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By Laura Stec

Chemical Breakdown

Uploaded: Sep 5, 2016

A friend handed me red wine in a Styrofoam cup at the Santa Cruz camp talent show this Labor Day.

We laughed - it brought back memories of how much I hate the stuff. The way it dulls or clouds what you put in, or serve on it. Especially red wine. How do you describe that effect?

So we toasted a hardy goodbye, in honor of Styrofoam’s Last Stand. In 2007, San Francisco banned all white, fluffy polystyrene food to-go containers (and more than 100 cities followed suit). As of January 1, it will be unlawful in the city to sell polystyrene packing materials like annoying foam peanuts that get stuck on your fingers and you can’t get off; also day-use coolers, and meat/fish packaging trays.

This is good news in regards to a substance that doesn’t break down in landfills, and is filling our oceans with more plastic than fish.


We still had wine in the cup, so we toasted again, this time to chemical breakdown #2 of the week, the FDA’s reprimand and edict on antibacterial soaps. On September 2nd, 19 useless chemicals we use all the time, like triclosan and triclocarban, were banned; chemicals they’ve been testing on us for years, while we slather them all over our hands and the bodies of our children.

“Consumers don't need to use antibacterial soaps, and some of them may even be dangerous,” says the Food and Drug Administration. “Companies have a year to take these ingredients out of their products or remove the products from the market.”

This bugs me even more because of my growing fondness for all things microbiome. I wonder what these purposeless, greedy chemicals are doing to them?

So I guess it’s time to learn a little more about chemicals in our food systems and pantries, right? Your homework, if you choose to accept it, is to read Toxics Across America, and so will I. Then we’ll discuss it. This 2014 Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) report tallies billions of pounds of chemicals in the American marketplace known or strongly suspected to cause increasingly common disorders, such as developmental disabilities, certain cancers, and infertility.

I feel better already.

Other resources:
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Breast Cancer Fund