First there was BPA...and now it's ski wax

11:12 a.m. on March 6, 2010 (EST)
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Seems that one of the ingredients of ski wax gets into the body fairly readily, without being ingested. (See here for ScienceNow brief.) Perfluorinated octanoic acid (PFOA) is being found in very high levels in those who wax skis much. The substance has been linked, apparently, to "diminished fertility". Interesting side note, the importance of which I do not know: these PFOAs are also found in some non-stick cooking surfaces.

9:19 a.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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Interesting, you just can't have any fun anymore huh?

I once heard a doctor on TV say something to the effect of, if it wasn't around a hundred years ago, it might not be good for you.

I would say that thought cuts both ways, but something to think about.

Thanks for the link Perry.

1:20 a.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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Most skiers who wax their own skis have known for years to wear nitrile gloves and avoid inhaling the fumes when ironing on ski wax.

(Good thing I had my two daughters before I began XC skiing in the '70s :)


11:35 a.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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I've waxed skis my entire life and have never worn gloves, though I usually just crayon wax and cork it into the base.

2:41 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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Now if you do not use the "modern" fluorinated waxes, but instead make your own from paraffin, pine tar, and secret ingredients, you wouldn't have to worry about all those hormone disrupters. The major risk from those fancy superslick waxes is that it increases the probability of a "Sonny Bono" event, plus magnifies the impact effect when it does happen. Use the old-school concoctions, and you go slow (like I do) and reduce both the number and damage of the frequent impacts.

Perry, remember that everything is carcinogenic, and the primary cause of dying is being born. So enjoy what little life we are each granted.

5:57 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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Oh, agreed, Bill. I'm fond of pointing out that no one gets out of this alive. Just thought I'd mention the latest in the ever-increasing list of things that are gonna do us in. I'm irritated by things like this occasionally because there are too many folks who can't separate significant from insignificant dangers.
(Not necessarily through any faults of their own, let me add.) So we get the Picayune Chicken-Little reporting that too much dehydrated elbow grease will cause cancer or some such, and we're off and running with another "threat to the consumer".

7:23 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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Just another reason for no wax skis... The big worry of course is picking up someone else's wax out of a track, another good reason for off trail backcountry skiing. I never ever worried about being exposed to elbow grease...

10:56 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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I'm going to have to quit drinking out of old wax containers... bummer.

Add it to the list... list of things I go out into the hills to avoid.

11:24 a.m. on March 9, 2010 (EST)
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I am in my second year of medical school right now, and one of the reoccurring themes is that everything is the number one cause of something. If good hard scientific evidence comes out about a substance causing cancer or decreasing fertility, sure you should limit exposure. Why would you not? However, life expectancy isn't exactly coming down right now (unless of course you are in the near 30% of our population who are currently obese). Without seeing the research first hand, I'd be willing to bet that the workout you get will be more beneficial than the PFOA is harmful. So put on your nitrile gloves, open a window, wax your skis, then get out to enjoy life!

6:09 p.m. on March 10, 2010 (EST)
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In practice, PFOA is a substance that is used in a lot of products people use every day, including as a surfactant to apply non-stick coatings to millions of cooking pans. but, if you research it, you won't find millions of people coming down with cancer, infertility, or birth defects from this stuff to the point that they can blame the companies that use it. just like you won't see any lawsuit successfully making claims like that related to BPA. there just isn't enough solid, undisputed proof these substances are really toxic. of course, better safe than sorry, so why not try to avoid it.

my general thought about toxic/carcinogenic/mutagenic substances is that there may be a lot of substances out there that can cause adverse effects, but if you actually read most of the studies, the mice or rats are exposed to insanely high levels of the substance before they show any problems. unless you plan to eat ski wax or burn ski-wax candles in your house for the next 20 years, how likely do you think it is that it would make a difference?

How many of us used BPA-laden bottles for years, in ways that would cause the bottles to emit the highest levels of the substance (eg by pouring boiling water into lexan bottles to make tea/coffee/hot chocolate/soup on winter trips - like i did for about 20 years)? anyone suffering from a severe malady as a result? i think most of us are much more at risk from driving motor vehicles, consuming alcohol, being outside in bad weather, and climbing mountains than we are from toxic ski wax.

like a lot of people, i ditched my old lexan bottles for BPA-free bottles, and the new ones work just as well. come to find out that virtually any food you buy in a can these days is exposed to BPA, and the people who put food in cans have had a much tougher time figuring out how to eliminate BPA.

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