Testing Finds Many Toxic Chemicals in Cats and Dogs
Your pet may be regularly exposed to toxic chemicals--at levels higher than those found in humans, according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit research organization. Cats and dogs tested positive for 48 of 70 industrial chemicals--43 of which were found to be at higher levels than typically found in people. For example, dogs had levels 2.4 times as high of perfluorochemicals, which are used to make stain- and greaseproof coatings, and cats had 23 times as many flame retardants, compared with the average levels of these chemicals found in humans. "This study shows that our pets are susceptible to the absorption of potentially harmful chemicals from our environment, just as we are," said John Billeter, the veterinarian who conducted blood and urine tests on the pets. "Perhaps even more troubling is that these chemicals have been found in higher levels in pets than in humans, implying potential harmful consequences for their health and well-being."
The Environmental Working Group offers tips for reducing your pet's exposure to harmful chemicals.
Harmful Selenium Supplements Being Probed
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more than 180 cases of illness in people who took a dietary supplement containing potentially harmful levels of selenium, according to the Associated Press. Testing of certain formulations of "Total Body Formula" and "Total Body Mega Formula" supplements found hazardous levels of selenium, more than 200 times the amount per serving stated on the label of the products, the CDC reports. The manufacturer, Total Body Essential Nutrition, voluntarily recalled the products in March. But the increasing number of illness reports may mean that people are still taking the supplement; the Food and Drug Administration had received only 43 reports of people falling ill by April 9. Adverse reactions to the supplement--which generally occur within 10 days of taking the product--include significant hair loss, diarrhea, joint pain, muscle cramps, deformed fingernails, and fatigue.
The CDC has a list of lot numbers for the recalled products. Consumers who have any of these supplements at home should throw them away, the agency advises.
In Florida, Bare-bones Insurance for All?
Uninsured Florida residents may eventually have access to cheap, bare-bones health insurance, if a bill passed by the state's House of Representatives on Saturday comes to fruition. The plan would permit the state to negotiate with insurers to offer policies that provide coverage for hospitalization, medications, emergency care, and other treatments--but not for such services as disease screenings or organ transplants, according to an Associated Press article. Some health insurance companies would also be permitted to offer policies that provide less coverage than the state's plan. Democrats are largely critical of the plan, while Republicans are supportive and were successful in stopping Democrats' effort to broaden what the state plan would cover. Another, less comprehensive plan has already been passed by the state Senate.
An Overlooked Source of a Controversial Plastic Chemical
Last week, there was a surge of negative news about bisphenol A, a controversial chemical that is used to make polycarbonate plastic. But little has been said about the chemical's link to canned foods, Adam Voiland reports. According to the Environmental Working Group, cans are the primary source of human exposure to the chemical. (Most metal food cans have resin linings that prevent spoilage but are rich in bisphenol A, also called BPA.) Numerous studies support a link between canned foods and the chemical. "The bulk of BPA exposure definitely comes from food," says Jovana Ruzicic, a spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group, noting that media attention has, nevertheless, focused on baby bottles.
U.S. News offers more on the latest BPA news, tips on how to avoid the chemical, and a perspective on why BPA-free plastics may be worth worrying about, too.
--January W. Payne