Monthly Archives: November 2016

Clothing company forced to remove ‘Gluten Free’ T-shirt after 53,000 angry

The Western world has obviously been at peace for far too long and has prospered far too much, because these days we have so little to actually worry about, apparently, that too many of us sit around and wait to be “offended.”

In past tumultuous times, when Europeans and Americans were fighting for their very lives, trivial things were just that – trivial – and what’s more, we could all tell the difference. If something did bother us, we were mature enough to realize that a) there is no global requirement that says every person, everywhere, has a right to never be offended; and b) at some point in time something we all say or do is likely to offendsomeone else, because that’s just the way life works. Or rather, that used to be the way life worked.

As you read this story, try to imagine someone in some bombed-out Syrian hellhole caring much about it.

As reported by the UK’s Daily Mail, clothing retailer Zara pulled a T-shirt emblazoned with a “gluten-free” slogan from shelves after whiny customers complained that it was insensitive, among other things (when in reality, that’s not at all what the company was going for).

Thousands “offended”

The white graphic T-shirt read simply, “ARE YOU GLUTEN FREE?” no doubt as a way of heightening awareness of how gluten can be hard on some people’s digestive systems. But this basic message was too much for some shoppers, who became enraged and lost their minds, accusing the Spanish fashion brand of trivializing celiac disease.

Marta Casadesus, from Terrassa, Spain, was so ticked off that she launched a petition drive to have the T-shirt removed. She was joined by some 53,000 other whiners, and Zara has since apologized – for some reason.

Casadesus posted her campaign on Change.org and wrote that she was passing a Zara store when she noticed a mannequin posing with a crop top featuring the message. She claimed that the slogan “caused me indignation” because to her the message was not “appropriate.”

“Coeliac disease is not a fad, nor is it a disease to take it in jest, because of the strictness of the diet that must be followed, gluten-free, and the problems it can cause if it is not done properly,” Casesus complained, as translated and reported by the Daily Mail.

“The message of this shirt trivialises an important health problem, which affects morepeople and should be considered whenever the intolerant person – gluten, in this case – is eating out, for example.

“For this reason it does not seem right that these messages fill the streets, as they have a role contrary to what the awareness and education in this sense intended,” she whined on.

“They can be quite influential and therefore its role could be more educational than is today. I started this petition to ask Zara to apologize to the Spanish coeliac group and commit to not trivialise this disease.”

Taking the wrong things too seriously

Others who saw the petition and agreed with its premise also missed the point.

Lauren Shaw posted on Twitter that she couldn’t believe the design. She complained: “It is not a trend, it’s a serious diet.”

Someone with the Twitter handle @Murelimoos tweeted: “Why joke about an actual food intolerance?”

And Raul Orruno posted: “They no longer respect anything. Anything goes in order to generate profits.”

To believe that Zara, which aims its designs at younger people, would purposely design an article of clothing to anger that very demographic is beyond absurd, but then critical thinking seems to have been decimated among today’s younger generation. There was a time when people would have appreciated the fact that a major clothing maker was attempting to draw attention to a condition that its designers – who, truth be told, are probably around the same age as “the offended” – are very in tune with.

Western civilization needs something serious to contend with in a bad way, something that will force us to get over ourselves and stop taking the wrong things so seriously.

Yellow dye in clothing, maps and napkins contain cancer-causing PCBs

 They’re called polychlorinated biphenyls, and the Environmental Protection Agency banned them about 35 years ago.

PCBs, as they are more commonly referred to, “belong to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons,” the EPA says on its website. They were domestically produced from about 1929 until they were eventually banned in 1979.

Over the years, scientists found that PCBs exhibited a range of properties; they varied in consistency from thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids.

Because they weren’t flammable, were chemically stable, had a high boiling point and displayed electrical insulation properties, PCBs were used commercially in hundreds of ways: electrical and heat transfer, in hydraulic equipment, in paints as plasticizers, in plastics and rubber products, in carbonless copy paper and, as the title of this investigation suggests, as pigmentation in dyes.

In short, PCBs were everywhere. In fact, they still are.

Once in the environment, PCBs have staying power

One of the problems with PCBs is their longevity. They are capable of remaining in the environment and in ecosystems for decades. That’s because they do not break down readily. So they cycle between the water, air and soil.

They can also travel long distances. They have been found, for instance, in snow and seawater far away from where they were initially released into the environment.

“PCBs can accumulate in the leaves and above-ground parts of plants and food crops. They are also taken up into the bodies of small organisms and fish. As a result, people who ingest fish may be exposed to PCBs that have bioaccumulated in the fish they are ingesting,” the EPA says.

What makes them hazardous — and why they were eventually banned — is their link to health problems: cancer, as well as ill effects on the immune, reproductive, endocrine and nervous systems.

Banned, yes, but they are still being produced

Fast-forward three-and-a-half decades. Today, though PCBs were officially banned in the U.S., they are still showing up in manufactured products: paper products, paint and even kids’ clothing.

In fact, PCB-11 — found largely in yellow dye from products manufactured mostly in Asia — has been detected in just about every sample of paper products sold in 26 countries, as well as clothing in the U.S.

This finding led scientists to understand how, after all these years, the chemical was being discovered in people’s blood, in the air and in waterways.

What’s more, because it is an unintentional byproduct of pigment manufacture, PCB-11found in consumer products is exempt from U.S. laws that regulate such compounds.

“It’s out there in levels that are worrisome,” Lisa Rodenburg, an associate professor of environmental chemistry at Rutgers University and senior author of a recent study identifying PCB-11 in consumer products, told Environmental Health News.

“Even at the parts per billion levels, if you find it in almost everything you test, that means people are in almost constant contact,” she said.

Getting around the few regulations that exist

While the health effects of PCB-11 have not yet been studied, it is unlike the older, banned PCBs, because it does not appear to accumulate in people or animals. Still, it is a PCB, which leaves experts concerned.

“Chemical regulations barely exist,” Barry A. Cik, a noted environmental engineer and expert who has advised Congress and the White House, told Natural News. “There are 250 pounds of chemicals produced every year for every man, woman, and child in this country. Virtually all of it is pretty much unregulated.”

And companies use this dearth of regulation to their advantage, as Cik notes:

“Let’s say that you’re manufacturing vinyl and you use arsenic in the process. You begin the run with a hundred pounds of arsenic. At the end of the run, you’re left with five pounds of mucky yucky arsenic, which can no longer be used. That five pounds has to go, by law, to a hazardous waste landfill. But the other 95 pounds that went into the vinyl can go on a baby mattress. Totally legal.”

In Rodenburg’s testing, PCB-11 was found in all 28 tested samples of non-U.S. paper products treated with ink. They included maps, napkins, brochures, postcards and advertisements. The compound was concentrated in the parts-per-billion range.

In the U.S., 15 of 18 paper products had PCB-11.

Also, all 16 samples of U.S. clothing contained PCB-11, and most of those were children’s wear which were purchased at Wal-Mart stores but made overseas. In one child’s pajama top, on the front (which had yellow printing), there was 20 times more PCB-11 than on the back, which was red.

“PCB 11 is ubiquitously present as a by-product in commercial pigment applications, particularly in printed materials,” said the authors from Rutgers University and Boston College, in a draft of the study. It is expected to be published later this year after already having been peer-reviewed.

“Everyone has ignored the lower chlorinated congeners, primarily because they are not persistent and are relatively easily metabolized in the human body,” Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-SUNY, told Environmental Health News. Nevertheless, it’s a “very real and important issue.”

PCB-11 turning up in more and more places

In 2013, University of Iowa researchers said that PCB-11 had been found to disrupt cell signaling after having been discovered in blood samples. Also, Carpenter and a team of researchers found that PCB-9, which is similar to PCB-11, was more toxic than other PCB compounds.

“If they are in the air and one breathes them in every day, there will be continuous exposure to what I suspect are very toxic substances,” said Carpenter.

Some other recent disturbing findings:

— The compound was present in nearly every air sample near 40 Chicago-area elementary schools in 2007.

— Paints may be a significant source of air emissions. Researchers have found more than 50 PCB compounds in 33 paint samples that were purchased at U.S. stores.

— PCB-11 is mostly found in yellow pigments, called diarylides, and much of this manufacturing occurs in Asia.

— The compound is now regularly found in U.S. waterways. It has been discovered in the San Francisco Bay, the Great Lakes region (several locations), the Rio Grande and the Houston Ship Channel. Some of these findings led researchers to speculate that washing clothes which contain the yellow pigment enables the compound to slip into bodies of water.

Cik, the environmental engineer, says we are fooling ourselves if we think that all of this exposure won’t ultimately be harmful.

“There are about 80,000 chemicals in the marketplace. Not even 1 percent of them have really been tested for toxicity,” he told Natural News. “The chemical industry says that it’s not a problem because ‘the dose makes the poison.’ Technically correct, but the problem is that no one knows what doses of what chemicals do what kind of harm to who. And there is no way to assess cumulative and synergistic effects.”

Beyonce’s clothing line assembled by ‘slave’ workers

 Beyonce’s new sportswear clothing line Ivy Park, the intention of which is supposedly to “empower women through sport,” is coming under fire for allegedly using sweatshop labor, The Sun reports.

“My goal with Ivy Park is to push the boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance,” Beyonce said during a recent appearance at London’s Topshop, one of Ivy Parks’s global retailers.

For the garment workers, who are mainly young girls and women, Ivy Park is anything but inspiring or empowering. To manufacture the sportswear, the pop star teamed up with Philip Green, whose investment company Arcadia Group owns several fashion retail chains, including Topshop. For Green, it is not the first time he’s come under fire for mistreating workers.

Beyonce’s clothing line accused of using ‘sweatshop slaves’

The British Tabloid The Sun claims that the clothes are being made by young women in horrible sweatshop conditions at the MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka. They work up to 60 hours a week, and earn just a little over $6 a day, which is barely enough to survive and feed their families.

Furthermore, the paper reports that these seamstresses have to live in slave-like conditions. They are cramped in 100-room boarding houses, and are often not allowed to leave their rooms after the strict 10:30pm curfew.

“We don’t have our own kitchen or shower, it’s just a small bedroom,” one 22-year-old sewing machine operator told the newspaper. “We have to share the shower block with the men so there isn’t much privacy. It is shocking and many of the women are very scared.”

Like thousands of other young girls and women working in garment factories across South-East Asia, she was forced to move from her rural home in the countryside because her parents weren’t able to feed her and there were no jobs available there.

Another garment worker the paper spoke to, a 40-year old who has worked for the company for 11 years, said that there is little opportunity to escape poverty. While most new workers are paid a base salary of 18,500 rupees ($126) a month, her wage has gone up to 21,000 rupees ($143) per month, and she still struggles to survive.

She said: “I have worked here many years and my money is a bit more now. I have to work many hours overtime to pay for everything and there is no money left afterwards.”

Ivy Park sportswear line denies claims

Ivy Park told The Independent that the story published by The Sun was “unfounded.”

“Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading programme,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance. We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements.”

Despite the inhumane working and living conditions, nothing about the situation is illegal. According to MAS Holdings, the Sri Lankan factory which produces Beyonce’s clothes, their workers are all paid more than the minimum wage, which is 13,500 rupees ($92) a month.

However, campaigners told The Sun that workers realistically need to make 43,000 rupees ($288) a month to make a living wage.

Jakub Sobik, from the charity Anti-Slavery International, said: “This is a form of sweat shop slavery. There are a number of elements here that tick the boxes in terms of slavery, the low pay, restriction of women’s movement at night and locking them in.”

“Companies like Topshop have a duty to find out if these things are happening, and it has long been shown that ethical inspections by these companies are failing. They should be replaced by independent inspections.”

Children’s clothing found loaded with endocrine-disrupting chemicals

 Three major clothing lines based in Sweden and Norway are selling products that contain toxic chemicals,reported NewsinEnglish.no. KappAhl and H&M, both Sweden-based clothing chains, and Cubus, a Norway-based company, were caught selling articles of clothing in which one out of three contained DBP or DEHP.

Dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, is a commonly used plasticizer that was banned by the European Union (EU) in 1999 for use in products like nail polish, cosmetics and children’s toys. The United States followed suit, banning the chemical in 2006.

Due to its low cost, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, is also used to manufacture plastics. It’s one of six compounds that the EU claimed to remove from the market in early 2011; however, the testing conducted by the Norwegian Consumer Council found this to be untrue.

Researchers also identified the chemical nonylfenoletoxilat (NPEO) in some items, “which breaks down to the endocrine disruptor nonylfenol” and can act as a hormone disruptor.

NPEOs aren’t banned but restricted to limited use in the EU.

The study was completed ahead of a seminar on protecting consumers against toxic substances, held by Norwegian and Danish councils earlier this month.

Researchers believe both chemicals to be endocrine disruptors, responsible for increasing cancer, fertility complications, damage to fetuses, type 2 diabetes, obesity and ADHD in humans.

“It is disturbing that every third children’s garment we tested contained substances with properties that could be harmful,” said council director Randi Flesland. “These are substances that should not be found in children’s clothing.”

Scandinavia’s toxic clothing industry

Cubus services customers throughout Sweden and Norway, while H&M has stores in the U.S. KappAhl’s international website ships clothing to Finland, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

KappAhl was the first fashion chain store to be certified according to the environmental management standard, with 18 percent of their products labeled “eco,” meaning that they met certain criteria mandated by the state. The label was intended to help customers make healthier, safer choices for both humans and the environment.

The chain stores responded to the testing, arguing that the chemical levels are below “what’s deemed acceptable.” However, the council countered that even a small amount of exposure to these chemicals could be very harmful, particularly for children.

“Scientists warned the chemicals may have no safe lower limit, and exposure to even very small amounts during vulnerable stages such as during fetal development could result in damage manifesting later in life,” reported NewsinEnglish.no. “The substances are banned in games and products for young children.”

The council director added:

Children and youths are extra vulnerable to harmful chemicals and are not well enough protected by the current legislation.

Dangerous substances in everyday products are an increasing problem. It is completely unacceptable that consumers should bear this risk on behalf of the industry. When prominent scientists shout warnings about what endocrine-disrupting substances can do to our health, politicians must wake up.

The Detox Campaign, which focuses on pressuring major clothing brands to commit to using zero dangerous chemicals in their products by 2020, found the following brands to contain similar harmful substances: Adidas, American Apparel, Burberry, C&A, Disney, GAP, Li-Ning, Nike, Primark, Puma and Uniqlo.

Each brand tested contained hazardous chemicals, said Greenpeace. One Adidas swimsuit tested for high levels of perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOAs), higher than the company’s own set standards. According to the EPA, PFOAs do not occur naturally but are very persistent in the environment and remain in people for a very long time.

Developmental and other adverse health effects are known to occur in laboratory animals exposed to PFOAs.

“Norwegian authorities must put significantly more pressure on the EU to ban the substances, while the industry must be encouraged to start phasing them out immediately,” argued Flesland.

Large, powerful chemical companies often pressure governments into leniency regarding repercussions for violating human health standards. Flesland said a “non-toxic action plan” must be put in motion with government enforcement.

Cubus’ communications manager, Julie Bragli Eckhardt, assured that the chain would examine the test results and act accordingly.

“H&M’s chemical restrictions have since 1999 voluntarily contained strict restrictions against NPEO,” said press officer Kristin Fjeld.

Since the test results fell below set standards, “It tells us that NPEO has not been used on purpose, but rather has rubbed off on clothing through contamination,” said Fjeld, adding that contamination can occur during transport.