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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Giving People The Vapours

What is causing us increasing concern is the amount of incidental contamination we experience from just ordinary activity outside the home.

We have little doubt that a great deal arises not simply from deodorants but the extent of fabric conditioner/softener that is now in the environment and on almost everything you contact and touch.

This includes foods and packaging. It is almost impossible to shift and accounts for our need for extreme rigour in dealing with clothes etc. The effect of contact is often instant and the power of some it literally takes your breath away.

A person who suffers from severe reactions sent this link:

The two pages set out very briefly what is involved. What is frightening is how is now everywhere and touching everything.

What is very strange is all the TV advertisements for the products showing delight in the way it is carried through the air and dancing happy children.

Just what are the long term implications for those children?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Think Before You Sniff

The link below arrived in the Inbox from someone in Health and Safety.

All those out there coughing and spluttering when you have a chemical hit might wonder why things are becoming so much worse.

It is simply because so much of this new form of production is now coming on stream and the relevant consumer products are neither tested nor subject to any safeguards.

It would be worth tapping Fibrosis into search and looking at the Wikipedia entry and then some of the links to Pulmonary Fibrosis.

They are not happy reading.

You could download the document to study and keep on file.

Two things I noticed in other links were effects in some cases such as oxygen deprivation and a particular cardiac effect.

Think about it.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Food For Thought

This story about Gorillas has its interest. They are close to us genetically and in the wild have a foraging way of life that we humans have abandoned.

They also eat their greens. So the diet change introduced by this zoo has some intriguing implications.

One aspect to this is that by going back to the more natural diet it is possible that there has been a major reduction in the additives and other contents of foods in the modern world.

Also, by staying clear of some of these foods there may well be far fewer of the contaminants encountered in modern retail outlets.

Friday, 18 February 2011

MSG Sends Bad Messages

A few days ago the issue of MSG cropped up in a mail raising the question of how bad is it, if at all. This was my response below


“If you are getting reactions only at RATS Scale 1 or 2 it will be very difficult to isolate MSG from the welter of other stuff as either a cause or contributory substance. This can apply at 3 or 4.

Also the reactions might vary from person to person. It takes quite a rigorous analysis of intakes to work out that MSG is giving you a problem.

Another factor is that whilst in the past flavourings or flavour enhancers might be relatively natural, e.g. salt, sugar, vanilla etc or concentrates of real things, eg. orange or lemon juice in recent years there has been a range of synthetics developed which are used alongside MSG.

Also MSG has become stronger and applied to many more products.

In short more people are getting much more of it and stronger and in combination with other synthetics.

Go to the doctor and you may get stuff for IBS, headaches or depression or what without any reference to possible food or allied chemical reactions.

Another thing is that in the last decade or so, more researchers have a look at its potential for causing or contributing to medical problems.”


The RATS Scale reference can be found here:

For the case that MSG is a toxin and not an allergen and argues the dangers see this link:

Having had a “hit” in the last few days that I suspect may have been MSG the effects are similar to those of other potential toxins encountered.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Gnawing At The Gnashers

The debate on Triclosan use generally has been going on for some time now. There is an interesting history to this said to go back to some strange uses in the past. Here is a recent article. You might well find it in the toothpaste suggested by your dentist.


Allergies and Asthma linked to antibacterial products
Monday, January 31, 2011 by: Anita Khalek

Learn more:

Antibacterial products containing Triclosan are found to put your health at risk and compromise the immune system's ability to defend itself. People who are most exposed to Triclosan are more prone to increased allergies, asthma and overall weakened immune defenses, cites a new study from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

Triclosan is in the same class of toxins as Bisphenol A (BPA). They are called endocrine-disrupting compounds or EDCs because of their ability to affect the functions of hormones or even worse mirror them.

Triclosan is a synthetic antimicrobial agent present in hundreds of products ranging from toothpaste, deodorants, lotions, soaps, and even plastics and fabrics. This study indicates that participants ages 18 or younger with higher levels of Triclosan had increased chances of allergies and asthma.

Associate professor and principal investigator Allison Aiello stated that living in very clean and hygienic environments is counter-beneficial to our health as it prevents the exposure to micro-organisms that trigger the immune system into action; consequently, the latter is not given a chance to kick in

In recent years, several studies have shown strong evidence linking Triclosan to a variety of immunotoxic and neurotoxic reactions ranging from skin irritations and increased allergic reactions to a marked hypothermic effect on the body; they lower the body's temperature and affect the central nervous system, typical of hypothyroidism in which the most common condition is autoimmune thyroiditis (or Hashimoto's thyroiditis), caused by a weakened immune system.

One particular study, also from the University of Michigan, found antibacterial soap to be no more effective than plain soap at preventing disease and reducing the number of bacteria on the hands.

More importantly, the study also found evidence that Triclosan increases drug resistance to antibiotics among different species of bacteria, thus promoting the emergence of antibiotic-resistant generations of bacteria.

Triclosan was introduced into the health care industry in 1972 and over the last 38 years, its use has increased dramatically. Triclosan, a lipophilic agent, poses health concerns with its ability to accumulate in fatty tissues in high quantities.

It has also been found to contain dioxin, a family of carcinogenic compounds ranging in toxicity. Dioxins are linked to causing severe health problems such as miscarriages, birth defects, altering sex hormones and even cancer.

It is important to note that when exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light, Triclosan converts to dioxin. Additionally, Triclosan, on its own, poses a threat to the ecosystem and is deadly to various types of algae, not to mention that because of its lipophilic properties, it accumulates in fatty tissues of fish and other organisms.A number of European governments (Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Germany) have issued warnings advising the public to discontinue antibacterial product uses: calling their use "superfluous and risky". In the US, both the EPA and the FDA have made little effort in advising the public about the risks of Triclosan.

On its website, the FDA cites lack of evidence regarding the health and environmental hazards of the chemical. The EPA has rescheduled the re-registration of Triclosan; this moves it up ten years ahead of its previous schedule to 2013.

Both the EPA and FDA have also announced that Triclosan is undergoing review and results of their study are expected in the spring of 2011

Learn more:


It’s amazing what you can get for the price, isn’t it?

Friday, 11 February 2011

Perfumes, Cowboys and Codswallop

Over the period of the bad weather we found ourselves watching programmes on Sky that carry advertisements. Often we prefer to “box” them to watch another time when they can be avoided. Amongst other things is the saving of time that can be substantial. At least we turn off the sound with all the heavy thumping.

During this period of all the advertising that was on a remarkable amount was for perfumes and fragrances and also in some of the media there were a large number of stories about this or that famous name selling their own mix.

The marketing largely concentrated on lifestyle and sex, sometimes there were suggestions of fresh air and the wonders of nature or health but not much. The use of these perfumes and fragrances was alleged to be about performance. There was no mention that this was unlikely and in any case the products might have entirely the opposite effect.

But put “Perfume Marketing” into MS Bing or Google or other searches and you are given a large number of hits to rummage around. Essentially, the selling of these perfumed products is not about content or reality. It is all about marketing and image.

What is clear is that this market and the manufacturing of all the products is now roughly the “Wild West” of the consumer chemical industries. You can more or less do what you like, say what like, claim what you like and there is no hindrance in effect.

On one site there were recommendations about how anyone could set out to sell their own and how to do it. If you had web site selling banned drugs you would soon be shut down. Also that would happen if you were selling known poisons.

But shovelling out extreme concentrates of chemicals, the effects of which you do not know or care, under the heading of perfume is open to anyone anywhere. I know that the majority of cyanides are supposed to be “inert” but what happens when you put them into a mix of petro-chemicals and alcohols, use fine particle technology and then vaporise them under pressure?

Moreover, there are no questions asked. This is a sector where the mantra of “commercial confidentiality” applies even more than in the case of financial swindlers. You really can do what you like and take money from people on the basis of selling the image only.

If anyone who is badly affected tries to ask what is in them they can be brushed aside. In the UK if you were to suggest that some of the stronger deodorants and fragrances were damaging you could face legal action for defamation. Companies routinely deny information even where anaphylaxis is involved.

Yet the evidence is that many people are affected and some very badly. We do not know what the numbers are because doctors are reluctant to take into account environment or lifestyle issues beyond the officially sanctioned smoking and drink issues.

Moreover, many surgeries are now equipped with fragrance devices. Quite what these are doing to their critical targets for blood pressure and the rest is a real question and neither they nor the health authorities have any clue about the answers.

It took almost a century before the dangers of smoking were admitted. It took major health disasters before Clean Air Acts were passed. At present diseases that cause serious damage to far fewer have money thrown at them to find treatments.

Sooner or later the health problems will have to be admitted. It is probable that this will only happen when they have gone critical and a chaotic situation has developed. But then it will be too late for too many people.

How many families do I pass are reeking of fragrances with their children coughing and sucking at inhalers?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

There Is A Problem

Popping Perfume Allergy into Google Scholar turned up 6420 hits dating back to the 1970’s. Asking only for the last three years gave 864. There was quite a lot of information and from many countries, although it is very hard to find anything from the UK. As we know science in the UK to get grants and keep your lab’s going has to show added value, that is to be commercial. Allergy and the contraction of disease or debility do not do this.

One article quoted was from “Contact Dermatitis, Vol. 63 Issue 2, August 2010, by six authors titled “Fragrance Contact Allergy, A Four Year Retrospective Study. Below is the abstract:


allergic contact dermatitis;
patch test

Background: Fragrance chemicals are the second most frequent cause of contact allergy. The mandatory labelling of 26 fragrance chemicals when present in cosmetics has facilitated management of patients allergic to fragrances.

Objectives: The study was aimed to define the characteristics of the population allergic to perfumes detected in our hospital district, to determine the usefulness of markers of fragrance allergy in the baseline GEIDAC series, and to describe the contribution made by the fragrance series to the data obtained with the baseline series.

Material and methods: We performed a 4-year retrospective study of patients tested with the Spanish baseline series and/or fragrance series. There are four fragrance markers in the baseline series: fragrance mix I (FM I), Myroxylon pereirae, fragrance mix II (FM II), and hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde.

Results: A total of 1253 patients were patch tested, 117 (9.3%) of whom were positive to a fragrance marker. FM I and M. pereirae detected 92.5% of the cases of fragrance contact allergy. FM II and hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde detected 6 additional cases and provided further information in 8, enabling improved management.

A fragrance series was tested in a selected group of 86 patients and positive results were obtained in 45.3%. Geraniol was the allergen most frequently found in the group of patients tested with the fragrance series.

Conclusions: Classic markers detect the majority of cases of fragrance contact allergy. We recommend incorporating FM II in the Spanish baseline series, as in the European baseline series, and using a specific fragrance series to study patients allergic to a fragrance marker.

Then there was the big one. A 457 page book titled “Occupational And Environmental Lung Disease. Work, Home, Outdoor And Other Exposures”.

There are many contributors and the Editors are Susan Tarlo, Paul Cullinan and Benoit Nemery. It is published by Wiley-Blackwell, August 2010 and the ISBN is 978-0470-51594-5, with a British Library index number. The bad news is that the cost is £99 from your local bookshop and not much less from Amazon

Quite how anyone can deny that there is a problem or why, given the increased power of many products, the UK medical profession can continue to ignore the extent and impact on so many people is a mystery.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Time That Ever Rolling Stream

Just as a change from tracking hurricane and cyclones and looking at the volcano and earthquake web sites I venture into the Science things.

Google Scholar is a mine of information, although it needs patience to look through and see what may be what.

This one I found interesting:


The frequency of fragrance allergy in patch-tested patients increases with their age.

D.A. Buckley,
R.J.G. Rycroft,
I.R. White,
J.P. Mcfadden

Article first published online: 24 NOV 2003



fragrance allergy;

patch testing;

perfume allergy



The most likely age of sensitization to fragrance chemicals is unknown.


To investigate the frequency of allergy to the 8% fragrance mix (FM) in each decade of life in patients undergoing patch testing for the investigation of skin symptoms.


Patients (n=23,846; 14,104 female and 9742 male) underwent patch testing to a standard series between 1 January 1984 and 31 December 1998. All data were recorded on a computerized database.


We found that 8·4% of females and 6·4% of males were allergic to the FM. The frequency of fragrance allergy was low in the first two decades of life (2·5–3·4%).

It gradually increased in females after the age of 20 years to peak in the 60s at 14·4% of those tested, with a decline to 11·6% in the 80s.

The prevalence in males rose more slowly and peaked at 13·7% in the 70s, declining to 10·8% in the 80s.

The youngest patients sensitized were aged 2 years.


These findings support the hypothesis that allergy to fragrance results from a combination of repeated environmental exposure and age-related susceptibility factors.


You have been warned.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Food For The Brain And Body

We try to source as much of our food as possible from local suppliers, farm shops and outlets with minimum levels of contamination. Unluckily we are forced into large supermarkets for some food and related products.

What is frightening at present is the high levels of fragrance contamination on foods on open display and on packaging. Arriving home it is a matter of urgency to deal with this and to repack in sterile forms all the packaged goods.

If we did not the contamination would certainly affect our food intake a great deal. But there are other contaminants these days as the article below (longish at 1000+ words) indicates. It is from Welt Online in Germany.


Melamine contamination highlights human food chain risks

The discovery of melamine in eggs as well as in baby formula, milk products, biscuits, chocolates and other foodstuffs containing milk derivatives confirms what experts have long suspected; that the chemical is deeply embedded in the human food chain.

And it's not just melamine; heavy metals such as lead and mercury which can cause brain damage, as well as cadmium, a compound used in batteries, pesticides and antibiotics are all present in the human food chain.

Hong Kong mother Shirley Lo stocked her refrigerator with soymilk and switched to buying imported chocolates for her son after melamine was found in baby formula and milk products in China.

But when eggs from China tested positive for melamine in Hong Kong late last month, Lo threw up her hands in despair.

"It's horrifying," she said. "It's clear it has gone into basic foods and into our food chain. My son has been trying to comfort me, saying he must be very strong because his body must be full of this stuff and yet he is not sick".

China is a major transgressor as carcinogenic chemicals are regularly used as food colouring agents or as preservatives, experts say.

"In China, food safety is not a concern and all sorts of things like Sudan red, Malachite green are added in food, so food contamination is widespread," said Peter Yu, a professor of biology and chemical technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

"We also have environmental contamination from pesticides, formaldehyde (to kill bacteria)," Yu said, citing the use of Malachite green, a carcinogenic agent, that in 2006 was found in fish from China. It had been added to eradicate fungal disease in the fish.

Leading food manufacturers regularly test their ingredients and final products for many of these contaminants, but experts say it's impossible to keep up with all the foreign compounds that land up on the dinner table, especially in China where regulation is lax and difficult to enforce.

In the wake of the melamine scandal, China is reviewing a tougher draft food safety law following criticism from the United Nations for its sluggish response to the tainted milk scandal.


The melamine saga has surprised even some food producers, who say they find it hard to keep up with strange additives that are added to food. Melamine, for example, was added to baby formula to cheat protein level tests.

"How did we come up with cadmium or heavy metals? Because we know they would kill people. That's why we test for them. But we didn't know melamine would even be in food," said a manager who works for a major foreign food producer with factories in China.

"We never had melamine in our specifications (contaminants to look out for). If it is melamine today, it will be something else tomorrow. We can't possibly test for every toxin in the world," said the manager, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to reporters.

Tens of thousands of children in China have fallen ill with kidney problems in recent months, and at least four have died, after being fed infant formula that was later found to have been mixed with melamine.

Subsequent tests found melamine in a variety of Chinese-made products from milk and chocolate bars, to yoghurt and other products exported around the world, leading to items being pulled from shop shelves and massive recalls.

But with the discovery of melamine in eggs, apparently due to contaminated feed given to chickens, the chemical appears to be far more entrenched in the human food chain than first thought.

Melamine and its derivatives are widely used in animal feed and pesticides in China but no one knows how harmful they can be to people after prolonged exposure.

Hong Kong imposed a cap on melamine in September to no more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram, while food meant for children under 3 and lactating mothers should be no more than 1 mg per kg.

Experts say the limits are arbitrary and called for more tests and science when imposing safety limits.

"The limits are derived from animal studies but we don't know what our exposure is. What if we are accumulating more than is safe?," said Chan King-ming, biochemistry professor at the Chinese University.

"There should be surveys to find out what foods have melamine and their concentrations. Then we know how serious it is."

A World Health Organisation official said this week some of the affected children in China, most of whom are believed to be under the age of 3, have "crystals" in their kidneys. Some might need surgery to avoid potentially deadly kidney failure.


In Hong Kong, parents have thronged public clinics to get their children tested for melamine by laboratories that analyse urine samples with sophisticated spectrometers.

"Melamine is not soluble. But if it is very concentrated as in the case of these Chinese kids (whose diet was mostly formula), it forms into crystals," said Allen Chan, associate professor of chemical pathology at the Chinese University.

Permanent liver damage can be caused when crystals suddenly form into large numbers of tubules in the kidneys of children that have consumed melamine, causing chronic kidney failure and requiring dialysis and even kidney transplants later on in life.

The WHO plans to make a detailed assessment of the risks of long-term consumption of melamine. It has asked China to provide information for a meeting of experts in December.

Anthony Hazzard, WHO's regional adviser for food safety, said experts needed information on the levels of melamine detected in the affected children, details on length of exposure and treatment and the age groups of the worst affected children.

"We understand that they will participate and provide data so we don't at this moment fear any cover up ... so we expect full cooperation," Hazzard told Reuters in an interview.

Melamine contamination is the latest in a long list of food scandals involving China. Experts say it is a wake up call for governments to strictly enforce food safety laws and for food producers and manufacturers to tighten quality control.

"The ethics lie in the businesses. They must make sure their supply chains are supplying ingredients that are safe. The role of government is to enforce and ensure companies are implementing good manufacturing and hygienic practices," Hazzard said.


What is said in the article willl apply just as much to the added contaminants that occur in the retail outlet, especially supermarkets.