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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) created LEED in March 2000. It is a third-party certification system developed to recognize sustainable building practices. According to USGBC, “LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.”
LEED measures performance in categories that consider qualities such as site selection, water efficiency, energy use, waste reduction, indoor air quality, and community.
More information: https://new.usgbc.org/leed
Term & Symbol: Mercury, Hg
Purpose/ Definition: Mercury is a heavy metal, which occurs as a liquid.
Light Bulbs: “CFLs produce light when the mercury molecules are excited by electricity running between two electrodes in the base of the bulb. The mercury emits ultraviolet light, which in turn excites the tube’s phosphor coating, leading it to emit visible light.” Source: Popular Mechanics
Vaccines and Cosmetics: Mercury serves as a preservative in some flu shots and some some eye cosmetics (up to 65 ppm in cosmetics), including mascara, eye liner, and eye drops. (Mercury in cosmetics is banned in Minnesota).
Coal: Mercury naturally occurs in coal and is released into the atmosphere when coal is burned.
Mercury in the atmosphere falls back to the Earth’s surface in raindrops and snow. “Bacteria then convert mercury into the potent–and persistent–brain poison, methylmercury. Concentrating as it moves through the food chain, methylmercury can magnify its powers many times in aquatic systems, where food chains are long.”
Source: Steingraber, Sandra. 2011. Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis. USA: Da Capo Press.
The number one route of human exposure to mercury is eating fish–especially large predatory fish–and seafood. Mercury is stored in muscle, not fat. So it cannot be trimmed off the fish. The Michigan Department of Community Health recommends not eating Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish, King Mackerel. MDCH provides advisories for amounts deemed safe for consumption for other store-bought and freshly caught fish: www.michigan.gov/eatsafefish
Health Effects: Neurotoxin
Children: “Methylmercury exposure in the womb…can adversely affect a baby’s growing brain and nervous system. Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to methylmercury in the womb…the developing nervous system of the fetus may be more vulnerable to methylmercury than is the adult nervous system.”
Adults: “…symptoms of methylmercury poisoning may include; impairment of the peripheral vision; disturbances in sensations (“pins and needles” feelings, usually in the hands, feet, and around the mouth); lack of coordination of movements; impairment of speech, hearing, walking; and muscle weakness.”
Source: U.S. EPA
LMG Article of Interest
CFLs 101, Spring 2008
Liquid Silver, August 2003
Minimum risk pesticides are those that are exempt from the U.S. EPA registration process because they pose little or no risk to humans and the environment.
To qualify for an exemption as a minimum risk pesticide:
EPA notes these exemptions are meant “in part to reduce the cost and regulatory burden on businesses as well as the public for pesticides posing little or no risk, and to focus EPA’s limited resources on pesticide which pose greater risk to humans and the environment.”
EPA also notes they do not review exempted products. “Sale or distribution of a pesticide product meeting all the criteria…without a federal registration is not a violation…However, if a product does not meet all of the exemption criteria, the product is not exempt…and its sale or distribution if not registered would be a violation…”
Definition: An agent (chemical or physical) that causes genetic mutation.
EPA (IRIS Glossary):A substance that can induce an alteration in the structure of DNA.
From Toxipedia.org, Genetic Toxicology and the Biology of Cancer
Chemicals that induce mutations in the DNA are called mutagens, and when these changes lead to cancer the chemical is called a carcinogen. Not all mutagens are carcinogens, and not all carcinogens are mutagens…
Genetic toxicology developed ways to test chemical and physical agents for their mutagenic properties, and in the 1970s, Bruce Ames and others developed a cellular-based test for genetic mutations. This test became known as the Ames assay. Sophisticated variations of these tests are now required by many government regulatory agencies to test chemicals for mutagenicity before they are of approved for use.
1. Carr, Steven M., “Mutagenesis by Nitrous Acid.” Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Biology. Genetics, Evolution, and Molecular Systemics Laboratory. http://www.mun.ca/biology/scarr/Nitrous_Acid_Mutagenesis.html (accessed 10/3/11)
2. Steingraber, Sandra. Living Downstram: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment—2nd ed. Da Capo Press. 2010, p. 202.
Meat and Poultry
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) labeling terms for meat and poultry:
“A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled natural. The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as – no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.)
“FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives [on food]. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”
Cosmetics and Body Care Products
Under FDA regulation there are no legal standards or specific definitions for the term “natural” on cosmetic labels.
NO ANTIBIOTICS (in food)
“No Antibiotics” is a term seen on some food packaging.
According to the United States Department Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service:
“The term ‘no antibiotics added’ may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics.”
NO HORMONES (in food)
“No Hormones” is a term seen on some food packaging.
According to the United States Department Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service:
Pork or Poultry: “Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim ‘no hormones added’ cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says ‘Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.’”
Beef: “The term ‘no hormones administered’ may be approved for use on the label of beef products if sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no hormones have been used in raising the animals.”
The synthetic hormones commonly given to cows are referred to as rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) or rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin).
Selective herbicides, such as mecoprop (MCPP) are designed to target one type of plant, such as broadleaf plants, without affecting grasses.
Non-selective herbicides, such as Roundup®, do not discriminate. They will kill any plants with which they come in contact.
Most minimum risk pesticides (those that are exempt from the registration process because they pose little or no risk to humans and the environment) are non-selective.
Definition of “organic”:
“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic’, a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified too.”
“If a cosmetic, body care product, or personal care product contains or is made up of agricultural ingredients, and can meet the USDA/ NOP organic production, handling, processing and labeling standards, it may be eligible to be certified… Once certified, cosmetics, personal care products, and body care products are eligible for the same 4 organic labeling categories as all other agricultural products, based on their organic content and other factors.”
100% Organic: All ingredients must be organic, except water and salt. May display USDA organic seal. Must provide name of certifying agent.
Organic: At least 95% of ingredients must be organic, except water and salt. May display USDA organic seal. Must provide name of certifying agent.
Made with Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of ingredients must be organic, except water and salt. Product may not carry USDA organic seal. Must provide name of certifying agent. Processed products may not be produced with excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. Up to 3 specific ingredients may be listed on front of package. Ex: Made with organic peas, carrots, and corn.
_ % Organic (less than 70% organic ingredients): Label may indicate percentage of organic ingredients when organically produced ingredients are identified in the ingredient statement. Product may not carry USDA organic seal or certifying agent seal.
Organophosphates are nervous system toxins that inhibit cholinesterase enzymes. They have been used as insecticides since the 1930s and were used as nerve agents in World War II. Effects on insects are similar to their effects on humans.
Organophosphates are made from the chemical reaction of alcohol and phosphoric acid.
OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUG (OTC Drug)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
Drugs are “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease” and “articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals” [Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), sec. 201(g)(1)].
“Over-the-counter (OTC) drug products are those drugs that are available to consumers without a prescription…There are more than 80 therapeutic categories of OTC drugs, ranging from acne drug products to weight control drug products.”
“Some items…meet the definitions of both cosmetics and drugs. This may happen when a product has two intended uses. For example, a shampoo is a cosmetic because its intended use is to cleanse the hair. An antidandruff treatment is a drug because its intended use is to treat dandruff. Consequently, an antidandruff shampoo is both a cosmetic and a drug, because it is intended to cleanse the hair and treat dandruff. Among other cosmetic/drug combinations are toothpastes that contain fluoride, deodorants that are also antiperspirants, and moisturizers and makeup marketed with sun-protection claims. Such products must comply with the requirements for both cosmetics and drugs.”
For more information:
OTC Drug Facts Label
Published on January 23, 2015