Posts Tagged "Natural"


In skin care, natural beauty is booming

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When it comes to the skin-care industry, green is definitely gold.

With new natural brands popping up, seemingly daily, and more mainstream companies introducing additional “clean” products into their lineups — eschewing ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates and more — the shift is prompting some retailers like Sephora to carve out shelf space in their stores (both bricks-and-mortar and online) dedicated to the growing green movement.

In fact, the organic beauty industry is reportedly projected to reach US$25.11 billion in sales by 2025. That’s some serious plant power.

According to Mathilde Thomas, co-founder of the French beauty brand Caudalie, the driving force behind the growth in the natural beauty industry is all thanks to an increase in consumer consciousness surrounding natural skin-care ingredients and benefits.

“Consumers are more informed than ever and looking at brands to make informed decisions from a 360-degree perspective,” Thomas explains. “While the ingredients in the products are taking centre stage, consumers are also looking at everything from a brand’s facilities down to the packaging and its environmental impact.”

That increased interest in what goes into a product is prompting brands to be more transparent about their tinctures, from production to packaging.

Tayler Mariles.


“Sustainability and brand transparency has become important in every consumer-goods category and beauty is no different,” Tayler Mariles, founder of the Vancouver-based natural beauty company Midnight Paloma, says. “Understanding what you’re putting on your face and body is just as important as knowing where the food you are feeding your family is coming from.

“Is the brand Canadian? Do they care about the people using it? Where are the ingredients sourced? All of these things are much more ‘on the radar’ now then they used to be.”

As more information about product ingredients enter the beauty-sphere, consumers are faced with the opportunity to better inform themselves on elixirs than ever before.

“People are incredibly savvy when it comes to product ingredients these days, especially in Vancouver,” Mariles says. “No one even knew what paraben was five years ago, and now you’ll get people asking if there is synthetic fragrance and chemical preservatives in our formulas.

“Customers are very educated.”

If you’re unsure of how to get started on your own ingredient education Mariles says going online is a great place to start.

“The internet is an amazing tool for this, but you definitely need to watch what you read,” she says. “There is a lot of good information but there is also a lot of fluff. I like to take a look at what is banned in the (European Union). They are usually a little bit ahead of us in terms of ingredient testing, so knowing what they are watching out for is a great way to stay on top of it.”

And be aware that, as the industry continues to change with awareness, so too will the list of “bad” ingredients.

“There will always be a new ‘dangerous ingredient’,” Mariles says. “Before getting too worried, I like to research and see what is actually going on to assess the risk.

“There are always going to be products that aren’t natural and that’s fine. Not all preservatives are bad necessarily. But when there are serious carcinogens in products that’s when these companies need to ask themselves: ‘Who is benefiting, and why?’ If you wouldn’t use a product on your own child, why would you market it to the masses? With the knowledge we have now there really are no excuses for formulating things with cleaner ingredients in mind.”

According to Mariles, one of the most common questions she faces in regard to her product lineup — ingredient inquiries aside — is how consumers can make the shift from traditional beauty products to a more “clean-beauty” routine.

“People want to make the right choices but they don’t know where to start, and they certainly don’t want to spend a fortune changing over,” she says. “It can be an overwhelming process at the beginning, but slowly adding good clean options is easy now. There are tons of options in everyone’s budget.”

To get started on the greening process of your own skin-care routine, she recommends starting with the few products that you use everyday — your personal skin-care MVPs (most valuable products of course) — rather than the more novelty creams, oils and other assorted tinctures. 

“Get some good clean replacements and go from there,” Mariles says. 

The Detox Mask from Midnight Paloma.

Midnight Paloma

Expanding one’s knowledge of the green-beauty movement, as well as further understanding the list of potentially harmful chemical ingredients lurking in self-care products, is important for more than just one’s piece of mind, though. According to Thomas, an increased level of awareness can also help safeguard against buying “greenwashed” products — or beauty and skin-care products that are purported to be “clean” but have buried chemical ingredients or production processes.

“It’s important for customers to do their own research and look critically into the ingredients that brands are using in their products,” Thomas says. ” ‘Natural’ to one brand may mean something completely different to another. In fact, there is no one definition of natural.”

The Caudalie Limited Edition Beauty Elixir.


At Caudalie, which promotes the use and benefit of products featuring antioxidant-rich grape seed sourced from their family’s vineyard in Bordeaux, France, Thomas says there’s an emphasis on avoiding ingredients that have been linked to health-care concerns.

“As a brand, we frown upon including ingredients that are endocrine disrupters, that can be irritating or that are bad for the environment and use the smallest proportion of preservatives as possible and are committed to avoiding certain controversial and artificial ingredients,” Thomas explains. That emphasis on a more sustainable product also extends to the production.

“It’s important to me that everything from our facilities — to the product, packaging and formulation — leave as little negative environmental impact as possible,” Thomas says. “I’m also especially proud that Caudalie is an active member of 1% for the Planet, which is an organization that works to protect the environment. We’re proud of the fact that at the end of 2018, we planted more than four million trees globally and have plans to plant more than eight million in eight countries by 2021.”

As the green movement continues to gain momentum, shoppers can expect to discover more resources for information, increased transparency and even more “clean” beauty brands on offer — and, as it has been for the past five years, the push will come from consumer demand.

“The more educated people are, the more demand there will be for sustainable, healthy products,” Mariles says. “It’s like everything in our lives now, the more we know, the better we can change our lifestyles … Transparency is going to be more important than ever moving forward.”

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Natural asbestos in Abbotsford river could be a health concern

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A landslide in Washington state is causing elevated asbestos levels in an Abbotsford river that winds through some of B.C.’s best farmland.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the Sumas River is used to irrigate large parts of the Sumas Prairie, where crops range from food and flowers to forage for dairy cows.

There are fears the asbestos-laced sediment deposited on the river’s banks could be stirred up by the wind or human activity and become airborne. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.


“It’s an issue that keeps me awake at night,” said the mayor. “You can’t tell me that (the sediment) isn’t travelling. It could be drifting into the subdivisions on Sumas Mountain for all we know.”

The city plans to dredge the river in the coming year, something it does periodically to prevent flooding. The sediment is classified as hazardous waste and must be safely handled and disposed. In 2010 and 2011, the city spent $177,000 on cleanup and buried the material beneath heavy clay to prevent it from blowing away.

But the river also leaves sediment behind every time the water rises and falls.

After flooding in January 2009, American scientists found high levels of asbestos in soil along the Sumas River in the United States. Sampling done by the City of Abbotsford in 2009, and again in 2010, “confirmed contamination concerns,” according to an information bulletin released by the city the following year.

“These concerns go back three mayors,” said Braun, who wants the provincial and federal governments to find a solution.

But the source of the problem, like the source of the river, lies across the United States border.

In 1970s, a slow-moving landslide on Sumas Mountain in north Whatcom County began clogging Swift Creek with about 6,000 dump-truck loads, or 60,000 to 130,000 cubic yards, of sediment each year. After a particularly bad storm in December 2016, a Bellingham Herald story likened the flow to “a milkshake” that was “creamy-green in color.”

The sediment contains naturally-occurring asbestos, as well as heavy metals. Swift Creek flows into the Sumas River, which then follows a sinuous course for 24.8 river kilometres before crossing into Canada near Whatcom Road in Abbotsford.

From there, the river loops through the Sumas Prairie, where high-tech pumps move the water into a network of irrigation ditches used by farmers to water their fields, before crossing Highway 1. There are at least two popular dog-walking parks along the river, which is also used by kayakers and the Fraser Valley Water Ski Club in warmer months. It eventually flows through the Sumas First Nation before draining into the Fraser River.


Last year, after several attempts to address the problem, Whatcom County received funding from the state legislature to develop a plan to trap the sediment at the source, said Roland Middleton, a manager with the Whatcom County public works department. The project is expected to take six or seven years to complete.

“There’s actually not much asbestos in the landslide itself, but it concentrates in the water,” he explained. “The heavy materials settle, but the asbestos tends to float along.”

When asked if the sediment poses a significant health hazard, Middleton said a study conducted by the Washington state health department did not find an increased incidence of cancer among people living near Swift Creek. It did, however, determine there were unsafe asbestos levels in the air when the material was disturbed.

“We’ve tried to educate people who live along the flood plain so they’re not working in it, or breathing it in,” said Middleton. “Since people don’t do that, we haven’t seen a problem.”

In the past, the county has sent out flyers telling people to keep sediment wet or bury it, and to “not let your kids play out in the dust.”


At McDonald Park Friday, dogwalkers approached by Postmedia were surprised to hear the river contains asbestos and asked if they should prevent their dogs from swimming in it or rolling in the sandy areas along the shore.

Nearby resident Dorothy Balzer said she was aware the river contained asbestos and recalled when the city changed its dredging practices. From her living room, she can watch otters playing in the water and water-skiers practicing their barefoot skiing.

Abbotsford farmer Roy Schurmann said he’d heard the river sediment could contain asbestos, but he’s never thought much about it.

“I don’t really know the levels and what level would be harmful,” he said. “I’m a farmer, and I guess we don’t tend to worry about things like that.”

Before the city began disposing of the sediment as hazardous waste, Schurmann recalled spreading some on a low spot in his field. He also irrigates from the river.

Braun said Abbotsford has been asking the Ministry of Environment for assistance on the issue for almost 10 years, but has been told there is “insufficient” evidence of health risks.


The mayor said he was aware of the U.S. study that showed no rise in cancer rates, but he worried about the 20-to-50-year average latency period for asbestos-related cancer.

“Are we going to see farmers in that area developing cancer in the future?” he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Labour identified the naturally-occurring asbestos in the Sumas River as an issue in need of study in a recent report on asbestos.

The draft report noted “there are gaps in provincial and federal approaches to (naturally occurring asbestos) in the Sumas River, namely in identifying whether local workers and residents in the City of Abbotsford and Sumas First Nation are exposed. Activity-based sampling would provide valuable information to understand the potential inhalation exposure to (naturally-occurring asbestos) released from soil into the air through common activities.”

When asked if the provincial government had a plan to assess the health risks, the Ministry of Environment responded with a statement saying the province anticipates engaging with “U.S. state and federal agencies, Canadian federal government and City of Abbotsford to develop a path forward.”

Postmedia also asked if people who lived near the river had been made aware of the possible risk associated with disturbing sediment. In response, the ministry provided links to the City of Abbotsford information bulletin posted online in 2011, as well as an Abbotsford News article from the same year.

The Ministry of Environment also provided a copy of a 2010 report done during dredging of the river, which showed that air samples at that time were well within safe limits. However, the report noted some of the samples were taken on rainy days when moisture might prevent dust from becoming airborne. There was also no wind on several of the testing days.

Meanwhile, testing of the sediment itself showed unsafe levels of asbestos.

UBC land and food systems professor Hans Schreier said the health risks associated with the sediment are a “grey area.”

Scientists have shown the fibres change when they are submerged in water, but it is not clear if they remain carcinogenic. It’s also unclear how much exposure is hazardous.

“The United States Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to do an epidemiological study, but we don’t have the answers yet,” he said.

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Natural anthrax kills 13 livestock in B.C.: Agriculture Ministry

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A microscopic view of stained anthrax bacteria in an undated photo

Getty Images / Getty Images

FORT ST. JOHN — Thirteen bison on a farm in northeastern British Columbia died of naturally acquired anthrax, a bacteria that the Agriculture Ministry says can remain dormant in certain soil conditions for many years.

The animals are thought to have contracted the disease from exposure to dormant anthrax spores in the soil of a feeding site on a farm near Fort St. John, the ministry said in a statement.

“This is the first documented case of anthrax in livestock in B.C.,” said Jane Pritchard, the province’s chief veterinary officer.

“It was quite shocking when we actually got the first test that suggested that it was anthrax. We repeated that twice more because it’s that unusual. We basically did every test we possibly could do to try and rule it out until we had access to the molecular test.”

The animals began dying last week, samples were sent to the lab on Friday and the diagnosis was made Monday, she said.

The disease has been reported in the Peace River region of Alberta, and that same soil goes right across the border into B.C., Pritchard added.

“The spore of the bacteria of this disease has a preference for certain soil conditions and those are the conditions that were present in British Columbia in this area.”

A disturbance in the soil or unusual weather conditions could have brought the spores up to the surface, causing the animals to be exposed to them, she said.

She said the bison corpses were placed on a brush pile and burned.

The ministry statement said the site is no longer being used and the farm has reported no other losses in its remaining herd of 150 animals.

A vaccine for anthrax for livestock is available and the ministry said exposed animals can be successfully treated if diagnosed early.

It said anthrax can affect humans, although it’s very rare and there is no indication that anyone in contact with these animals has been infected.

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