Thursday 13 September 2012

What chemicals are you using?

Our world has become one huge sludge pond of chemicals.  The majority of the public know about environmental pollutions that come from industrial waste and by-products, about the ravages of the petroleum industry on our land, air and water, and the contamination fears from nuclear waste, but most people do not think about the harmful chemicals they surround themselves with in their own homes.

...I'm not even going to get into the topic of what we are eating or feeding to our children!

Did you know that the average skin and hair care product contains multiple toxic chemicals?  Did you know that many of the very products that are grossly advertised as being "baby friendly", like baby wipes, baby shampoo, lotions and sunscreens contain a horrifying amount of chemicals that are known neurotoxins and carcinogenic?

Myth – If it’s for sale at a supermarket, drugstore, or department store cosmetics counter, it must be safe.
Fact – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to test products for safety. FDA does not review or approve the vast majority of products or ingredients before they go on the market. The agency conducts pre-market reviews only for certain color additives and active ingredients in cosmetics classified as over-the-counter drugs (FDA 2005, 2010).

Myth – The cosmetics industry effectively polices itself, making sure all ingredients meet a strict standard of safety.
Fact – In its more than 30-year history, the industry’s safety panel (the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, or CIR) has assessed fewer than 20 percent of cosmetics ingredients and found only 11 ingredients or chemical groups to be unsafe (FDA 2007, CIR 2009, Houlihan 2008). Its recommendations are not binding on companies (Houlihan 2008).Myth – The government prohibits dangerous chemicals in personal care products, and companies wouldn’t risk using them.
Fact – Cosmetics companies may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, without government review or approval (FDA 2005, FDA 2000).
  • More than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada or the European Union (EWG 2007b).
  • Nearly 100 products contain ingredients considered unsafe by the International Fragrance Association (EWG 2007c).
  • A wide range of nanomaterials whose safety is in question may be common in personal care products (EWG 2006).
  • 22% of all personal care products may be contaminated with the cancer-causing impurity 1,4-dioxane, including many children’s products (EWG 2007d, CDC 2009).
  • 60% of sunscreens contain the potential hormone disruptor oxybenzone that readily penetrates the skin and contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans (EWG 2010, Calafat et al 2008).
  • 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead (CSC 2007).

Did you know that almost every "cleanser" on the commercial market contains chemicals that are not only toxic, but also cause pollution in our water system and soil?  Did you know that

Environmental Working Group’s investigation of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies on the American market has found that many contain substances linked to serious health problems. EWG concludes that:
  • Fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in persons previously diagnosed with asthma.
  • Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane. Independent tests have detected the presence of 1,4-dioxane in numerous name-brand cleaning supplies. Other products contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
  • Children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects, according to a 2010 study by the New York State Department of Health.
  • Some cleaners can cause chemical burns and poisonings as well as less severe irritations and allergies. Severe physical reactions signal that consumers should take care anytime they use these products.
  • Despite these health concerns, cleaning product labels often do not give consumers enough information about their ingredients to allow people to make informed decisions on which ones are safer and which ones might harm their health.
Government agencies and independent research institutions have not adequately evaluated the safety of numerous substances found in cleaning products. Although government scientific and regulatory agencies have focused considerable attention on chemicals suspected of causing cancer, they have devoted far fewer resources to evaluating substances that may be toxic to the brain and nervous system, the hormone system and other organs. Investigating the full range of risks of cleaning products to public health and the environment should be an urgent priority. Yet the problem remains largely hidden from the view of the American consumer.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has spent years putting together two vitally important data bases of information that are an easy way to assess your chemical exposure in your personal life.  

So pull out your favourite air freshener, laundry soap, deodorant, shampoo, or sunscreen and take a very close look at what you're inhaling and what chemicals are coming into direct contact with your skin. Better yet, look up some of those unpronounceable chemicals on the internet...

...I guarantee you'll be shocked.  

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