Thursday, 13 December 2018

The STINK: Why Dangerous Chemical Fragrances Are Used to Make Clothes Smell

Dangerous Chemicals

 Yet another valuable revelation about the chemicals used in the clothing industry!

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Story at-a-glance

  • In his first documentary film production, Jon Whelan presents overwhelming evidence showing dangerous chemicals are added to clothing and other products by design, to reduce cost and increase profits
  • The scent wafting from your clothing is the result of fragrances added to reduce the obnoxious scent of synthetic clothing; since fragrance is not regulated, manufacturers are free to add any toxic chemicals to achieve their goals
  • Although Europe practices precautionary principles, the U.S. assumes chemicals are safe until proven otherwise. Unfortunately, it may take many years before science can prove a toxin triggers negative health effects, unnecessarily exposing you to danger
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets also add fragrance to your clothing, much of which may be vented to your neighborhood through your dryer, contributing to declining air quality
In his first documentary film production, Jon Whelan, single dad after his wife died from breast cancer, presents overwhelming evidence that dangerous chemicals are added to products by design. As he discusses in this interview about his documentary “Stink,” available on Netflix and YouTube, fragrances and scents are a dangerous, yet purposeful addition to products you use daily.
Your sense of smell is one of the most primal of your five senses. It is a key to survival, is often the first warning of safety or danger and is linked to memory. In fact, a powerful attraction to fragrances is manipulated by advertisers and marketers in order to sell clothing, personal care products and laundry products.
You can recognize up to 10,000 different smells and, according to Dr. Stuart Firestein of Columbia University, this system is very closely connected to the limbic system, said to contain your most basic drives.1
A study2 in 2015 published in Chemosensory Perception investigated how odor-evoked memories influence consumers’ perception of a product. Researchers found fragrances evoking stronger personal emotional memories were preferred by the study participants.3
It is not surprising scent is powerfully connected to emotion and memory and drives buying decisions. Unfortunately, companies add toxic fragrances to mask the odor of noxious chemicals and as scent branding to acquire new customers and keep customers.

Smelly Pajamas Led to Documentary Film

The documentary film, “Stink,” was triggered when Whelan purchased a pair of pajamas from the children’s clothing company Justice4 for his daughter. After opening the package, he found a weird smell. Whelan called the company to be sure the clothing was safe, but was stonewalled by company representatives.
Returning to the store, he found all of the packaged pajamas had the same odor. At this point he decided to tape the conversations he had with Justice and other companies, and began delving into the addition of chemicals to clothing and personal care products.
In a telling conversation with Procter and Gamble,5 manufacturer of a long list of cleaning and personal care items, including Crest toothpaste, Dawn dish soap, Pampers diapers, Tide laundry detergent and Pantene shampoo, the representative claimed they didn’t add a carcinogenic chemical to their products, it was just “there.”6 Here’s a transcript of the conversation Whelan had:
Whelan: "I read an article online yesterday and it said something that if it has a chemical in it called 1-4-dioxane it might cause cancer. I just wanted to be sure that it's not true.”
Representative: “It's not something we add to the product, OK, it's something that's in the product.”
Whelan: "Can you tell me who adds it then?"
Representative: "Pardon me?"
Whelan: "You said you didn't add it. I was wondering who does add it?"
Representative: "It's in all of the ingredients. You know what I mean?"
Whelan: "No I don't."
Representative: "OK, OK, how can I say this. . . you know if you do 1,200 loads of wash a day, it's still at a safe level."
As with exposure to many different toxins, one exposure at a low level may not trigger an immediate health condition, but what about repetitive or chronic exposure? Imagine smoking one cigarette and claiming the product had no health effects since you didn’t immediately get sick. The effect from toxins is cumulative, and can add up quickly when you’re exposed to chemicals in your food, furniture, air and clothing, all at once, and on a daily basis.
Whelan believes if the legislature won’t ban a chemical regulators know causes cancer, then it may be nearly impossible to fight for transparency and health protection against a highly-motivated and richly-funded industry destined to forfeit profits if they are forced to stop using cheaper, damaging and dangerous chemicals.
For instance, scientists and regulators know the dangers to consumers from asbestos. This material, used for insulation for decades, is known to trigger the development of mesothelioma. However, despite this knowledge, asbestos is not banned in the U.S. and its use may actually increase, as I discussed in a previous article, “Asbestos and Benzene in Crayons and Markers.”

Dangerous Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals

Whelan uses the example of endocrine disrupting chemicals in his documentary, stating exposure to these has an inverted dose response curve. In other words, the danger is higher with lower level exposure over long periods of time. Your exposure occurs with use of personal care products, food packaging materials and clothing.
Vague arguments and claims have been used to dispute reports showing the use of toxic chemicals may be poisoning adults and children, causing damage beginning even before birth. Following an op-ed piece in The New York Times by Nicholas Kristof, the American Council on Science and Health claimed Kristoff would have flunked eighth grade science, saying:7
“Look at all these lethal things: toothpaste, soap, shower curtains. It's amazing we all aren't dead yet. Mr. Kristof's ‘research’ — if you can even call it that — relied heavily on well-known anti-science activists, such as the Environmental Working Group. Mr. Kristof has demonstrated time and again that he is entirely ignorant of the basic principles of chemistry and toxicology.”
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a group of over 65,000 well-educated and science-based pediatricians in the U.S., agree with Kristoff and are asking parents to limit their children's exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastic. They warn these chemicals, such as phthalates, nitrates and bisphenol, may damage children's health for years to come.
Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) has even suggested a ban on endocrine disrupting chemicals may be needed to protect the health of future generations.8 Their research is one of the most comprehensive studies on different disrupting chemicals to date.
Dr. Leonardo Trasande,9 an expert in children's environmental health, believes children are more susceptible due to their dose exposure. And, as noted by Dr. Claire McCarthy, pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital,10 “Because the exposure is small and gradual we don't even realize it's happening.”

Fighting to Keep Chemicals in Your Products

Whelan believes the solution should be mandatory transparency so companies would make better decisions about what they use in their products and consumers could make informed decisions about what they buy.
Instead, companies are operating under the honor system set up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)11 while fighting to keep cheap chemicals in their products so they can be made inexpensively, thereby protecting profits.
Unfortunately, the public pays for these cheaper products on the back end by spending thousands treating diseases triggered by overexposure to chemicals, which can build up in your system when you’re exposed to multiple products, such as personal care items, new furniture and carpeting and even clothing.
Whelan points out the world knows formaldehyde causes cancer, yet manufacturers are not removing it from their products. In fact, the U.S. was caught using products with heavy levels of formaldehyde in environmentally damaged areas.
For instance, trailer homes deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina were found to emit high levels of formaldehyde gas. In testing, 519 trailer and mobile homes were nearly 40 times customary exposure levels, triggering breathing difficulties, nose bleeds and persistent headaches.12

California Prop 65 Mandates Labeling Federal Government Doesn’t Regulate

California has taken a more proactive approach to the health of their citizens. In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group,13 researchers found 287 chemicals in the cord blood of newborns. These babies were essentially born pre-polluted before ever consuming a single manufactured product.
In 1986 California voters approved an initiative best known as Proposition 65, requiring the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. Since it began, it includes nearly 800 chemicals, and manufacturers are required to notify consumers when these chemicals are included in their product.14
According to the American Cancer Society,15 the risk of developing cancer was 40 percent in men and nearly 37 percent in women as of 2014. Their global cancer facts and figures suggest this number will grow to 50 percent by 2030.16

Europe Practices Precautionary Principles; the US Does Not

In the documentary, Whelan reveals the American Chemistry Council spent $121,000 per congressman to assist election campaigns. The influence pays dividends since it requires legislative action to alter the current status where manufacturers release chemicals under an honor system requiring proof chemicals are safe for consumer use prior to distribution.
Currently, the U.S. does not use precautionary principles, but rather acts under the assumption chemicals are “innocent until proven guilty.” The opposite is true in Europe, where if a chemical is suspected dangerous, it’s phased out.
However, proving guilt is nearly impossible in the short term as these chemicals often accumulate over years in your body before effects are noticeable. This works to the advantage of the industry. For example, one of the world’s most popular chemical weed killers, Roundup, made by Monsanto (now Bayer), has been on the market since 1974.17
After 45 years on the market, Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $289 million when a jury found Dwayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma was at least partly triggered by glyphosate in Roundup, to which he was exposed as a school groundskeeper.18 The judge upheld the guilty verdict but later reduced the damages to $78 million.19
After the verdict, the presiding judge, Suzanne Ramos Bolanos, commented the company20 "acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct." In the past, Monsanto had sued California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment for adding glyphosate to their Proposition 65 list of cancer causing chemicals, and lost.
In the process of filming the documentary, Whelan did not receive a response to a question he posed to manufacturers: "What are the consumer advantages of buying products with hidden chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects?" He believes a safe compromise is transparency, allowing consumers to decide what exposure they will endure.

Secondhand Fragrances

It isn't only the chemicals in the products you purchase to which you are exposed. Secondhand fragrance contamination is a public health concern as 30.5 percent of the general population find smells irritating and another 19 percent experience adverse health effects from air fresheners.21
Thirty years ago the issue was secondhand smoke, but today scent from perfume, air fresheners, scented laundry products and numerous other products on which fragrances are used are triggering health issues. Reactions to these fragrances created in the laboratory may include:22,23
Weakness Hay fever symptoms Dizziness
Confusion Headaches Muscle aches/spasms
Heart Palpitations Mucosal symptoms in eyes and airways24 Gastrointestinal problems
Vomiting, Nausea Asthma attacks Neurological problems
Seizures Contact dermatitis25 Breathing and respiratory difficulties
The chemical cocktails in fragrances are often toxic as they are derived from petroleum and coal tar, and not made from the essential oils of flowers or sweet smelling plants. As soon as you smell an air freshener, scented candle or laundry detergent, you have already absorbed the chemicals into your body as they enter through your lungs.
Even when you no longer smell the fragrance, you're still absorbing the chemicals through your clothing, bedding and towels. Some synthetic fabrics have unpleasant odors, prompting manufacturers to cover them with masking fragrances.26 Secondhand fragrances are difficult to avoid as most public places use some type of air freshener, and make available scented hand soaps.
Although the number could potentially be falling, 85 percent of women wear perfume27 and over 60 percent of men use cologne and aftershave.28 A small number of schools, colleges, businesses and hospitals have enacted fragrance-free policies.

Are You Releasing Volatile Organic Compounds Into the Neighborhood?

The scent and chemicals manufacturers add to your clothing aren’t the only ways toxic chemicals are released. Since fragrances are essentially an unregulated market and manufacturers are working on the "honor system," it's not possible to find information on product labels about exposure to dangerous chemicals. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are one such fragrance-laden product.29
One University of Washington scientist, Anne Steinemann, Ph.D.,30 professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs, has done a large amount of research into what chemicals are released by laundry products,31 air fresheners, cleaners, lotions and other fragranced consumer products.32

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Secret To Success For Women Entrepreneurs

Women Entrepreneurs

 It is always good to learn from those who have succeeded in any sphere of life!


From Toronto To Silicon Valley - The Secret To Success For Women Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, 11 December 2018



Click the link above for the full article!

Against Self-Righteousness: Anne Lamott on Forgiveness, Self-Forgiveness, and the Relationship Between Brokenness and Joy

“We are hardwired with curiosity inside us, because life knew that this would keep us going even in bad sailing… Life feeds anyone who is open to taste its food, wonder, and glee — its immediacy.”

Monday, 10 December 2018

How To Speak Up For Yourself

Speaking up is hard to do, even when you know you should. Learn how to assert yourself, navigate tricky social situations and expand your personal power with sage guidance from social psychologist Adam Galinsky. This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxNewYork, an independent event. TED's editors chose to feature it for you.

 About the speaker Adam Galinsky · Social psychologist Adam Galinsky teaches people all over the world how to inspire others, speak up effectively, lead teams and negotiate successfully.

Speaking up for yourself can be daunting, I hope Adam Galinsky's tips help.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

"Having It All," Under Scrutiny

Thought to Ponder

 This will mean different things to different people!

Does ‘Having It All’ Mean Doing It All?

Plenty of new research underscores the reality that women are still shouldering, and expected to shoulder, much of the work associated with the home.

CreditFranziska Barczyk
“Marriage still ain’t equal, y’all. It ain’t equal. I tell women that whole ‘you can have it all’ — mmm, nope. Not at the same time. That’s a lie. It’s not always enough to lean in, because that [expletive] doesn’t work.”
— Michelle Obama

When Mrs. Obama spoke these words this week at a Brooklyn stop of her “Becoming” book tour, the crowd (and in turn, the internet) went wild. But it wasn’t just her challenge to Sheryl Sandberg’s “lean in” that struck me — nor was it her rare, unfiltered language, though I liked that too — it was her comment about “having it all.” 

As a girl, the prospect of balancing a thriving career, a happy marriage and a couple of well-adjusted kids — all while maintaining my friendships and hobbies — was sold to me as an ultra-glam aspiration that left me daydreaming of a well-oiled life with me at the controls. 

Though I’ve checked enough of these boxes, I realize with every passing year of my 30s that if I have children, something — well, a lot of things — will have to give. (As Shonda Rhimes once put it: “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.”)

Friday, 7 December 2018

Developing Tools to Combat ‘Fake News’

Developing Tools to Combat ‘Fake News’:

Identifying Fake News and eliminating it, is finally being addressed!

 In order to combat this issue, tools and practices need to be developed to help consumers and journalists filter the information they are constantly being fed.

Article ID: 703776
Released: 12-Nov-2018 9:50 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)

Newswise — With news coverage being a constant cycle and information being amplified across social media channels, it can be difficult to discern between sound news and ‘fake news.’ As a result people’s trust in scientific information has begun to break down. This is especially harmful to society when the mass dissemination of misinformation, especially as it relates to issues such as climate change, is problematic as it may contribute to the delay of much needed policy action to protect the public. In order to combat this issue, tools and practices need to be developed to help consumers and journalists filter the information they are constantly being fed.

Fake news has become a growing problem nationwide and its spread has been aided and exacerbated by social media, particularly Facebook. Lauren Lutzke, University of Michigan, and her team of researchers tested a simple intervention aimed to help people recognize fake climate news on Facebook.

In the study, “Structured introspection: Can a simple intervention help people identify fake news about climate change on Facebook?” online participants were presented with a post from a Facebook newsfeed containing false information about climate change and were placed in one of three treatment (T) groups. In T1, participants were asked to think carefully about the information they were about to receive and to evaluate its accuracy. In T2, people were asked to rate the importance of five attributes of online news, including credibility of the source and plausibility of the information, that may be indicative of whether the information is reliable or not, and T3 mirrored T2 except that participants were asked to propose between two and five diagnostic attributes of their own.
The researchers hypothesized that structured introspection, the T2 method, would help people identify fake news. This study will help build an understanding of what helps people reject fake news and could help combat its spread.

Previous research has suggested that in the wake of a terror attack, public fear and anger can each uniquely contribute to risk perception and risk-avoidance behaviors. However, this research has not sought to understand how physical and temporal proximity to the attack impact an individual’s expression of fear and anger. Richard John and Matt Baucum, University of Southern California, conducted a study to better understand how a terror event can incite fear and anger at various locations, and how those feelings change with time.

These results show that individuals who are physically distant from the attack remained angry and fearful for a longer duration after the attack compared to those in and around Orlando whose feared dissipated more quickly. John and Baucum will discuss the implications for understanding the emotional landscape that results from highly publicized terror attacks.
News coverage of scientific and medical studies that provide convincing evidence about technological and health risks generally increase public concern, but research has shown that subsequent news coverage that criticizes these same studies or publicizes their retraction can reduce those initial concerns. Dilshani Sarathchandra, University of Idaho, and Aaron McCright, Michigan State University, conducted some follow-up research to determine if these retractions have broader impacts, such as reducing people’s trust in the institutions and individuals (i.e., science and scientists) who are supposed to minimize environmental and health risks.

The study, “The effects of media coverage of scientific retractions on trust in science,” examined how trust in scientists was shaped by exposure to news coverage of the retraction of a stem cell study. Preliminary findings show that being exposed to the news coverage does reduce trust and negative effects on trust are even larger for retractions due to “intentional misconduct.”

The results suggest that journalists and publishers should be more aware of these effects when reporting on retractions and should clarify the reason for retraction (honest mistakes vs. intentional misconduct). Clarifying the reasoning can influence how journalists cover the stories, and how the public perceives the news. Making this distinction can also help destigmatize retractions due to honest mistakes which could increase trust in the scientific community.

These studies will be presented during the From AI to Fake News: Media & Emerging Risks session on Tuesday, Dec. 4 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. at the 2018 Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) Annual Meeting at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana.

**Dilshani Sarathchandra, University of Idaho, Richard John, University of Southern California, and Lauren Lutzke, University of Michigan, will be available for media interviews at the 2018 SRA Annual Meeting. Please contact Melanie Preve at for all interview requests.

About SRA
The Society for Risk Analysis is a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, scholarly, international society that provides an open forum for all those interested in risk analysis. SRA was established in 1980 and has published Risk Analysis: An International Journal, the leading scholarly journal in the field, continuously since 1981. For more information, visit