No product should ever go to market unless we are certain that it is safe. That seems like a reasonable request, don’t you think? Apparently it is not. We are living in a country where safety is too often overlooked by dollar signs.
This is not ok. Yet it is evident by the overwhelming presence of products made with DEET, phthalates, parabens, GMO’s, pesticides, and toxins found on store shelves everywhere that such products hit the market at rapid speed in this country.
And then there is the frightening newest area of concern – nanoparticles.
What the heck is a nanoparticle, and why does it matter if they are in your foods or personal care products?
Nanoparticles are tiny little engineered (also known as “mand made”) particles. So small, in fact, that they are about 1000x thinner than a human hair, and often several hundred times smaller than our blood cells. What’s concerning about manipulating materials at this scale is that these tiny substances change in ways that scientists may not expect or predict.
Most nanoparticles are also much more toxic than their larger, natural counterparts. Not only are they more chemically bio-reactive than other particles, they can mutate. They can disrupt DNA. And they can be transferred back into the environment. It is believed that even low dose exposure could be very harmful.
For at least a decade studies have shown that there are health risks associated with nanomaterials, and it was found that nanoparticles are getting into thousands of products that we use or are exposed to every single day. So the folks at Friends of the Earth wanted to find out more about what products contain nanoparticles, and they began their search with products for the most vulnerable group of all.
Who are the most vulnerable to the potential harm from nanoparticles?
Newborn and even unborn babies may suffer as a result of nanoparticle exposure. The researchers from Friends of the Earth started by looking at popular baby formulas. Lo and behold, nanoparticles are rampant in baby formulas. In fact, the researchers found ample amounts of razor thin pieces of nanoparticles called Nanohydroxyappetite, which acts in a very similar way to asbestos. The European Union has already banned it in many products, but right here in the U.S.A. it is commonly fed to babies.
Makes you cringe, doesn’t it?
But wait, there’s more. Titanium Dioxide, an anti-caking agent that has been said to damage DNA, disrupt cells, interfere with immune cells, and smuggle bad bacteria into our bodies was also found in baby formula. Nano titanium dioxide (TiO2): Nano titanium dioxide is highly mobile in the body and has been detected in both humans and animals in the blood, liver and spleen. Studies show that titanium dioxide can damage DNA, disrupt the function of cells, interfere with immune cells and provoke inflammation.
All six baby formulas they tested were found to contain nanoparticles, including: Gerber, Enfamil, Similac, and Well Beginnings.
A product that affects millions of infants shouldn’t ever go to market if we are not 100% certain that it is safe. Baby formula is simply not an appropriate use for nanotechnology. That’s why we need new safety testing before nanoparticles are used in any products, let alone baby products. Don’t our babies deserve better?
A warning for parents about nanoparticles in baby formula:
Infants may be at an even greater risk of suffering health harms from exposure to nanomaterials than adults. Children’s immune, central nervous, reproductive and digestive systems are still developing, and at certain early stages of development, exposure to toxicants can lead to irreversible damage which can increase risk of disease later in life.
Unfortunately, we just don’t know whether eating nanofoods will cause serious harm to our health in the long term. However, scientists have already found that feeding mice nanomaterials that are now being used by the food industry can cause liver and kidney damage. Test tube studies have found that nanomaterials now used by the food industry are toxic to human cells at even very low doses.
We need food regulators to keep unsafe and untested nanomaterials out of our foods, and out of all of our everyday products for that matter.
There are no laws in place to regulate the use of nanoingredients in products, even those that consumers ingest and use on a daily basis. And you certainly won’t find the term “nanoparticles” listed in the ingredients.
Nanotechnology is only in its infancy, and at present the technology is moving fast without oversight or significant, unbiased studies on its health impacts. European regulators have already enacted a range of precautionary policies for nanotechnologies. The European Parliament is even working towards a moratorium on novel foods containing nanomaterials. France, Belgium, and Denmark have implemented a mandatory registry for nanomaterials, and the EU has implemented a nanofood-labeling regime. Yet here in the good old U.S. of A. there has been nothing of the sort.
Nanoparticles are not just found in baby formulas either. Children’s products that contain engineered nanoparticles include skincare products and sunscreens, supplements, food containers, pacifiers, teethers, blankets, toys and stuffed animals, baby bottles, toothbrushes, baby carriages, bibs, baby clothing and more. And that’s just the products that are marketed to kids.
We need to ensure transparency in the supply chain, and safe products on the market. This will protect not only the population of people who use or consumer these products, but those who work with them as well.
Here’s what you can do right now:
* Learn more about nanotechnology, take action and support our efforts to create a safe, just, resilient and sustainable food system at: http://www.foe.org/projects/food-and-technology/nanotechnology.
* Spread awareness. The more people who become attune to the potential harm that can come from nanoparticle exposure, the more demand there will be for change. Share this post with your friend and family, or tweet it out on social media.
[Tweet “What are potentially dangerous #nanoparticles doing in #babyformula? www.foe.org/nanobabyformula shows #nanoingredients linked to health hazards.”]
[Tweet “New @foe_us report shows #nanoingredients linked to health hazards. www.foe.org/nanobabyformula #NanoBabyFormula”]
* Call companies of the products you use to find out whether there are nanoparticles present in your food, personal care, and household products.
* Contact baby formula manufacturers and ask them to remove nanomaterials from their products
* Join Friends of the Earth to demand a moratorium on the use of nanotechnology in the food sector and urge policy makers to regulate and label food, food packaging and agricultural products containing manufactured nanomaterials. Sign the petition, and share it with friends and family.
* Purchase organic products in every consumer category, as there will be less likelihood to be exposed to nanoparticles.
* Along the same lines, those who are pregnant or have infants and toddlers should consume organic products and breastfeed when and if possible.
* Join us for a Facebook Party sponsored by Friends of the Earth on the Mamavation Facebook Fan Page on Thursday, May 19th at 6pm PDT/9pm EDT. Look here for more information.
Let’s give those companies an opportunity to recall products that are not proven to be safe, and remove these ingredients in a timely manner. (Though we certainly don’t want to export unused formula to be sent to developing nations either.)
Our babies deserve to grow up in a world where their parents are not feeding them potentially harmful food. There is an urgent need for further unbiased research on nanotechnology. As consumers, and as parents, we deserve the right to say no to products made with nanoparticles.
For access to the full downloadable report and press release, go to: http://foe.org/nano-report-baby-formula.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post to help spread the word about this important new research from Friends of the Earth.