price of eco-friendly options are holding pace with more conventional products these days. Cork is a natural product that doesn’t require cutting down the tree for harvest. The cork is a bark that actually grows outside the tree and is shaved off. Cork is anti-microbial and fire resistant. Bamboo , increasingly used in many products from building materials to socks, continues to see a rise in popularity because of the quick regrowth and environmentally friendly growing practices. Glass tiles, concrete and rubber are other options. If you are looking for carpet, check into wool or those made with recycled plastic (PET). Related: The best eco-friendly floor options for your home Paint In your effort to bring the green into your bedroom, choose any color of recycled paint . More and more companies are recycling unused paint, bringing it back to life instead of adding to the waste stream. There are also paints with soybean and sunflower oils as well as recycled plastic for the resin. Vegetable matter, clay, chalk and other natural materials are just some of the options paint manufacturers have incorporated into their products. Furniture With new flooring and wall color, it might be time to switch out the bedroom furniture, too. Fortunately, there are many furniture options that offer a sustainable solution. You can choose from bamboo and other natural woods, of course. But then there are furniture options made with recycled materials like the Sactional , which recycles water bottles in the manufacturing process. Buying pre-owned items is another earth-friendly option. If you decide to buy new, look for companies with good sustainability practices like West Elm, which is FSC- and fair-trade certified and made in the U.S. Plants Incorporating houseplants into your interior design not only adds visual interest and the calming vibes of nature, but also freshens the air by adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. Plants in your bedroom can hang from a hook in the ceiling, sit in a window sill or rest on a piece of furniture. One tricky thing about houseplants is that photosynthesis mostly takes place during the day, which means they may release that carbon dioxide back into the air while you’re sleeping. Certain plants such as orchids, succulents, snake plants and bromeliads, however, work in the opposite way, cleaning up the air while you slumber. Related: 9 ways to introduce nature into your dull work space Air purifiers Even though plants help, commercially available air purifiers can really filter out allergens . They come at a cost though —  to both your pocket and the waste stream. Instead, look into eco-friendly options to purify your bedroom air like the low-power consuming Andrea Air Filter that uses plants to more effectively filter the air. Another option is the Chikuno Cube, a natural air purifier made from an ultra-fine powder of activated bamboo charcoal and clay minerals. Himalayan pink salt has natural purification capabilities. This material is available in a variety of lamps that also offer a unique touch to your decor. To minimize the pollutants in your room from petroleum-based candles , incorporate natural beeswax candles instead. Eco-friendly electronics If you must have electronics in your room, be sure to choose those that use less energy and produce less waste. Start by checking out the Energy Star label on any televisions you consider purchasing. An even more in-depth rating comes from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT. Products with this certification have met standards in eight key areas of environmental concern such as material selection, post-consumer waste, packaging and extension of lifecycle. If you are replacing an old TV, be sure to recycle it responsibly. Another product that might be in your bedroom is a computer. Newer models have become quite eco-friendly, too, but you have to look a little harder for them. Our favorite example is the options from iameco , a Dublin company that offers a 10-year design with replaceable and upgradable parts. The computers use less energy than others on the market and the casing is made from wood rather than plastic. Lighting Another source of energy consumption in your room is lighting. For a central light, a ceiling fan can work double-time as a light and fan, which can make the room more pleasant while offering some energy savings. For wall- or ceiling-mounted lights, look for products made with natural or recycled materials. Consider buying secondhand to intercept products from entering the waste stream. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Also pay attention to the bulb. Standard halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light emitting diode ( LED ) bulbs uses significantly less energy than an old-school incandescent. Linens We’ve covered a lot of the germane materials you might add to your room during a remodel or upgrade, but also consider your covers. Sheets, blankets and comforters can have a significant environmental impact. Choose organic cotton instead of standard cotton, which creates chemical runoff. There are several certifications you can look for in your linens, each with its own standards and criteria regarding sourcing and types of materials, treatment of employees and environmental practices. These include Certified B Corporation, Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX®, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Green Business Certification. Images via Shutterstock

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Go green in your bedroom with these sustainable decor picks

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