Prescription drugs or arsenic in your drinking water? – Nutrition Action

David Schardt

Traces of 51 drugs have been detected in the wastewater that Burlington, Vermont,  residents flush or pour down their drainsand that ends up in Lake Champlain. Researchers at the University of Vermont and the United States Geological Survey found that levels of caffeine and nicotine in the water drop as college students leave for summer break, followed by increases in the relative amounts of drugs used by older people, such as diabetes and heart medications.

Burlington is not unique. “Pharmaceuticals are found in about eighty percent of the surface waters tested in the United States,” says University of Vermont scientist Christine Vatovec.

Which drugs are they?

Antibiotics, antidepressants, and other prescription medications, as well as caffeine.

How do they get into drinking water? Drug residues that people excrete are flushed down toilets. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently tested wastewater effluent from 50 of the biggest water utilities. (That’s treated sewage, which is released into rivers and lakes that may be used as sources of drinking water.) Traces of at least one prescription drug turned up in every sample.

How can these drug residues harm you? They probably don’t, says the EPA’s Mitch Kostich. The amounts are so minuscule “that you would have to drink two quarts of wastewater every day for decades, usually for an entire lifetime, before you would be exposed to even one therapeutic dose,” he says.

How do you know if they’re in your water? You don’t. Water utilities aren’t required to include prescription drugs in the “Consumer Confidence Report” most big water utilities are required to make available to their customers.


What about arsenic, a toxic element that’s found naturally in rocks, soil, water, and air?

How does it get into drinking water? Naturally occurring arsenic in rocks and soil can leach into water sources. So can arsenic that’s used in pesticides and in manufacturing.

How do you know if it’s in your water? Arsenic levels are listed in the Consumer Confidence Report. Your water shouldn’t have more than 10 ppb (parts per billion). That’s a compromise between what’s safe and what’s practical.

What’s safe? There is no safe level of arsenic, says the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet according to a 2009 survey, the arsenic in 7 percent of the private wells in the United States exceeded 10 ppb.

How can it harm you? Arsenic can cause bladder cancer. Its presence in wells in New England may explain why that region has a 20 percent higher incidence of bladder cancer than the national average.

Arsenic may also affect your brain, say several studies that are troubling but can’t prove cause and effect.

Elementary school children in Maine who lived most of their lives in homes where the well water contained 5 ppb or more of arsenic scored about 5 points lower on IQ tests than children whose well water averaged less.

And in two rural Texas counties where the arsenic in groundwater averaged about 6 ppb, the more arsenic in their tap water, the lower adults scored on tests of language, executive function, and memory.

Check your Consumer Confidence Report.

“If you get your water from a public utility, find out what’s in your town’s water,” says Jeffrey Griffiths of the Tufts University School of Medicine. Griffiths chaired the drinking water committee for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.

To see your report, which water utilities are required to issue every year, go to or call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

The report will flag any substance that exceeds its maximum contaminant level (MCL). That’s the highest concentration allowed in drinking water. It will also tell you what the utility is doing to fix any problems.

Sources: Environ. Pollut. 184: 354, 2014; J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 108: djw099, 2016; Environ. Health 13: 23, 2014; Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 8: 861, 2011.

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Tell the White House to require real testing of GMOs!

FOODS_GMO-NO2Source: Tell the White House to require real testing of GMOs!


Blue Bell recalls chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

By James Limbach A Washington, D.C., reporter for more than 30 years, Jim Limbach covers the federal agencies for ConsumerAffairs. Previously, he was a reporter and news anchor for Associated Press Broadcast Services, where he covered business and consumer news as well as space shots and other major spot news events. Read Full Bio→ Email James Limbach Phone: 866-773-0221

By James Limbach

A Washington, D.C., reporter for more than 30 years, Jim Limbach covers the federal agencies for ConsumerAffairs. Previously, he was a reporter and news anchor for Associated Press Broadcast Services, where he covered business and consumer news as well as space shots and other major spot news events.  Read Full Bio→

PhotoBlue Bell Ice Cream is recalling select products produced in its Sylacauga, Alabama plant because they were made with a chocolate chip cookie dough ingredient, supplied by a third party supplier Aspen Hills, Inc., that may potentially contain Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall comes more than a year after Blue Bell products were linked to 10 Listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas.

Consumers should not eat the recalled products and are encouraged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.


Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The products can be identified by the code date found on the bottom of the carton.  The products produced with the chocolate chip cookie dough pieces were distributed in the following ten states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

No illnesses have been reported to date, the company said.

For more information, consumers with questions may call 979-836-7977, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST.

Washing Our Hands of Toxins

Thursday, 08 September 2016 00:00 By Jill Richardson, OtherWords | Op-Ed

(health_handwshg: Jeff)

Some people love to hate government regulations. Many believe they’re just bureaucratic barriers that waste our time. But the Food and Drug Administration just passed a new regulation that’ll actually protect us, and may save you a few bucks and an unnecessary purchase at the store.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who buys antibacterial soaps, you’ve been, at a minimum, duped. But more importantly, you’ve been exposed to harmful chemicals.

Antibacterial soaps sound good. After all, no one wants to imagine their hands teeming with bacteria.

We are utterly covered in microorganisms. That idea grosses us out, and some of that bacteria can make us sick. Kill them all, we think.

But in reality, we couldn’t survive without beneficial bacteria, some of which help protect our immune system. And antibacterial soaps are no better at preventing disease than regular soap and water.

If you’ve ever purchased soap based on its deadliness to bacteria, you’re a victim of false advertising. But it’s not as benign as that.

You’re also a victim of the harmful chemicals used to make those soaps — triclosan and triclocarban.

In addition to the possibility of helping develop germs that are resistant to antibiotics, evidence suggests that these two chemicals may also disrupt your hormone cycles. And it’s not just your skin. Triclosan can also be found in some toothpastes.

These chemicals continue making trouble even after they’re washed down the drain. They’re released into the environment via effluent from wastewater treatment plants or sewage sludge.

While triclocarban stays intact in the environment for several years, triclosan breaks down into cancer causing dioxins.

In light of their potential harm and lack of benefits, the FDA has finally banned them in consumer products. Although, hospitals and restaurants can still use them.

According to the regulation, corporations have a year to clean up their acts. That means that you might still find these soon-to-be banned chemicals in the store. So for the next year you should still read soap labels to avoid triclocarban and triclosan.

And when you do, keep in mind that despite evidence of their harmful effects, many companies chose not to do the right thing on their own and continued to sell products that contain both chemicals.

That’s why a government regulation acting in the public interest was necessary for us to wash our hands of these toxins.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Tyson Recalls 130,000 In Chicken Nuggets | BlackDoctor

foods_recall_tysonOh no, not the chicken nuggets! Tyson Foods has recalled more than 130,000 pounds of precooked chicken nuggets due to a concern that the product may be “contaminated with hard plastic,”…

Source: Tyson Recalls 130,000 In Chicken Nuggets | BlackDoctor

FYI Recall

By Chase Erwin
Sunday, September 4, 2016 at 01:27 PM EDT

Check your pantries for certain items in the “Little Bites” snack cake line from Entenmann’s – they could be part of a wide-reaching voluntary recall.

The company announced the recall this week after learning that some items could have been contaminated with small pieces of plastic.

At least one injury has been reported in connection with the recalled items.

Company officials say the presence of plastic was due to a manufacturing failure at an Illinois bakery.

The recall affects chocolate chip muffins, variety pack muffins, and fudge brownies with a “sell by” date between Sept. 24 and Oct. 8.

All affected products are being removed from store shelves nationwide.

Consumers who purchased the recalled items are asked to return them to place of purchase for a full refund.

Those with questions pertaining to the recall should phone 1-800-984-0989.


Uses: Apple Cider Vinegar

FYI: Foods v. Pesticides

– AARP –

Strawberries Top ‘Dirty Dozen’ List for Pesticides


And the winner — or maybe we should say, loser — this year is … strawberries.For the first time in five years, the popular berry has ousted apples from the number one spot on the Environmental Working Group’s annual report of the produce with the most pesticide residue — aka “The Dirty Dozen.” The nonprofit group also included a “Clean 15” list of produce lowest in pesticides.

After strawberries, apples are number two, followed by nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Leafy greens, including kale and collard greens, and hot peppers also rated a mention for having worrisome insecticide residue levels.

Conventionally grown strawberries had an average of 5.75 different pesticides per sample, compared to 1.74 pesticides per sample of all the other produce the USDA tested, the environmental advocacy group reported. However, only about 7 percent of the strawberries sampled in 2014 had levels of pesticide residues considered illegal.

“Fruits and vegetables are important for your health, but for those on the Dirty Dozen, we recommend buying the organic versions if you want to avoid pesticides on your food,” Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst, said in a statement.

Avocados topped the Clean 15 list, with only 1 percent of samples showing any detectable pesticides.  Also on the list: sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe and cauliflower.

None of the samples of these fruits tested positive for more than four types of pesticides, and 89 percent of pineapples, 81 percent of papayas, 78 percent of mangoes, 73 percent of kiwi and 62 percent of cantaloupes had no detectable residues.

The EWG’s annual report is based on pesticide residue testing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to EWG, nearly three-fourths of the nearly 7,000 produce samples tested by the USDA in 2014 — the most recent year for which data is available — contained pesticide residues, although the USDA said this year that “overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose a safety concern.” The agency noted that residues exceeding EPA tolerances were detected in only 0.36 percent of the samples tested.

“The resulting data in this year’s report gives consumers confidence that the products they buy for their families are safe and wholesome,” said Ruihong Guo, deputy administrator of the USDA’s science and technology program.

The EWG’s Lunder called the EPA’s residue levels allowed on produce “too lax to protect Americans’ health. They should be updated to reflect new research that shows even very small doses of toxic chemicals can be harmful, particularly for young children.”




Biohazard: Mercury!

Study reveals frighteningly vast amounts of mercury in U.S. land; high concentrations falling from the sky during rainfall

(NaturalNews) After steadily dropping for many years, mercury levels in some parts of the United States are starting to rise again, according to a study published in Science of the Total Environment.

The long-term national trend is still downward, but levels of mercury in rainwater increased across the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest between 2007 and 2013.

“It’s a surprising result,” said co-author David Gay of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. “Everybody expected [mercury levels] to continue going down. But our analysis shows that may not necessarily be the case.”

Mercury is a chemical element that functions as a potent neurotoxin. The majority of mercury in the environment is released by human industrial activities, primarily through the burning of coal. Atmospheric mercury, such as from coal combustion, is washed into the water and soil by rainfall.

Mercury not coming from the U.S.

The researchers analyzed data collected by a network of sites in the United States and Canada that measure the mercury content of precipitation. Data collection began in 1997, and initially showed only a downward trend in mercury levels. Beginning in 2007 or 2008, however, some sites started to show increases rather than decreases.

That’s because the vast majority of sites in 1997 were in the eastern United States. Monitoring locations in other states were added about a decade later.

“This [increase] hadn’t been observed before, and the sites with positive trends were primarily concentrated in the Intermountain West and in the central part of the continent, in the Rocky Mountain, Plains, and Midwest regions,” said lead researcher Peter Weiss-Penzias of the University of California – Santa Cruz. “On the Eastern Seaboard, the trend was still largely negative even for the shorter time periods.”

U.S. mercury emissions have been steadily decreasing for several decades, so the sudden uptick caught researchers by surprise.

The same data collection sites also measured the sulfate concentrations of rainfall. Sulfate is typically emitted by the same sources as atmospheric mercury, and is therefore an indicator of local sources of mercury pollution. The researchers found that sulfate levels continued to drop even in areas that saw increases in mercury. This shows that the mercury contamination in the central United States is coming from elsewhere, the researchers said.

Long-term consequences unknown

The researchers point to booming coal combustion in Asia as the likely culprit. The mercury was likely taken up into the upper atmosphere, and began to fall when it hit turbulence above the Rocky Mountains.

Harvard researcher Hannah Horowitz, who has discovered similar data in her own work, agrees that the mercury is likely coming from outside of the U.S. She notes that because of its high elevation, the Rocky Mountain region tends to gather and trap more atmospheric pollution from distant regions.

Newly increasing levels of mercury – particularly increases over which the United States has little direct control – are deeply troubling.

“As a general rule, we are very concerned about mercury because it can be present at very dilute levels in the environment, parts per trillion, but in the food chain—in a food that we eat and that other animals eat—it can reach levels that are toxic,” Weiss-Penzias said.

Because mercury bio-accumulates, it also tends to increase in concentration as it moves up the food chain. That’s why certain predatory fish tend to be so high in mercury levels that pregnant women are advised against eating them.

Researchers do not know if the increase in mercury levels will continue, or what its ultimate effects will be. But they warn that if the current trend of a 2 percent increase per year continues, the end result will be a massive new accumulation of environmental mercury.

“And once an ecosystem is contaminated with mercury, it can take decades for it to become uncontaminated,” Weiss-Penzias warns.

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