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FDA Issues Neutral Triclosan Use Statement

WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a statement Thursday, saying it does not yet have enough information to recommend use or non-use of triclosan.

The chemical — a common ingredient added to many consumer products, including antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes and some cosmetics — is designed to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination.

In January, U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Maine, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, asked the FDA about its ongoing review of triclosan in consumer products.

“In light of animal studies raising questions about triclosan’s safety, the agency is engaged in an ongoing scientific review to incorporate the most up-to-date data and information into the regulations that govern consumer products containing triclosan,” the federal agency said. But, officials added, “The FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time.”

But officials said the agency currently has no evidence triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.

The FDA said it expects its review to be completed early next year.

More information is available at

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Study Documents U.S. Industrial Water Use

PITTSBURGH, April 1 (UPI) — In the first study of its kind in 30 years, scientists say they have documented industry’s use of water resources in the United States.

Carnegie Mellon University Professor Chris Hendrickson and colleagues said industry, including agriculture, has long been recognized as the biggest consumer of water in the United States. However, estimates of water consumption on an industry-by-industry basis are incomplete and outdated, with the last figures from the U.S. Census Bureau dating to 1982.

The scientists said they estimated water use among more than 400 industrial sectors and discovered most water use occurs indirectly as a result of processing, such as packaging and shipping food crops to the supermarket, rather than direct use, such as watering crops.

Among the findings for consumer products: It takes 200 gallons of water to make $1 worth of dog or cat food, 270 gallons to place $1 worth of sugar on store shelves and 140 gallons of water to make $1 worth of milk.

“The study gives a way to look at how we might use water more efficiently and allows us to hone in on the sectors that use the most water so we can start generating ideas and technologies for better management,” the scientists said.

The research is published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumer Products, Consumption, Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Other0 Comments

Swiss Alps Wildlife Hurt by Increase in Winter Tourism

BERN, Switzerland, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Swiss authorities say they are urging winter tourists to be aware of their impact on wildlife in the Alps.

With the booming popularity of winter sports such as free-ride snowboarding and snowshoe walking, Alpine wildlife — especially its deer population — is being impacted as never before, and officials are becoming concerned that human activity is threatening their survival, Swissinfo reported Sunday.

In response, Swiss federal wildlife officials, in cooperation with environmental groups and tourism managers, have launched an international awareness campaign urging visitors to stick to established routes, the Web site said.

Swiss mountain ranger Andres Overturf wouldn’t point fingers at any particular sport or activity, but noted that skiers, snowboarders and cross-country snowshoe hikers are all impacting wildlife by taking unpredictable paths.

“Animals can get used to human presence off-piste but only if people stick to the same routes and zones,” Overturf told Swissinfo, saying wild animals are losing crucial retreat spaces and must expend much physical energy to run away through high snow and cold temperatures.

“Added to this is food scarcity and often there is not enough time to rest because of the stress,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Animals, Business & Economics, Consumer Products, Ecosystems, Mammals, Nature & Ecosystems, Pollution & Toxins, Recreation & Travel, Walking0 Comments

Toy Company Removes Global Warming Series Because of Political Heat

OVERLAND, Mo., Dec. 24 (UPI) — A Missouri toy company has removed videos from its Web site that annoyed conservatives with a message about global warming in Santa’s Workshop.

Although the Build-A-Bear Workshop has taken down the videos, Chief Executive Officer Maxine Clark defended it them a statement posted at the Web site, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday.

“Our intention with the polar bear story was to inspire children, through the voices of our animal characters, to make a difference in their own individual ways,” Clark said in her letter. “We did not intend to politicize the topic of global climate change or offend anyone in any way.”

The videos include a polar bear warning Santa the North Pole might melt before Christmas. Clark pointed out the series has a happy ending with Santa Claus leaving for his Christmas Eve trip.

Conservative bloggers accused the company of aiming propaganda at children.

“It is one thing to use fear-mongering and scare tactics when attempting to win adults over to a particular point of view; it is quite another when using those tactics against very young, impressionable children,” Darren Pope of said in a letter to Clark posted on his Web site.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumer Products, Toys & Hobbies0 Comments

Plastic Bags Recycled into Batteries at Argonne National Laboratory

ARGONNE, Ill., Dec. 22 (UPI) — Plastic bags found in abundance at grocery stores could be recycled into carbon nanotubes, a component in lithium ion batteries, an Illinois scientist said.

Vilas Pol, of Argonne National Laboratory 25-miles southwest of Chicago, developed the process as a way to turn plastic waste into an energy resource, the Southtown Star reported Tuesday.

With cobalt acetate as a catalyst, plastic bags were heated to 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit, which caused the carbon in the plastic to grow as nanotubes on the cobalt particles, Pol said, noting the process could be used on plastic water bottles and plastic cups.

The cobalt acetate, which is relatively expensive, could be recovered when the batteries were recycled, Pol said. Performing the process without cobalt acetate yields carbon spheres that could be used in printer ink.

Yet to be determined is how to collect enough bags to make the project cost efficient, Pol said. Recycling programs find the bags difficult to collect because they often get swept up in air currents, causing a problem for curbside collectors and recycling centers.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumer Products, Consumer Waste, Electronic Waste, Electronics, House & Home, Packaging, Recycling, Recycling & Waste, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Obama Seeks Incentives for Home Energy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — President Barack Obama Tuesday called on Congress to provide temporary incentives for U.S. homeowners who invest in energy-efficient retrofitting.

“The simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more energy-efficient … is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put America back to work while saving money and reducing harmful emissions,” Obama said during a visit to a Home Depot in Alexandria, Va., while ticking off retrofitting examples such as installing new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, correcting ceiling leaks and modernizing heating and cooling equipment.

He also noted energy-related investments made under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act put the nation on a pace “to upgrade the homes of half a million Americans by this time next year … boosting the economy, saving money on energy, creating clean energy jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

And there’s another reason to retrofit, Obama said to some chuckles — insulation is sexy.

“Here’s what sexy about it: saving money,” he said. “You put in the insulation, you — you weatherize your home now, you will make up that money in a year or two years or three years, and then everything after that is just gravy.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Consumer Products, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency & Weatherization, Homes & Buildings, House & Home0 Comments

Obama Administration and EPA Seeks Upgrade of Chemical Regulations

The Obama administration says it is moving to update the regulation of thousands of chemicals used in U.S. consumer products and in workplaces.

Both public health advocates and chemical industry representatives welcomed the plan, the latter because they see it as a way to end moves by U.S. states and cities to regulate chemicals on their own and to reassure worried consumers, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to replace the Toxic Substances Control Act, which was passed in 1976 and which the newspaper said is seen as so ineffective, it did not allow the government to ban asbestos, a known carcinogen, decades ago.

The Inquirer said under the provisions of the proposed legislation, chemical makers would need to share more risk information about both existing products and new creations, while their ability to withhold data on claims of trade secrets would be cut.

“We can create a system that will result in an enhanced level of consumer confidence,” American Chemistry Council President Calvin Dooley told the newspaper.

Posted in Chemicals, Consumer Products, Other, Policy, Law, & Government, Toxic Substances0 Comments

Bosch Thermotechnology Boilers Recalled for Carbon Monoxide Poison

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) — The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of Bosch Thermotechnology gas boilers due to a carbon monoxide poison hazard.

About 85 gas boilers made in Germany for Bosch Thermotechnology Corp. of Londonderry, N.H., could have ignition problems due to a lack of sufficient voltage from the boiler’s transformer, the commission said in a statement. As a result, the boiler’s venting system could be compromised.

The recall involves Buderus GB312 gas-fired condensing boilers that stand 60 inches high and between 39 and 55 inches wide. BUDERUS GB312 is printed on the side of the recalled boilers.

The boilers were sold to contractors nationwide from April 2008 through February 2009 for between $12,000 and $24,000 installed, the commission said.

Bosch Thermotechnology is contacting or has contacted consumers to make repairs to the boilers.

Consumers can call 800-283-3787 for information.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumer Products, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Toxic Chemicals Found in Flip-flops; Humans & Environment at Risk

MANILA, Philippines, Sept. 16 (UPI) — Some flip-flops and plastic shoes sold in the Philippines contain toxic chemicals that are dangerous to humans and the earth, an environmental group says.

EcoWaste Coalition says a recent study found 17 of the 27 pairs of flip-flops, sandals, clogs and other plastic shoes tested contained phthalates, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Wednesday.

The chemicals, used as a softening agent for polyvinyl chloride plastic, have been associated with developmental and reproductive disorders, EcoWaste President Manny Calonzo said.

“There is no justification for the continued use of harmful chemicals such as phthalates in consumer products that could pose grave health and environmental risks,” Calonzo said.

In 2008, the United States banned phthalates from consumer products, particularly those used by children.

The study for EcoWaste was conducted by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Chemicals, Conservation, Consumer Products, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Nike Battles Deforestation One Shoe At A Time

Greenspace released a statement praising Nike, Inc. for it’s recent decision to cease the use of leather from cattle raised in the Amazon Rain forest in an effort to curb the regions deforestation.

“We applaud the leadership that Nike is taking on the critical issue of Amazon deforestation,” Greenpeace’s national campaigns director, Lisa Finaldi, said.

Brazilian leather suppliers have been ordered by Nike to create a system that would track and record information regarding the leather being used in it’s shoes. The system, set to launch July 1st, will greatly help Nike and provide a transparent reading of how they avoiding the use of cattle in the Amazonian biome.

To learn more about Nike’s efforts for a more environmentally sound production please read the full article here.

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