Category Archives: Toxic Chemicals

8 Things You Can Do to Avoid or Minimize Benzene Exposure

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Benzene WarningHave you ever considered whether benzene may be being present in your workplace, community, or home?

Benzene is a widely used chemical. It is a colorless, flammable, and volatile organic compound with a pleasant, sweet smell.  Benzene is produced by the combustion of crude oil and gasoline. It is found in nature (e.g., in volcanoes and forest fires) and in cigarette smoke. It is also used to manufacture many types of products such as:

  • plastics
  • resins
  • nylon and synthetic fibers
  • rubbers
  • lubricants
  • dyes
  • detergents
  • drugs
  • pesticides

Benzene is a known environmental pollutant and carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia. Benzene exposure can also lead to numerous non-cancerous health problems that affect normal functions of the vital systems in the body such as cardiovascular, nervous, immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems.

The question is, how do you protect yourself and your family from any health hazards resulting from excessive benzene exposure? Here are eight actions you can take:

  1. Get well-informed. Know where benzene is in your vicinity, including what home products contain benzene.
  2. Avoid tobacco smoke, including passive smoke. Benzene is one of the carcinogens released from tobacco smoke. It is estimated that about half of benzene exposure in the United States is from cigarette smoke.
  3. Reduce outdoor exposure in areas around gas stations and areas containing motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, where the air contains higher levels of benzene.
  4. Keep indoor environments ventilated. Benzene in indoor air comes from products like glues, paints, furniture wax, detergents, and certain drugs. According to some experts, indoor air generally contains higher levels of benzene than outdoor air.
  5. Read labels when you shop for groceries, esp. soft drinks.
  6. Know your work-related exposure and protect yourself properly. In addition, if your company uses benzene in manufacture, try to ensure that it takes preventive measures since people working in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to high levels of it.
  7. Be aware of other environmental sources of benzene. For instance, benzene can leak from underground storage tanks or from hazardous waste sites. Waste sites containing benzene can contaminate well water.
  8. In general, always do your best to avoid benzene and other toxic chemicals.

Overall, health damages associated with benzene exposure are serious, so don’t overlook this dangerous substance and take measures to prevent your exposure.


Strategies to Minimize Risk and Prevent Pollution

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

warning---dirty-water-5-1102261-mYou probably heard of a recent incident concerning a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia. It affected nearby nine counties, and a “do-not-use” order left about 300,000 people in the area that were unable to drink or bathe in their water for more than a week.

This is a public safety threat, as the extent of potential danger remained unclear. Sure, federal government must reinforce laws and rules to protect the public from toxic substances. But an important question is – what can we learn from it? Today I’m going to talk about the top 7 strategies you need to know in order to prevent and cope with this kind of emergency situation.

  1. Be vigilant. Watch out for your water. See if there is any discoloration, sense if there is any unexplained smell or odor, and unusual taste.
  2. Report to authorities timely. When in doubt, contact a responsible organization about the concern whether it’s an environmental agency or a local government office.
  3. Let your water run for 30 seconds to a minute or so to flush out any trace of contamination from the pipes, especially when the water has not been used for several hours. Additionally, use a water filter.
  4. Have some bottled water in storage. I’m not a fan of bottled water due to the questionable purity and quality as well as environmental consequences. However, when it comes to tap water contamination, you do need a reasonably safe source of water for your survival needs.
  5. Pregnant women should take extreme caution. Anytime tap water’s safety is in doubt, use bottled water.
  6. Read Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), a written document from the manufacturer of a hazardous substance, which provides product users and emergency personnel with information about potential hazards and procedures for handling the chemical. Keep in mind that not all carcinogens (i.e. cancer-causing substances) come with a clear document. Therefore, just because you cannot find the MSDS for a particular chemical, it doesn’t mean it is safe.
  7. Always take other desirable measures or precautions (e.g. source reducing) rather than disposal when dealing with chemicals. If needed, safe-deposit chemicals and drugs. Never flush them in the toilet; do not throw in the trash either. Instead, bring the drugs to medical facilities and contact local office(s) for chemical management.

The bottom line is:

Environmental and public health is the responsibility of each of us as citizens. There are many toxic chemicals around us nowadays; it is paramount to know their hazards, protect the air and water quality, and plan your emergency response before it happens.


Image credit: By hisks

Occupational and Environmental Chemicals linked to Lung Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Hazard smoking and passive smoking are well-known contributors to lung cancer. However, an overlooked risk factor is stemmed from cancer-causing substances in the workplace, communities or larger environment, and even at home. Vehicular smoke, industrial materials, toxic chemicals, fumes and exhaust are all kinds of environmental pollutants. The question is – at what level are you exposed to?

Everyday exposure in the workplace is a serious concern, because the exposure to harmful substances at high levels and over a long period of time can be a lethal threat to your health. Today, I’m helping you understand what common occupational substances may increase your risk of lung cancer, and how you can protect yourself and your family.

First, what to raise your awareness?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified several occupational materials/agents as lung carcinogens or possible carcinogens to human. Numerous research has established the link between an increased risk of lung cancer and excessive exposure to common occupational materials.

Occupational and/or environmental substances associated with lung cancer include:

  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Chromium
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nickel
  • Arsenic
  • Silica
  • Coal gasification
  • Tars
  • Soot
  • Diesel fumes
  • Radiation

For the general population, although the exposure levels to most of these agents are likely insufficient to produce serious health damage, it is wise to become informed and cautious.

Second, how to protect you from potential lung carcinogens?

Top Ten Tips:

  1. Keep informed, especially know what you are exposed to in the workplace and what you can do to protect yourself.
  2. Always wear protective clothing, items and equipment as occupational safety requires.
  3. Read the labels and follow the instructions. This is important whenever and wherever you handle chemical-containing products.
  4. Stick to the rules or regulations on dealing with hazard wastes.
  5. Make sure that your employer is aware of certain job-related potential danger to human health and have protective measurements in place.
  6. Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking potential toxins from the bottom of the shoes around your home.
  7. If necessary, separate your work clothing from those of the family when doing laundry.
  8. Take precautions about the chemicals you use in your home.
  9. Check radon levels in your house. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “high exposure” to radon as its level being 4 pCi/L and above.
  10. Avoid or limit unnecessary radiation exposure.

These practices are particularly imperative to people who are already at risk for lung cancer, including, but not limited to, those

  • with previous lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and chlamydia pneumonia
  • with a family history of lung cancer
  • with lowered immunity
  • Smokers and second-hand (or passive) smokers

Finally, early detection is a key. If you experience any symptoms such as frequent cough, breathing difficulty, wheezing, chest pain, or unexplained weight loss, consult your doctor.

If this is helpful, please share. Thanks.

Image credit: By


How Childhood Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Can Increase Cancer Risk

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Everything we breathe, see, ingest and touch is made up of chemicals. This is a combination of nature and science as well as a way of life. However, the exposure to toxic chemicals around us has become a growing health concern, and particularly disturbing is its negative impact when exposed during childhood.

Do you know that of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States, only a few hundred have been tested for safety? Today I will help you understand how toxic chemicals exposure can increase cancer risk.

The exposure of children to toxic chemicals may occur at different stages of their lives including:
-    embryonic (i.e. in utero or intrauterine) or prenatal exposure
-    postnatal (i.e. after newborn) exposure
-    teenage/puberty to later adult exposure

Obviously these are major developmental periods, and young kids are very susceptible to toxins. Some of DNA-damaging substances can have greater impacts on one’s early life stage, and others might have harmful effects that last for a lifetime. Another issue is once versus repeated exposure. For example, taking a X-ray examine is single exposure, but using chemically loaded daily products would be repeated exposure.

Nowadays, the exposure to toxic chemicals takes place virtually indoor and outdoor environment. The food we eat, the water we drink, the products we use (from cleaners, pesticides, plastic items to toys) all contain toxic chemicals and/or carcinogens. Then we breathe the air with environmental pollutants. Think about this: a mom’s uterine is the first environment for a baby. If the mom exposes herself to toxic chemicals during pregnancy when the risk of damaging consequences seems to be the highest, imagine what impact this has already had and will have on the baby? The uterine should be the safest place in the world for a developing baby.

To raise your awareness of children’s environment associated with cancer risk, keep in mind that many toxic chemicals and known or suspected carcinogens are NOT tested and/or regulated. It’s more urgent than ever to safeguard yourself and your children at home, at work and in a larger community. Research has suggested that fetal carcinogenic exposure might lead to predisposition to develop cancer during childhood or in later life.

3 Aspects of Hormonal Imbalance You Need to Know

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Hormonal imbalance is defined when chemical messengers regulating our body’s systems are no longer functioning properly. The imbalance can be an overproduction or an underproduction of specific hormones. Estrogen is the primary hormone in these changes.

Today, I’d like to help you understand the danger when hormone imbalance is left unaddressed or untreated.

What can cause hormonal imbalance? 

Hormone balance is closely connected to the food we eat, the exercise we get, the weight we carry, the stress we bear, and the toxins we absorb. Therefore, many factors can impact the overall hormonal balance, including:

1. Aging
Advanced age itself is a common cause of hormonal imbalance in both men and women.

2. Poor diet 
Excess carbohydrates (especially from refined foods and sugars) that are not needed for energy are stored as fat in the body. Increased body fat elevates estrogen levels and increased estrogen levels bring about estrogen dominance, which leads to increased risks for breast cancer. Hormonal balance can also be interrupted by the consumption of beef and dairy products that are pumped up with synthetic growth hormones.

3. Lack of exercise
Physical inactivity, living a sedentary lifestyle contributes to obesity and hormonal imbalance.

4. Obesity
Fatty tissue converts testosterone into estrogens using an enzyme called aromatase; thereby raising estrogen levels. As research shows, obese postmenopausal women tend to have higher estrogen levels than those lean women.

5. Stress
The misconception is that mid-life women and teens have hormonal imbalance along with their emotional or life crisis. The truth is that both men and women experience stress, at least to various degrees, due to the demand of modern society and challenging economy. Although most hormone production is taken over by the adrenal glands during one’s mid-life, constant or chronic stress can reduce progesterone levels or result in adrenal exhaustion, subsequently hormonal imbalance.

6. Environmental toxins
Xenoestrogens are a group of chemicals present in the environment and our everyday products. They mimic the effects of estrogen in your body. Excessive estrogen accumulated as a result of the combination of these foreign, man-made toxins with those naturally produced by the body, leading to compromised hormone functions.
Xenoestrogens are found in
-          household cleaners. Chlorine and its by-products are a major source, which points to why it’s critically important to drink filtered water and use chemical-free cleaning products!
-          household plastics products (e.g. plastic containers and bottles)
-          personal care products (e.g., nail polish and nail removers)
-          pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides
-          industrial pollutants.

7. Birth control pills
Synthetic hormones are used in birth control pills. Research showed that the earlier a girl begins to use contraceptives, the greater her risk of breast cancer is.

8. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Women (under 60 years old and within ten years of menopause) can benefit from HRT with much less risk. However, clinical studies also reveal that HRT poses higher risks for breast cancer, cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. Moreover, women who have used estrogen for seven years or longer are 14 times more likely to develop cancer.

What can hormonal imbalance lead to?

Hormonal imbalance causes a woman’s infertility. However, other serious medical consequences include:
-          approximately 6,000 endocrine disorders
-          osteoporosis
-          heart Disease
-          Because excess estrogens may act as initiators or promoters of cancer cell growth, hormonal imbalance can lead to cancer.

What can you do to prevent or control hormonal imbalance?

1.      Consult with your doctor on issues such as testing your hormone levels, hormone replacement therapy and using birth control pills, to ensure a proper treatment.
2.      Choose hormone-free meat and dairy products over farmed or estrogen-pumped varieties.
3.      Drink filtered water, which is more important than ever.
4.      Go for chemical-free cleaning. Avoid using household products containing chlorine or chlorine by-product such as dioxin.
5.      Wash  produce thoroughly; be aware of those possibly sprayed with pesticides.
6.      Limit the use of solvents like nail polish, nail polish-remover, and petrochemical-containing cosmetics (i.e. petro-based stuff is what you put in your car).
7.      Recycle hazardous wastes from electronic, plastic and paper products to protect environment.
8.      Reduce stress by positive outlook, relaxing techniques, and enough sleep with a consistent sleeping pattern.

The bottom line: your body has been attacked by harmful chemicals and stressors in everyday life. It is vital to maintain a delicate hormonal balance and strengthen the immune system, for both saving your life and long-term health.

Chronic Inflammation: A Common Root for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Do you know that the effect of inflammation can be two-fold?

Under physiological conditions, injuries or infections can trigger natural, healthy immune responses, and acute inflammation is an important part of the healing process.

However, chronic inflammation can act as a trigger for some deadly illnesses; contributing particularly to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Today I help you understand more about it.

How can inflammation lead to deadly diseases?

1.      Compelling evidence from research shows that chronic inflammation in fat tissue plays a key role in insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of insulin, leading to further increase in blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.

2.      Obesity is considered a chronic inflammatory disease. Furthermore, abdominal obesity is a risk factor for various diseases linked to inflammation. Fat cells around the belly are much more biologically active than those under the skin, and release some hormones and inflammatory chemicals. Obesity has been linked to several types of cancer.

3.      Fat and cholesterol surely build up plaque(s) on the arterial walls. Additionally, undetected, chronic infection causes inflammation and the formation of vulnerable plaque, which means that an unstable clot can easily fall off the arterial wall and travel to the heart or brain, resulting in myocardial infarction or stroke.

4.      Chronic inflammation caused by a variety of infectious agents can promote development of cancer by the release of immune modulating factors/substances, the production of DNA damaging free radicals, and the suppression of immune functions.

What can trigger inflammation?

1.      Poor diet: Baseline nutrition is critical, at least, to maintain necessary levels of anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body.
2.      High fat, high sugar and high salt foods: They’re tasty, but the silent fuel to set your body on fire.
3.      Chemicals and toxins: Environmental pollutants from tobacco to asbestos to dangerous chemicals in our home or work place, in the air we breathe and water we drink can be inflammatory sources.
4.      Stress: Emotional or physical stress can cause immune system over-drive or imbalance, followed by chronic inflammation.
5.      Physical inactivity: Exercises can produce beneficial changes in circulating level of insulin or insulin-related pathway, and in eliminating inflammatory mediators.

Collectively, a significant role of chronic inflammation in some killer diseases is clear, and the information here can empower you to control inflammation in various ways.

9 Invaluable Lessons from Tobacco Smoking

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Subjects on smoking are probably very boring. Some folks may say, “I don’t smoke, and I don’t care” or “Smoking is really bad, I know it…”. Yes, smoking can be harmful to the health of smokers and that of people around them; but its impact, is far beyond.

For the Summer Healthcare Education Series, let’s start with cigarette smoking – the first of 10 causative factors that cardiovascular disease and cancer have in common, see what we all can learn and do.

1 Cigarette_1379962Lesson #1: Cigarette smoking can kill you silently and aggressively but you don’t have to be a victim. 

Quoted by Unknown “One thousand Americans stop smoking every day – by dying.” Sadly, this is the reality. Cigarette smoking causes about 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States each year. It is the leading cause of many preventable diseases and death, from gum, lung and heart disease, diabetes to cancer.

Lesson # 2: You can protect your cardiovascular health with “No Smoking Policy”.

The toxic chemicals in tobacco smoking damage the structure and function of your heart and blood vessels via:
-          making the vessel walls thicker, stiffer and harder, and the lumen narrower, leading to less oxygen supply;
-          making your heart work harder by increasing your blood pressure and heart rate;
-          modifying your cholesterols, i.e. elevating LDL (“bad cholesterol”), lowering HDL (“good cholesterol”);
-          facilitating plaque buildup in your arteries through inflammation.

Evidently, smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. When combined with other risk factors (such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and overweight or obesity), smoking further raises the risk of heart disease.

Lesson #3: You lower cancer risk if you stop letting tobacco products poison your body.

Tobacco products damage almost every organ in the body, from mouth, eyes, lungs, digestive organs, reproductive organs to bladder and bones. A cigarette releases more than 7000 chemicals (including nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar, hydrogen cyanide, etc), and millions of free radicals, among them about 70 are carcinogens (i.e. cancer-causing substances). These harmful agents cause genetic mutation and DNA damage; consequently abnormal cells grow out of control and develop to cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States; a large majority of lung cancer deaths (~90% in men and ~80% in women) are due to smoking. Cigarette smoking also contributes to many other types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, and some leukemia.

Lesson #4 You learn that the list of smoking-rated diseases is getting long.

Tobacco smoking poses a serious threat to your overall health, just to mention some consequences here:
-          Oral health problems, e.g. periodontal disease
-          Chronic respiratory diseases, e.g. asthma, chronic bronchitis
-          Gastrointestinal ulcers
-          Adverse impact on orthopedic conditions, e.g. fracture healing, wound repair
-          Hearing reduction to loss, and age-related macular degeneration

Lesson #5: You learn to avoid secondhand smoking.

Secondhand or passive smokers inhale many of the same toxic chemicals and carcinogens as active smokers do, leading to approximately 49,000 deaths each year. Furthermore, average 5000 non-smokers die of lung cancer each year as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

Let’s work together to create Smoke-free indoor environment, which means asking co-workers, friends and family members who smoke not to do so in the room, house and car.

Lesson #6: Your learn to protect your children’s health and their long-term quality of life. 

Evidence is rapidly accumulating that tobacco exposure in the uterus is associated with the development of a variety of diseases in the offspring’s later life, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain childhood cancers and respiratory disorders. Nevertheless, early life insult from tobacco causes low birth weight and defects in newborn babies. Secondhand smoking also raises children’s risk of future cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension, hyperlipdemia and heart disease.

Lesson #7: You learn how smoking affects others and the world around you. 

Cigarette smoking itself is lack of consideration of others and consequences. What does smoking do? It contaminates the environment, pollutes the air, and damages people’s health, thereby affecting virtually everyone around and beyond. So, quitting smoking is not all about you. For love, compassion, and respect, it’s worth giving up a “self-pleasure”.

It’s hard to quit smoking, but with self-determination and help, quitting is possible and can be done.

Lesson #8: You learn how to age gracefully and prolong your lifespan.

Smoking speeds up aging and shortens your lifespan. Quitting can help you look younger and feel better by preventing face wrinkles (esp. around the mouth), averting stained teeth, and improving your skin. That’s from the outside. Aging inside is even worse, because it’s a risk factor for cancer and heart disease.

Quitting can reverse smoking’s negative impact, and it’s never too late to quit. According to the American Heart Association, smokers who quit between ages of 35-39 add 6-9 years to their lives, and smokers who quit between ages of 65-69 improve their life expectancy by 1-4 years.

Lesson #9: Smoking is costly for smokers and society. 

Smoking involves both human and economic costs. And sure it’s economically costly. 1 pack of cigarette costs from $4.84 to $12.50, depending on the states. Let’s do some simple math. Just 1 pack (average $8.67) a day, it costs $3164.55 a year, and $63,291 during 20 years; needless to say, there is much more tobacco consumption by most smokers. Why would some people spend a huge sum of money to hurt their own body, besides adding millions of dollars to the cost of health care?

In summary, tobacco use or smoking is unquestionably a major contributor to illness and death. It is everybody’s concern.

Therefore, for those who smoke, you can start here – Free Help to Quit Smoking from credible organizations. For non-smokers, please share this post, step up to help, and spread the word!

Image credit: by ime

Why Is Smoking Stressful?

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Smokers may feel relaxed or even peaceful with cigarettes, but their bodies tell different stories.

A cigarette releases more than 7000 chemicals and millions of free radicals, among them about 70 are carcinogens (i.e. cancer-causing substances). These harmful agents speed up aging, cause cell mutation and DNA damage, consequently abnormal cells grow out of control. As a result, smoking initiates oxidative stress or chemo-toxin attack to your body,

Smoking or use of tobacco has been pointed to one of the leading causes of mouth cancer, and contributed to estimated 90% of oral cancers in men and 60% of oral cancers in women. Moreover, smoking increases the risk of cancers of lung, bladder, cervix, kidney, colon, breast, prostate, esophagus, and pancreas.

Smoking and tobacco products make the lumen of blood vessels narrow, reduce blood flow, elevate blood pressure, and cause fat buildups and hardening of blood vessels, leading to heart attack and stroke…

Given the enormous health hazard produced by cigarette smoking, your body is basically stressed out!

The impact of passive smoking (secondhand smoking) on health is alarming. Passive smoking has been linked to an increased risk for cancer. Three epidemiological studies showed an increased risk of lung cancer for non-smoking wives having smoking husbands, according to Bos and Henderson on “Genotoxic risk of passive smoking” (1984).

Do you know how parental smoking may affect children? Research has shown that passive smoking in childhood might be associated with persistent or permanent endothelial dysfunction, i.e. impaired function of endothelial cells that are lining on the surface of blood vessels and in direct contact with blood. Endothelial dysfunction is an initial stage of atherosclerosis and other chronic cardiovascular disorders. Clearly, passive smoking can be an active threat for your cardiovascular system.

Smoking is a risk factor for a variety of cancers and cardiovascular diseases, but is a preventable cause. It is urgent to stop active smoking and limit passive smoking by all means. Learn more how to quit smoking

Image credit: by kodakgold

How to Clean Stovetop With Ease

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Do you want to see your stovetop spotless and shining?

Does stovetop cleaning sound like a daunting task especially with all the grease, stains, spills and dirt buildup?

Well, let me share with you a simple but effective way to clean it just using water, based on my own experience. Seen on the photo is our 21-year-old stovetop, and we’ve been cleaning it with e-cloth for the last several years (quite honestly, I wipe down our whole kitchen with it). The result is fantastic! Quite shiny isn’t it?

(Note: This image is untouched and taken by an ordinary digital camera).

How did I do?

First, get rid of tough grease, spills and drips with the damp, striped side of the Range e-cloth.

Next, I use the general purpose e-cloth to wipe it dry as a final touch. Sometimes, I just flip the Range e-cloth over to the smooth side for the same effect.

It’s a real time saver. I also use it to clean coils and reflector bowls of the electric stovetop. As a routine maintenance, it’s always better to wipe the surface clean with a damp e-cloth after each cooking and general purpose e-cloth can do most of the job.

Now stovetop cleaning became an easier-to-perform job. Best of all, it’s chemical-free, toxin-free and carcinogen-free cleaning – a cleaning solution with tremendous health benefit!

For other cleaning suggestions with e-cloth, check out this mom/homemaker’s video.

Do you use e-cloth? What do you think? Do you have any tip?

Toxic Chemical in Cereal Boxes – Surprising and Frightening on Lack of Regulation

A front page article titled “U.S. regulators lack information on health risks of many chemicals” on Aug. 2 in the Washington Post regarding recent recall of Kellogg’s cereals, is alarming and thought-provoking. The reality told us that toxic chemicals are not only in the household products (cleaners, pesticides, etc), but also sneaking into our food!

Recently, Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of cereal because customers complained of an odd smell and taste that made some folks sick. What is it? It turns out — a natural component of crude oil, 2-methylnaphthalene, which leaked from the packaging.

“Federal regulators, who are charged with ensuring the safety of food and consumer products, are in the dark about the suspected chemical, 2-methylnaphthalene. The Food and Drug Administration has no scientific data on its impact on human health. The Environmental Protection Agency also lacks basic health and safety data for 2-methylnaphthalene — even though the EPA has been seeking that information from the chemical industry for 16 years.”— cited from the article.

I’m frankly surprised and puzzled… To my knowledge, naphthalene is a possible human carcinogen (concluded by The International Agency for Research on Cancer and EPA), as I informed the public on our website. I’m not an expert on 2-methylnaphthalene, but simple chemistry suggests that it is a compound structurally related to naphthalene. What is naphthalene? As you might know, it’s a primary ingredient of mothballs.

Next, I did a quick search on PubMed — a resource from the U.S. National Library of Medicine for biomedical literature with approximately 20 million references. Results? There are 124 references on “2-methylnaphthalene” dated from 1960s. Here is a brief summary about 2-methylnaphthalene associated health risks:

1. Lung toxicit: Dietary exposure of mice to 2-methylnaphthalene for 81 weeks (i.e. most of their lives) caused pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, a disorder that rapidly leads to respiratory failure, because the alveolar spaces are filled with an abnormal lipid-rich material that hinders gas exchange. Data from exposure of lab animals (rats and mice) to 2-methylnaphthalene through various routes (including acute inhalation, skin, and abdominal injection) confirmed the lung toxicity. Other respiratory hazards include depressed breathing rate, lung and bronchi cell damage.

2. Tumor development: Exposure to 2-methylnaphthalene significantly increased lung tumors in male mice, although dose-dependent effects are not clear enough to address its carcinogenic potential.

3. Liver toxicity: 2-methylnaphthalene inhibited cell-to-cell communication in cultured rat liver cells. Bear in mind that the chaos of intracellular communication is evident in cancer.

In addition, there are studies on the microorganisms involved and their potentials concerning how 2-methylnaphthalene is metabolized and degraded….

Further studies will, without doubt, help establish health implications in humans. I guess the question is not whether there is related information. The real question is whether the food company wanted to know about it or not.

Chemicals found in food supplies have become an ongoing problem tracing back to BPA, now 2-methylnaphthalene, what will be next? What’s even more frightening is that you probably never find out. As a scientist emphasized at the end of the article, “In this case, it had an odor and it had a taste, so it was detected. But there are hundreds of other potential impurities that we can’t smell and taste, chemicals that we know very little about and the government knows little about.”

We anticipate that the government sets vigorous food safety laws, takes effective and authoritative measures to test products and/or chemicals before they hit the market, in order to protect consumers from any harmful health consequence resulting from industrial self-interest and self-regulation.

For our citizens, this is just one more reason why you need to get informed and become educated. Depending on the manufacturers or government might be too late.

What’s your thought on food safety?

To find out which cereal package is involved in the recall, read:
U.S. regulators lack information on health risks of many chemicals

To learn more about Naphthalene, click here.

Photo credit: by muresan113