About a yr in the past, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made it official: Consumers can not purchase paint removers containing methylene chloride, a chemical linked to most cancers, cognitive impairment and different well being points. (In a controversial transfer, the company stopped in need of banning the chemical for business/industrial use).
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, in a assertion issued November 22, 2019, mentioned the “EPA’s motion retains paint and coating removers that include the chemical methylene chloride out of customers’ palms” in a “step that may present vital public well being protections for customers.”
Methylene chloride should be fairly dangerous for the EPA to ban it. After all, the company refuses to ban chlorpyrifos, a identified neurotoxin particularly dangerous to youngsters, and glyphosate, the chemical in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller deemed a “possible human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization.
So how is it that Walmart and Amazon will not promote you any paint remover containing methylene chloride. But each retailers will promote you decaffeinated espresso that checks constructive for methylene chloride?
Walmart and Amazon aren’t alone. According to a latest investigation by the Clean Label Project™, a nationwide nonprofit centered on well being and transparency in labeling, a shocking variety of common decaffeinated espresso manufacturers include methylene chloride.
That’s troubling information, on condition that lots of the individuals who select decaf over caffeinated espresso achieve this for well being causes. For occasion, medical doctors usually counsel pregnant ladies and folks affected by coronary heart illness follow decaf.
The examine contained some excellent news, although, for customers who purchase natural—not one of the licensed natural manufacturers examined by Clean Label Project contained detectable ranges of methylene chloride.
“It was reassuring to search out that 100% of licensed natural decaffeinated coffees examined have been non-detect for methylene chloride, the energetic ingredient in paint stripper,” mentioned Jaclyn Bowwn, Clean Label Project government director. “Since the first customers of decaffeinated espresso are delicate populations like pregnant ladies and folks affected by coronary heart illness, do your analysis, demand solutions from manufacturers, and attain for natural in terms of selecting decaffeinated espresso.”
What is methylene chloride and the way does it find yourself in decaf espresso?
Methylene chloride, or dichloromethane, is a colorless, nonflammable and unstable liquid chlorinated hydrocarbon, a gaggle of chemical compounds composed of carbon, chlorine and hydrogen. It’s generally used as a solvent in paint removers, a solvent within the manufacture of prescription drugs and as a degreasing and blowing agent for industrial use.
You’ll discover methylene chloride in merchandise like paint strippers, adhesives and automotive cleansing merchandise.
You’ll additionally discover it in some decaf espresso manufacturers, those that also use the chemical of their decaffeination course of.
As the Clean Label Project report explains, all espresso beans include caffeine. To create decaf espresso, the inexperienced or roasted beans are moistened, to make the caffeine soluble in order that it may be drawn out. The espresso is decaffeinated at average temperatures, usually starting from 70 to 100 levels Celsius (160 to 210 levels Fahrenheit).
There are two main kinds of decaffeination processes: non-solvent and solvent-based. The non-solvent kind makes use of water, and depends on time and temperature to attract out the caffeine. The solvent-based course of makes use of both methylene chloride or ethyl acetate.
According to Consumer Reports, German espresso service provider Ludwig Roselius found decaf by chance within the 1900s, after a cargo of espresso beans was soaked in seawater throughout transit, naturally extracting among the caffeine. Just a few years later, Roselius patented the primary commercially profitable technique of decaffeinating espresso. But as a substitute of simply salt water, his technique additionally used a stronger chemical solvent referred to as benzene, which has been linked to most cancers, blood problems, and fetal growth points in pregnant ladies.
Who drinks decaf and why shouldn’t they keep away from manufacturers with methylene chloride?
After benzene was decided to be too poisonous, decaf coffeemakers turned to methylene chloride. But is it any safer? Especially contemplating who usually drinks decaf espresso?
Americans love their espresso—about 83 p.c of us drink it, together with the 64 p.c who drink it on a regular basis.
The majority of us drink espresso as a result of it accommodates caffeine. But a proportion of individuals—together with coronary heart sufferers and pregnant ladies—drink decaf as a result of they imagine it’s more healthy for them.
The Clean Label Project cites a examine by the American College of Cardiology that implies some coronary heart sufferers ought to both restrict their consumption, or abstain fully from ingesting something with caffeine.
The report additionally cites analysis by the American Pregnancy Association suggesting that pregnant ladies ought to forego caffeine for 2 causes:
First, since caffeine is a stimulant, it will increase blood stress and coronary heart fee, each of which aren’t really helpful throughout being pregnant. Second, caffeine crosses the placenta to the newborn. Although the mom might be able to deal with the quantities of caffeine, a child’s metabolism continues to be maturing and should not be capable of absolutely metabolize the caffeine. Overall, because of conflicting conclusions from quite a few research, the March of Dimes states that till extra conclusive research are executed, pregnant ladies ought to restrict caffeine consumption.
But is it sensible, particularly for coronary heart sufferers and pregnant ladies, to exchange caffeinated espresso with decaf—if the decaf model you’re ingesting accommodates a chemical linked to most cancers, cognitive impairment and asphyxiation, and can be related to liver, kidney and reproductive toxicity?
According to Clean Label Project, in 1985, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that methylene chloride is carcinogenic to animals when inhaled, and could also be carcinogenic to people. The company banned the chemical from cosmetics, however allowed it in decaf espresso as a result of the quantities have been “extraordinarily low.”
The FDA hasn’t re-evaluated the degrees of methylene chloride in decaffeinated espresso in 35 years. Some of the merchandise examined by the Clean Label Project exceeded the FDA’s 35-year-old knowledge.
It’s noteworthy that Japan and Korea have banned methylene chloride in decaf espresso. Canada requires necessary labeling.
What did the Clean Label Project investigation discover?
The Clean Label Project chosen and bought off the shop shelf or on-line 23 of the top-selling decaffeinated espresso merchandise in line with the Amazon.com best-seller checklist. Each of the merchandise have been despatched to an unbiased lab and examined for contaminants.
The outcomes confirmed that 15 merchandise had undetectable ranges of methylene chloride (lower than 50 elements per billion); four merchandise have detectable ranges of methylene chloride at a fee of 50-89 elements per billion; and 6 had detectable ranges of methylene chloride above 90 elements per billion.
The 15 merchandise that examined for undetectable ranges are:
Allegro Coffee Decaffeinated Organic French Roast
Archer Farms Decaffeinated House Blend
Caribou Coffee Decaffeinated Caribou Blend
Community Coffee Decaffeinated Café Special
DAZBOG Coffee Decaffeinated French Roast (12 oz)
Dunkin’ Donuts Decaffeinated Medium Roast
Folgers Decaffeinated Classic
Illy Decaffeinated Illy Blend
Kicking Horse Coffee Decaffeinated Dark
Nescafe Decaffeinated House Blend
Peet’s Coffee Decaffeinated
Major Dickason’s Blend
Starbucks Decaffeinated House Blend
Starbucks Decaffeinated Cafe Verona
The Organic Coffee Co. Decaffeinated Organic Gorilla
Tim Hortons Decaffeinated Medium Roast
The four merchandise that examined for detectable ranges of methylene chloride at a fee of 50-89 elements per billion have been:
Kirkland Signature Decaffeinated Dark Roast
Maxwell House Decaffeinated The Original Roast
Peet’s Coffee Decaffeinated House Blend
Seattle’s Best Decaffeinated Portside Blend
The 6 decaffeinated espresso merchandise had detectable ranges of methylene chloride above 90 elements per billion have been:
AmazonContemporary Decaffeinated Colombia
Café Bustelo Decaffeinated Café Molido
Gevalia Kaffe Decaffeinated House Blend
Great Value Decaffeinated Classic Roast
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Decaffeinated Breakfast Blend
Kroger Decaffeinated Classic
Bottom line for customers
Based on the Clean Label Project examine, customers who need to keep away from methylene chloride of their espresso ought to search for licensed natural manufacturers. The Fair World Project (a challenge of Organic Consumers Association) lists natural and honest commerce manufacturers right here.
In addition to in search of out the licensed natural label, customers can even search for claims on product packaging comparable to solvent-free, chemical-free or Swiss-water. These decaffeination processes don’t use harsh chemical compounds like methylene chloride.
You can even stress manufacturers that don’t disclose their decaffeination course of, or do disclose that they use methylene chloride, and name, e-mail, or message them on social media and to demand to know extra about their decaffeination course of and/or ask them to cease utilizing methylene chloride.
Katherine Paul is affiliate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To sustain with OCA information and alerts, join our publication.