"Better living through chemistry!"
We had this drummed into our little Boomer heads from childhood through our young adulthood. And by golly, we believed it! Chemicals in an ever expanding number of household & beauty products were there to make us safer and the products better!
Here's the top 10 offenders found in products you regularly use. Thanks to Margie Kelly, Communications Manager at Healthy Child Healthy World.
1. Vinyl (PVC) in plastics:
Vinyl is the worst plastic for the environment, a fact that has been part of public awareness for a few years, now. Banned in over 14 countries and the European Union, PVC, also known as vinyl, is found in floors, wall coverings, plastic bottles, and toys. Vinyl leaches phthalates (linked to hormone disruption) and lead (a potent neurotoxicant) — contaminating air, dust, and eventually you. Go PVC-free by reading packages and avoiding the #3 in the chasing arrows symbol (usually found on the bottom of a product).
2. Fragrance in products:
Chemical fragrances found in everyday products like air fresheners, dryer sheets, and perfumes can trigger asthma. Some of the chemicals mimic estrogen, a process that may increase the risk of breast cancer. For example, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is absorbed through the skin and can accumulate in human fat tissue. Phthalates are suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptors that are increasingly being linked to reproductive disorders (of great concern for our children/ grandchildren). Instead, choose fragrance-free products or use those scented with natural fragrances like essential oils.
3. Canned food:
Food cans are lined with bisphenol-A (BPA). Most experts believe this is our main source of exposure to BPA, which has been linked to early puberty, cancer, obesity, heart disease, depression in young girls and much more. Many food brands have gone BPA free, including Campbell’s Soup. But beware: some companies have switched to BPS, BPA’s chemical cousin, which has been linked many of the same health effects. To be safe, opt for fresh, frozen, dried or jarred foods.
4. Chemical cleaners:
Products for cleaning are main culprits, and you must admit it makes no sense to wipe toxic chemicals all over your oven, floors, counters, and toilets to get them “clean.” Corrosive or caustic cleaners, such as the lye and acids found in drain cleaners, oven cleaners and acid-based toilet bowl cleaners are the most dangerous cleaning products because they burn skin, eyes and internal tissue easily. It’s simple and effective to use non-toxic cleaners or to make your own. There's a reason they carry a "poison" warning on the label...it's actually poison...
These are extremely toxic - they’re made to be. That’s how they kill things. But, solving your pest problem may leave you with another problem – residual poisons that linger on surfaces, contaminate air, and get tracked onto carpet from the bottom of shoes. There are so many non-toxic ways to eliminate pests and weeds. You can get on the offense without chemicals; I recently switched to a fully organic lawn pesticide service which works just as well. I also use non-chemical indoor products rather than Raid. Here's just one of many options, this one on Amazon...
6. Bottled water:
Americans buy half a billion bottles of water every week, thinking they’re avoiding any contaminants that may be present in their tap water. For the most part, they’re wrong. Bottled water can be just as, or even more, contaminated than tap water. In fact, some bottled water IS tap water – just packaged (in plastic that can leach chemicals into the water) and over-priced. Also, from manufacture to disposal, bottled water creates an enormous amount of pollution, making the water source less drinkable. Do yourself and the world a favor and invest in a reusable stainless steel water bottle and a water filter.
7. Lead in lipstick:
Yep...lead, a known neurotoxin that has no safe level of exposure, is found in women’s lipsticks. A study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration discovered lead in 400 lipsticks tested, at levels two times higher than found in a previous FDA study. And many are painfully tested on animals. There is no safe level of lead exposure. Pregnant women and children are at special risk, as lead can interfere with normal brain development. To find a safe lipstick, as well as other personal care products like shampoo and lotion, check out the Skin Deep Database. Use this link for cosmetics (and all other items) not tested on animals.
8. Nonstick cookware:
Studies show that perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which make products stain-and stick resistant, are linked to cancer and low birth weights. They are incredibly persistent and can now be found all over the globe, including in the bodies of polar bears. Not only are PFCs found in cookware, but microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes, some dental flosses, furniture and clothing. To steer clear of PFCs, avoid products made with Teflon or list ingredients beginning with “fluoro” or “perfluoro.”
This antibacterial agent is found in sanitizers & soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, deodorants, and even clothing. Studies have found triclosan may harm the human immune system, which makes people more likely to develop allergies, and reduces muscle strength in humans and animals. The FDA warns consumers to read labels for triclosan and recommends using plain soap to clean up. Instead of using antibacterial hand sanitizers made with triclosan, choose an alternative made with at least 60 percent alcohol.
10. Oil-based paints and finishes:
There are 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens potentially present in oil-based paint, according to a John Hopkins University study. Still interested in coating your walls and furniture with this gunk? Instead, use water-based options – ideally those that are low- or no-VOC. You could also explore natural finishes like milk paint and vegetable or wax-based wood finishes.
You have been officially alerted....