Archive for January, 2012
It’s that time of year. Cold and flu season is here. The focus is on microbes and germs and getting rid of them before illness befalls. As a matter of fact, killing germs has become a national obsession!
Researchers at Arizona State University have been studying the impacts of antibacterial products on the market and their findings have been of great importance in our misguided efforts to create a germ-free world.
Triclosan and triclocarban are chemical compounds found in wide variety of personal care products such as antimicrobial soaps and triclosan is formulated into products ranging from plastics and toys to clothing. Rolf Halden, a researcher with the ASU Biodesign Institute, began asking if these antimicrobial chemicals are safe for human health and the environment. The answer is an emphatic “NO”!!
Antimicrobials first appeared in commercial hand soaps in the ‘80’s and by 2001, 76% of liquid hand soaps contained triclosan.
Halden’s team tracked the environmental ramifications of the active ingredients in personal care products. They found that triclosan and triclocarban first aggregate in wastewater sludge and then travel to soils and natural waterways where they can persist for years. These chemicals are notoriously difficult to break down and they are averse to water, sticking in particles and decreasing breakdown and leading to transport in water and air.
Both triclosan and triclocarban have been linked to endocrine system distruption with potential negative impacts on sexual and neurological development. The accumulation in these chemicals in the natural environment may in the long run increase the possibility that a super-bug, resistant to the antimicrobials developed to kill them. The impacts on human health could be dire.
We need effective regulation of these chemicals but agencies are weighed down by inertia. We must all tread labels and avoid any products containing triclosan and triclocarban.
My writing is based on the article that appeared several months ago in the ASU University News publication and has been posted on my office wall since then. Today is the day that it again caught my attention. As an ecologist, I have long been aware that our soils and waterways are at peril from the compounds and chemicals that are making their way from the store shelf into the natural world. We have a long tradition of pouring old medications and toxins into home toilets, which has had a devastating impact on rivers and streams and their denizens.
Halden states that “The culture of fear leads people to make impulsive decisions and buy a lot of antimicrobial products that are not really needed. It’s a profitable market to be in, but not one that is ultimately sustainable or a good idea.”
I am amazed to see the paperwhites blooming! And my fruit trees are loaded with blossom nodes. The seasons here are way out of normal rythmn and its hard to plan ahead. Used to be we planted our winter gardens in late August, early September. Now, we planted the winter garden mid November. I say “we”, but it was Brett who planted for us.
The cycle of flood irrigation begins today in our neighborhood and the big trees are waiting, forming leaf buds in January. If this warmth continues, grasses will start greening and flowers will start blooming….and then, of course, we will get 3 days of killing frost! Has anyone else noticed how Valley weather has changed over the past 5 years? Today is a beautiful, blue skies, warm sunny day. We could have an outdoor brunch in the warm part of the afternoon.
Granted, this is why we live here, but we all know that summer will follow. Last year we had 189 days over 100 degrees.
As the climate experts gather data to determine whether we have isolated blips or a trend, the gardeners among us dash to get our seeds and transplants into the ground after the heat breaks and before the frosts hit. Dates we used to know and follow. But the times they are a-changing.
And just a quick reminder-Arctic Blast is a terrific organic pest control spray. Spray it on aphids, white flies, mealy bugs, fungus gnats and ants. And if you get a cut or scratch in the garden, it’s a full antiseptic–spray it on to prevent infection til you can get it cleaned up and a bandage on. Enjoy your garden and eat your veggies!! Peace.
You are currently browsing the Herb 'N Organics' Weblog blog archives for January, 2012.