Recognizing Harmful Chemicals and Avoiding them!
Did you know many chemicals used in our everyday products have warnings, retrictions and very limited research as to potential health effects on humans? We think if a product has been approved by the FDA and is on the shelves that is must be safe - and only now are we realizing that isn't the case and it's up to us to determine safer alternatives.
* Cosmetics * Baby Care Products * Shampoos * Soaps *Cleaning Items * Air Freshners *Toothpaste * Lotions
Our Article - first published on E-Zine:
Did you ever stop to think about what we put into out bodies when we put products ON our bodies?
More and more products are being discovered as having harmful chemicals in them which, over time, penetrates to the inside of our bodies. Studies now are finally being done to link many health conditions to these chemicals such as:
* Increase in Cancer
* Decrease in sexual re productivity
* Changes in hormonal activity
* Neurological Disorders
But “going natural” isn’t that easy. First, you have to find some good and truthful information on exactly what chemicals are bad and what potential side effects they have.
Then you need to determine what chemicals can be substituted when making products.
Consider these chemicals, be familiar with these chemicals and try to avoid – these chemicals:
* PARABENS (Methyl-Propyl-Ethyl-Butyl)
Common preservative used in cosmetics to length shelf life – Possible endocrine disruptor – potentially causing birth defects and cancer
Alternative: preserved with phenoxyethanol – found in nature and derived from essential sage oil
* CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN
Synthetic Sunscreen made to absorb UV rays instead of block the rays – potentially disrupt hormone balance
Alternative: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
* PETRO CHEMICALS
(Petrolatum, mineral oil, parrafin)
Used as emollient to smooth skin but are non-renewable crude oil by-products and have potentially dangerous impurities
Alternative: Use oils found in nature: Beeswax, Apricot kernel oil and coconut oil
* PROPYLENE GLYCOL
Humectant, absorbing watker from the air, it is a petroleum derived synthetic chemical and can potentially draw chemicals into bloodstream. It is a known skin and eye irritant; causing allergic reactions and acne
Alternative: Use Glycerin, and Natural Humectant – keep moisture in and other chemicals out
Used to blend oils & liquids – very common in fragrances. Known irritants and more studies being done to link Phthalates to possible carcinogenic properties
Alternative: Look for “Phthalate Free” on products, especially those with fragrance added or perfum added.
Adjusts PH levels, but reacts with other nitrates. Reactions can lead to nitrosamines which have been linked to potential carcinogens
Alternative: Use Sodium Hydroxide in small amounts to balance PH
Preservative- in many personal care products. Very strong skin irritant (eye, nose & throat) EPA has classified this as a “Probably Human Carcinogen”
Alternative: Use preservatives that do not release formaldehyde or irritants. Peppermint oil can be used for antibacterial
* 1, 4 DIOXANE
No purpose in products but is produced as a “by-product” of certain manufacturing procedures – it is a suspected carcinogen
Alternative: Find a company that vows to avoid any processing which may produce this by-product
Thickening agent and reduces feeling of “greasiness”. Known to be a strong irritant.
Alternative: Use Natural Gums “Guar Gum” or “Xanthan Gum”
Thickening agent and emulsion stabilizer – can contain hazardous “by-products”
Alternatives: Again, use Natural Gums “Guar Gum” or “Xanthan Gum”
Cosmetic Industry uses these as thickners but again, they can contain hazardous by-products.
Alternatives: as noted before – use Natural Gums (Guar or Xanthan)
* CHEMICAL PRESERVATIVES
Used to kill any imposing bacteria – can contain formaldehyde (see point 7) and some are known to be irritants
Alternatives: Use Natural preservatives such as Vitamin E and select essential oils
Protects against water evaporation but hazardous by-products can result from the manufacturing process
Alternatives: Natural Oils – Apricot Kernel oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and jojoba oils are just some of the alternatives
Preservatives and adds a bond within conditioners. Can produce hazardous by-products in manufacturing process and known to be skin irritants.
Alternatives: Use specific quats not hard on the skin and monitor manufacturing process to ensure no hazardous by-products are contained within
Absorbent, used in many cosmetic products to add softness as well. Closely related to asbestos, talc posses health risk when exposed to lungs and genital areas. Has been linked to both lung and ovarian cancer.
Alternative: Corn Starch – 100% Natural
* SODIUM LAURYL (LAURETH) SULFATE (SLS):
Common in most personal care products and soaps - sls is a natural derivative but is very irritating to skin and is not good for us. Used in high concentrations to literally scrape barnacles off of undersides of boats, sls strips oils off our hair(in shampoo) and our teeth (toothpaste) and creates nice sudsy bubbles (dishsoap, hand soap and bubble bath). Chances are store brands of regular personal care products will have SLS as an ingredient at least 95% of the time - unless you are buying a chemical free product!
Will be found as PEG50 or PEG100 or other number - this is a numbing agent and is commonly found in No Tears Baby Shampoo - eck! The reason is doesn't sting their eyes, you guessed it: their eyes are numbed to the pain! Sensitive teeth calls for a special toothpaste which works wonders but be aware - it too contains PEG ingredients and the effects of PEG ingredients on our health is still being evaluated.
It’s not easy to find products which are Natural, and even if they say Natural – you have to be careful. Especially since not all ingredients will tell you if there are “Phthalates” or “Petro Chemicals”.
Finding companies who are dedicated to production of “Natural” products is a good way to minimize your risk. Look for the NPA (Natural Products Association) Certification on products and do your research.
There are so many products out there full of chemicals we haven’t even begun to realize how harmful they are on us and the environment. The standards are quite flexible and very few studies are done to protect us, our children and our environment. Check out the Cosmetic Databas
e from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and search your products!
It is up to us – to protect ourselves. It is up to us, to educate our children, family and friends, so that they too can educate others. We need to make healthier choices and those choices must be educated and well informed choices. It’s not about why we should avoid these products – but HOW to avoid these products.
Consider these everyday items and try to find Natural Alternatives.
* Nail Polish
* Skin creams, lotions, bath products, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, scrubs
* Hairspray, perfume, candles, air freshners, deodorants
* Laundry detergents, fabric softners (which release a chemical compound that attaches itself to the fabric and will Never come off – suspected carcinogen)
Anti-bacterial soaps: Researchers are now finding that the active ingredient in antimicrobial soaps and personal care products causes nerve damage. Ingredient name: MIT (methylisothiazolinone)
Dryer Sheets: essentially "perfume sheets" - with synthetic chemicals, manufactured in a chemical plant, and many are highly carcinogenic. Clothing is covered in these chemicals, we expose our bodies to them and through sweat and open pores, allow the chemicals to enter our bodies.
Personal Care (Shampoo, lotions, soaps etc.): Contain a mix of various chemicals (see chart below) which irritate skin and have highly suspected but still limited research on dangerous health effects. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Methyl Parabens and Propylene Glycol are your most common ingredients - along with "Frangrance /Perfume".
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