Many fast foods contain industrial chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems. Smartphones and watches can interfere with pacemakers and other implanted medical devices. A rare bacterial infection that killed two people has been linked to a room spray sold at Walmart.


Cheeseburger, with a side of phthalates.

Many U.S. fast foods contain industrial chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems, according to a new study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

Researchers at the George Washington University purchased 64 fast food items from different restaurants and asked for three pairs of unused food handling gloves. The team tested food items and the gloves for 11 kinds of phthalates and other plasticizers, finding that:

  • 81 percent of the food samples contained a phthalate called DnBP, and 70 percent contained DEHP. Both have been linked to fertility and reproductive problems as well as increased risk for learning, attention and behavioral disorders in childhood.
  • 86 percent of the foods contained the replacement plasticizer DEHT, whose impact on human health is still unknown.
  • Foods containing meats, such as cheeseburgers and chicken burritos, had higher levels of the chemicals studied. They also had the highest levels of DEHT. The researchers noted that food handling gloves collected from the same restaurants also contained this chemical.

Phthalates and replacement plasticizers are chemicals used to make plastics soft and can migrate out of plastics into the food, which is ingested. Some sources of plastics include food handling gloves, industrial tubing, food conveyor belts and the outer packaging used to wrap fast food meals available in restaurants.

Source: “Potentially harmful industrial chemicals detected in US fast foods,” George Washington University, Oct. 27, 2021; “Phthalate and Novel Plasticizer Concentrations in Food Items from U.S. Fast Food Chains: A Preliminary Analysis,” Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology


Smartphones and pacemakers don’t mix.

Smartphones and watches can interfere with implanted medical devices, according to a recent study published in Heart Rhythm.

Researchers affiliated with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) at the FDA warn that patients should keep any consumer electronic devices that may create magnetic interference, including cellphones and smart watches, at least six inches away from implanted medical devices. Implantable pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators include a “magnet mode” designed to be used when a patient is undergoing a procedure where electromagnetic interference is possible or when suspension of the device is necessary for medical treatment. However, this feature can also be triggered accidentally from strong magnetic fields greater than 10G, which can change how the device works and could seriously harm the patient, the researchers say.

The investigators tested the magnetic field output of all iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6 models at varying distances from the devices. They found that all the devices have static magnetic fields significantly greater than 10G in close proximity. However, when a separation distance of six inches or more is maintained, the phones and watches will not trigger magnet mode.

Source:New cell phone and smart watch models can interfere with pacemakers and defibrillators,” Elsevier, Aug. 26, 2021; “Static magnetic field measurements of smart phones and watches and applicability to triggering magnet modes in implantable pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators,” Heart Rhythm, Aug. 25, 2021


Fatal infections tied to room spray from Walmart.

A rare bacterial infection that killed two people has been linked to an aromatherapy spray sold at Walmart, according to the CDC.

A total of four people in four states were infected earlier this year by the rare tropical disease melioidosis. A CDC investigation discovered they were exposed to the bacteria by the Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones.

The $4 room spray was sold at about 55 Walmart stores and online earlier this year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has issued a recall for the approximately 3,900 bottles sold this year.

Source:Mysterious fatal infections tied to room spray sold at Walmart,” Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2021