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Why Mennonite Urine Is Four Times Lower in BPAs Than the Rest of Ours

Drive less, eat better, live simple and live longer: what we can learn from the Mennonite way of life.

We all carry in our bodies the legacy of our dependence on plastic products: 93 percent of U.S. urine samples contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound used in the production of plastics and resins. Most of this exposure comes from food packaging. You may also recall the shift away from the use of BPA by Nalgene, the water bottle maker.

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Despite Environmentalist Requests, the FDA Won't Ban BPA

In a response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the agency said it has no reason to believe the chemical is harmful to humans.


The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that it won’t ban bisphenol A, the endocrine-disrupting chemical found in plastic and food products—not yet, at least.

In its decision, the agency emphasized that it is still reviewing the science on BPA, but that government scientists have no reason to believe it poses a health risk. But legions of environmental, consumer, and public health groups already are convinced that the chemical, which is found in more than 90 percent of Americans, poses a threat to humans.

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Keep the Carcinogens Away from Baby: Curated E-Commerce to Parents' Rescue

Mom 2.0: Mighty Nest vets everyday products to help parents keep kids safe

For many new parents, the daunting reality of caring for a child hits like an anvil to the chest. After you’ve done everything you can to keep them safe—buying everything from car seats to protective mittens —there’s an overwhelming swirl of terror when you learn that baby’s shampoo contains known carcinogens. Those cute new bottles are laced with BPA, while the after-bath lotion is chock-full of phthalates—both components linked to a variety of unpleasant health and developmental side affects. You’re trying your best, and learn that your best could be poisoning your kid.

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The other night, 60 Minutes ran a spot about phthalates, a category of chemical plasticizers that has been linked to gender-bendy birth defects in baby boys. Phthalates, as the episode made clear, are everywhere. They're in the plastic in your car, your shower curtain, your moisturizer, your hairspray, your air freshener, your makeup, your cologne, and your kids' toys. So what to do?

First, let's make one thing clear: The effects of phthalate exposure have been fairly conclusively established, and that research is acknowledged by countless public-health experts and environmental-health organizations—but not by the FDA. (Naturally, the chemical and cosmetic trade organizations that sell and use these ingredients also claim phthalates are safe, but never mind them.)

Some phthalates are already banned in toys. There's a growing feeling that they should be removed from personal-care products as well, because their ubiquity in beauty products is suspected to be the reason why so many baby boys are born with hypospadias (which is a birth defect where the opening of the urethra is in the wrong place) and undescended testes (which is exactly what it sounds like), and why so many girls have breasts before their 10th birthday.

Clearly, we'd all do well to avoid them to whatever extent we can. But the 60 Minutes spot felt a little hopeless, as if to say "They're everywhere, so live with it." And a recent New Yorker feature about BPA and phthalates, while thorough, left a lot of people scratching their heads.

There are a lot of instances where we can't control our phthalate exposure, it's true—but there are tons where we can. Here are some easy places to start:\n\n

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