Entries in Toxic (5)


Toxic Nail Polish? Steps You Can Take to Minimize Health Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Although the state of California reported finding a "toxic trio" of ingredients in some inaccurately labeled nail polishes, there's no need to give up those mani-pedis in the name of health.

"Manufacturers have broken the level of trust with the public and with the nail salon community," said Julia Liou, co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, on Tuesday before appearing with state officials to discuss the findings of the report.

"No one can trust the labels," Liou said. 

The report said that some nail polish manufacturers are making claims on their product labels to be free of the "toxic trio" of chemicals linked to cancer, asthma and birth defects, even though state testing of 25 products in some cases detected them.

While accepting that some labeling may be unreliable and could be improved, consumers who want painted nails also should think about where they're having their nails done.  Air quality inside a salon is important no matter how often patrons come in.  It's even more important to the thousands of licensed manicurists -- 121,000 in California alone -- who may breathe chemical fumes 10 hours a day, seven days a week, said Liou, a public health administrator at Asian Health Services in Oakland, who is among advocates pressing for better ventilation to dissipate the concentrated chemical vapors.

In its "Safer Nail Salons," report, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control tested 25 randomly selected nail polishes and thinners for three common chemicals that make nail lacquers shiny, quick-drying and flexible.

One of the three toxins, the aromatic solvent toluene, can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs, damage the nervous system and potentially harm an unborn child.  Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which keeps polish from becoming brittle, also can cause reproductive harm.  Formaldehyde, a nail hardener also used in a wide variety of products including air fresheners and the Brazilian Blowout hair straightener, is a known carcinogen.

Tests found toluene in 10 of a dozen products labeled toluene-free, and also identified at least one member of the toxic trio in five of seven products labeled as "three-free."

Despite the chemical exposures inherent in applying base coats, color, top coats and nail-hardeners to fingernails and toenails in the name of beauty, here are some ways to reduce health risks:

-- Consider water-based polishes like those made by Acquarella, which don't give off fumes, instead of solvent-based polishes, said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

-- Try brands like OPI and Sally Hansen, which have made concerted efforts to eliminate the most toxic chemicals from their nail polishes since the European Union banned the use of DBP in cosmetics in 2004 and a 2006 public campaign put pressure on the $6 billion nail care products industry to make formula changes, said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

-- Keep children and toddlers out of nail salons.

-- If you have a child who insists on having or attending birthday parties where nail decoration is part of the fun, think about sending her off with her own supply of a non-toxic polish from Hopscotch Kids, suggests Jennifer Taggart, a Los Angeles consumer products attorney, blogger and author of The Smart Mama's Green Guide.

-- Try to find a well-ventilated spot when you visit a nail salon.  Consider sitting close to an open window, or step outside for some fresh air, Malkan said.

-- Do-it-yourselfers should choose well-ventilated areas for at-home manicures and pedicures.

-- Reduce or eliminate your visits to nail salons as soon as you know you're pregnant.  The developing fetus is particularly sensitive to the volatile chemicals in polishes and thinners.

-- Manicurists should consider working in a well-ventilated salon.  Even better, they should have exhaust hoods at their nail stations, Malkan said.  They also should consider wearing masks and gloves to protect lungs and skin from chemical irritants.

-- If you're concerned about ingredients in your favorite brands of nail polish, Malkan suggested going to the Skin Deep online safety database, created by the Environmental Working Group, which ranks products from 0 to 10, and choose products at the lower end of the scale, from 0 to 2.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Black Madam’ Arrested for Toxic Butt Injections

Comstock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Philadelphia police on Wednesday arrested Padge Victoria Windslowe, a.k.a. the "Black Madam,” who allegedly administered illegal “butt-boosting” injections, which may have caused the death of a 20-year-old British woman last year.

Windslowe, 42, a transgender who identifies as a woman, was taken into custody at 7:30 p.m. at a home that was hosting a “pumping party,” a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department told ABC News.

Police obtained an arrest warrant for Windslowe after a 23-year-old woman was admitted to a Philadelphia-area hospital after the substance Windslowe allegedly injected into her buttocks got into her bloodstream and into her lungs.

The young woman had paid $1,000 for an injection of what she believed to be silicone, the police spokesperson said.

Lt. John Walker, of the Philadelphia Police Department, told the Philadelphia Daily News that the woman was treated and released but would need further medical treatment.

Police have suspected that Windslowe was the person who gave an injection to Claudia Aderotimi, the 20-year-old who died in February 2011 in a Philadelphia hotel room, but she was not charged because police were awaiting toxicology test results for the cause of Aderotimi’s death.

At the time of her arrest Wednesday, Windslowe had needles, Super Glue, cotton balls, paper towels and a pink bag with a 20-ounce water bottle containing what police believe was the substance she would have injected into others at the party. Walker said five other people were in the house at the time, but no injections had been administered.

Windslowe was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, deceptive practice and related offenses. Her bail is set for $10 million.

The arrest is the latest in a string of cases in which people have paid for illegal cosmetic injections, some of which have had deadly consequences.

“Plastic surgeons in the U.S. are seeing an increasing number of disastrous complications when patients see someone who is not appropriately trained,” Dr. Malcolm Roth, president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, told ABC News at the time of Aderotimi’s death.

In November, Oneal Ron Morris was arrested in Florida for administering a series of “butt-boosting” injections made from a concoction of cement, glue and tire sealant.

In January 2011, Whalesca Castillo, an unlicensed practitioner in New York City, was arrested for running an illegal business out of her home injecting women with liquid silicone in the buttocks and breasts.

And in 2010, a Miami woman, Ana Josefa Sevilla, was charged with a similar crime after one of her clients ended up in the emergency room with complications.

Plastic surgeons continue to warn consumers about the dangers of getting cosmetic procedures in non-approved facilities and from non-certified practitioners. The notion of cutting costs for a typically expensive procedure may be tempting, but the results can be very dangerous.

“There are no shortcuts to safe outcomes,” Roth said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


9/11 First Responders Plagued by Health Problems from Toxic Dust and Debris

DOUG KANTER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For many of the nearly 50,000 9/11 first responders, the wounds of the Twin Tower attacks are far from healing. According to two studies published Thursday in the British journal Lancet, these rescue workers continue to struggle with respiratory illness, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many of them may be at increased risk for developing a number of cancers.

In the months following 9/11, firefighter Kenny Specht, 43, spent every day at the site, navigating the rubble in hopes of at first rescuing people, and later recovering the bodies of those crushed when the towers fell. Though he and his fellow rescue workers were picking through rubble littered with asbestos, mercury, crushed florescent light bulbs and other known toxins, they were outfitted with only their normal uniform to protect them from potential contaminants.

"They gave us paper masks and overalls, like you'd see in home improvement shows. They let us go back to our homes every day with our contaminated gear," Specht says.

It wasn't until 2006 that he started to experience health problems. At first it was gastrointestinal issues that required him to have his gallbladder removed, but in 2007 a CAT scan following an injury on the job revealed thyroid cancer.

Though the string of cancer cases among New York firefighters who worked at 9/11 seemed like a sad coincidence when Specht was diagnosed, this Levittown, N.Y., man is now part of a trend that researchers are just beginning to understand: Those who worked at the WTC site seem to be at increased risk of cancer, especially thyroid cancer, melanoma and lymphoma. According to a study released of nearly 10,000 New York firefighters (half of whom worked at the WTC site), those from the site are 32 percent more likely to have cancer.

"I've been to 54 funerals of firefighters since 9/11 and 52 of them are cancer-related," says John Feal, a former firefighter and founder of the FealGood Foundation, an advocacy group seeking medical coverage and compensation for first responders of 9/11.

The collapse of the Twin Towers contaminated the nearby air with particles of glass, asbestos, cement, lead and other toxins. It is thought that exposure to this dust through the lungs and skin has contributed to the asthma, gastrointestinal problems, and possibly the increased cancer risk experienced by rescue workers, especially those who were on the site immediately after the attack, when the cloud of debris dust was its thickest.

"Because those responding in the first hours were stuck in the dust cloud, these were the people with the highest rate of every disease we tracked," says Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean of Global Health at Mount Sinai School of medicine and senior researcher of one of Thursday's studies. The study, which looked at medical and mental health outcomes for about 30,000 rescue workers involved in 9/11 aid work, found that nearly a third of these workers have developed asthma and between 10 and 30 percent still suffer from persistent medical disorders, including gastro-esophageal reflux, depression and PTSD, even nine years after they were exposed to the WTC site.

Though researchers expected to see some persistence in medical and mental health symptoms for these workers, Landrigan says the extent to which they are still suffering was an "unwelcome surprise."

"We're still seeing 75 to 100 new patients each month, even after all these years," he says. Landrigan urges those who worked at the WTC to seek examination at one of New York City's WTC Centers for Excellence -- hospitals that provide specialized testing and treatment for those with physical and mental health conditions associated with 9/11.

Thanks to the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, signed into law by President Obama in January, rescue workers can receive financial assistance for health problems such as those identified in Landrigan's study. At this time, however, the act does not cover cancer, as a federal analysis decided there was not enough evidence to say that 9/11 work contributed to cancer risk at that time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Do You Breathe 'Toxic' Air? Group Lists 20 Worst States

Tom Brakefield/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The people of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida breathe the air most polluted by power plants, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report, which was based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory, ranked the 20 worst states – the so-called "Toxic 20" – based on air pollution from power plants. Here's the list from worst to, well, less bad:

  1. Ohio
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Florida
  4. Kentucky
  5. Maryland
  6. Indiana
  7. Michigan
  8. West Virginia
  9. Georgia
  10. North Carolina
  11. South Carolina
  12. Alabama
  13. Texas
  14. Virginia
  15. Tennessee
  16. Missouri
  17. Illinois
  18. Wisconsin
  19. New Hampshire
  20. Iowa

According to the report by the private non-profit group, power plants are the single largest industrial source of toxic air pollution in 28 states and the District of Columbia. In Pennsylvania, airborne toxins from coal- and oil-burning plants account for 82 percent of the air pollution.

The report did not assess air pollution from non-industrial sources, which could explain why smoggy California didn't make the cut.

Metals emitted by power plants, such as nickel, cadmium and mercury, have been linked to respiratory illness, cancer and birth defects.

The EPA estimates that reducing pollution by levels proposed in the "Mercury and Air Toxics" standards, expected to be finalized in November, could save as many as 17,000 lives and prevent more than 12,000 hospital visits every year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Toxic Butt-Boosting Injections: Why Is It Still Happening?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's not the first time patients have allegedly been harmed by a risky, unapproved approach to a larger, curvier backside -- and it probably won't be the last.

So say cosmetic surgeons in response to the latest news of another untrained practitioner -- this time a 28-year-old model in New Brunswick, N.J. -- facing charges of practicing medicine without a license in offering butt-boosting injections, according to reports this week in the Star-Ledger.

Anivia Cruz-Dilworth allegedly injected six women in the buttocks with silicone bathtub caulk in March. The women reportedly showed up in hospital emergency rooms complaining of problems, several requiring surgery to treat serious bacterial infections.

Illegal butt-boosting procedures have sent other women to the hospital in recent years as well. Cosmetic surgeons said the occurrence of such procedures is evidence that much of the public remains uneducated about the difference between the risky, unapproved practice and legitimate cosmetic surgery.

"This is a real problem, especially with the slow economy," said Dr. Julius Few, commissioner of cosmetic medicine for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

"More people are trying to achieve an enhancement, all over the body, the 'easy way,' and large volume silicone injections to the buttock is an example. It seems easy, you see the change right away, and it is cheap because industrial-grade material is used, not medical."

Buttock augmentation was up 37.5 percent in 2009 from the previous year and buttock lifts were up 34.6 percent, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio