1. Toxins found in bottled water

    Toxins found in bottled water

    I've been pretty outspoken about the nation's water obsession. This strange and incredibly enduring fad is one of the true triumphs of marketing - after all, the bottled water biz is a multimillion-dollar operation. And all because there's this perception (actually, it's a misperception) that drinking lots of water is really good for you.

    I wonder how those marketing geniuses will spin this next bit of information. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just found that the contents of bottled water brands were "no different than that of tap water." In fact, the same sorts of nastiness that seeps into the public water supply - namely trace elements of fertilizer, prescription medication, and a bevy of chemicals - can end up in your bottled water as well.

    So much for the images of fresh, clean mountain streams the bottled water industry loves to promote. While these are not outright claims of purity, they do imply that the product is drawn from or, at the very least, filtered to a purity standard that exceeds tap water. This is hardly the case.

    The actual purity of bottled water is one of the industry's more closely guarded secrets. In fact, the EWG's report points out that the bottled water industry refused to release any of their internal data that would support the claims (or implied claims) that their product is superior. Sounds fishy to me.

    The EWG's study found as many as 38 pollutants in 10 of the most popular brands of bottled water. In all, the EWG discovered carcinogens in bottled water from five states (California, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia) and Washington, D.C. The worst offenders were the waters put out by big chain retailers Walmart and Giant. The carcinogens discovered were at levels that significantly exceeded the bottled water industry's own self-imposed standards.

    I'm sure you can imagine that regulating bottled water isn't exactly high on that government agency's list of things to do. And let's be honest - even if it were, I doubt it would make a lick of difference.

    There's two things at work against bottled water. First of all, many bottled waters aren't drawn from "artesian wells," a fancy term for "from the ground." In fact, the source of many bottled waters is the public water supply. But here's where it gets dicey: bottled water isn't subject to federal regulations the way the public water supply is. Not that the regulations on the public water supply should make you feel any better, given the toxins that are put there on purpose.

    The best way to guarantee you're getting safe, toxin-free water is to purchase a reverse osmosis filter and install it at your house.

    You've got mail and gonorrhea!

    Well, you just knew it would come to this. There's a new Internet service that will help you break the news to a sexual partner that you've left them with a bit more than a pleasant memory of a steamy evening. The new inSPOT service will notify your sexual partners that you've exposed them to all manner of STDs via email.

    So far, reports indicated that as many as 30,000 people have used the service to break the news to lovers that they've might have syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia you name it.

    An official from the San Francisco Department of Health says the system is "an innovative and effective way to enable people to communicate with their sex partners."

    I question just how effective this "system" really is. The subject line of inSpot email reads: "E-card from a concerned friend re: your health via inSpot." Be honest: wouldn't that be one of the first emails you'd delete? It reeks of junk mail.

    I also don't like what this says about where our society is headed. It's disturbing to me that 30,000 people were willing to have sex with another person, but lacked the common human decency to talk to them in person - or even over the phone - to let them know that their sexual adventures could have serious health consequences.

  2. Chinese fire drill

    Chinese fire drill

    STDs on the rise

    Here we are, a mere quarter century after the mania of an AIDS epidemic sent everyone scrambling for their condoms and vowing ever-lasting monogamy, and yet it seems that no one in this country has learned their lesson: Sleeping around just isn't a healthy habit.

    Last year, there were more than 1 million reported cases of Chlamydia (known more crudely as "the Clap") in the U.S. - an all-time high. Gonorrhea rates are also on the rise. And so is syphilis. Cases of congenital syphilis - the kind that deforms and kills babies - actually increased for the first time in 15 years.

    Three-quarters of women infected with Chlamydia show no symptoms. But when left untreated, this infection can ultimately lead to infertility - a devastating result for an ailment that's easily eradicated when it's caught early.

    I'm particularly concerned with the revelation in these reports that a number of gonorrhea cases are being caused by an antibiotic-resistant "superbug." New bacteria that can't be battled with standard treatments are always a cause for worry.

    The CDC has tried to put a happy face on these grim statistics, saying that the higher number of reported cases may actually be the result of better and more intensive screening. I don't buy it.

    Statistics like these are the mile markers of cultural decline. We have created an atmosphere of permissiveness and acceptance of intolerable behavior not only in society as a whole, but among our youth in particular. Monogamy and abstinence are not punch lines. And today, they needn't even be about good morals, but about good health.

    In recent months, I've written (and ranted) about the rising teen pregnancy rate, and a massive ad campaign for Merck's drug Gardasil, encouraging parents to get their young daughters a vaccine to "prevent cervical cancer." (The vaccine targets the human papilloma virus, which can only be spread by sexual contact. Still, you won't see Merck spending a dime to push abstinence, the only real cure for HPV.)

    But no one seems to care. Least of all advertisers or TV executives who are continually flooding every available vista of the American landscape with sexually charged images of teens and near-teens. And then everyone sits around and tsk-tsks, shrugging their shoulders as if to say, "hormones will be hormones" while these dangerous sexually transmitted diseases continue to be spread. It's nauseating.

    Unfortunately, the fact remains that catching these diseases tends to be a lot more fun than catching a cold or pink eye, which is what can make them so difficult to rein in. It's not trendy to say, but the cold, hard fact is that if you're not having sex, you are at ZERO risk for ANY of these diseases. Need a hint? They're called "STDs" - sexually transmitted diseases. If you're not sexually active, the disease CAN'T be transmitted to you. But this simple reality never seems to dawn on anyone.

    Ultimately, it seems that people would rather accept the sexual objectification of our children, and laugh at the "nave" few who tout abstinence as the ultimate solution to the spread of these diseases. STDs are behavioral diseases. And if you avoid the kinds of behavior that causes these maladies, you won't get them. It's as simple as that.

    Category: Things NOT to recycle

    If the 21st century is truly destined to be "The Chinese Century" as so many trend experts predict, we're in for a fairly disgusting and unhygienic hundred years. This little item should give you an idea of why.

    Apparently, the future masters of planet Earth are recycling used condoms, and re- purposing them as cheap hair bands. Yes, you read that right: the Chinese are re-using CONDOMS as fashion items.

    If you want to take a moment to go to the restroom and vomit, I'll wait.

    This report comes from the Chinese state-run media, and should come as no surprise to anyone who's been following the recent spate of dangerous Chinese imports like lead- paint toys and toxic toothpaste that have found their way into American households. These hair bands have been found in local markets and beauty salons throughout southern China.

    The fact that they sell for three cents for a bag of 10 probably accounts for their popularity. So they're saving some money - but at what cost? The condoms may still contain bacteria and viruses in spite of the fact that they've been recycled.

    Excuse me. My turn to run to the bathroom.

2 Item(s)