27 Mar Toxic Chemicals & What you Need to Know
There are hundreds of thousands of chemicals used in our foods, in our cleaning products, in our cosmetics, food packaging etc. The government would like us to think that these are all perfectly safe but no-one has tested the ‘cocktail’ effect. Each chemical is tested in isolation and if found to be acceptable is then approved for use.
Our bodies do not recognise these ‘new’ products that enter our system and are unable to detoxify them. In many cases our bodies try to detoxify them as best they can but end up making them in to more volatile toxins. Your body can not eliminate them, so they end up being stored in your fat cells, joints, brain and other organs causing many common illnesses and life threatening disease. Some of these toxins cause cell mutilation and are therefore carcinogenic!
There are a number of known hazardous chemicals in the products you put on your hair and skin. Below are some of the most dangerous and ones you want to avoid.
- Paraphenylenediamine (PPD), also referred to as p-phenylenediamine is found in hair dye. It is not approved for the skin but because hair dye is intended for the hair it passes the test for use. This product causes skin problems such as eczema, dermatitis and general skin inflammation. It is banned in Germany, France and Sweden due to links with more serious health effects. A safer alternative is to use natural dyes, such as vegetable dyes. Ask your hairdresser for further information.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is used as a foaming agent in many products, such as bubble bath, toothpaste, shampoos and anything else that foams. It damages the outer layer of the skin membrane and can penetrate the skin to a depth of 6mm. It can therefore get in to your blood supply and travel where ever it pleases in your body. It causes skin irritation, mouth ulcers, urinary tract infections, thrush, piles and that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.
- Formaldehyde is used in nail polishes, soaps and other cosmetics as a preservative. It is a carcinogen, meaning cancer forming. It is also a common eye and skin irritant.
- Talcum Powder is used in many cosmetics such as eye shadows, baby powders, feminine hygiene products and is used for its ability to stick to the skin. A study in 1993 found that rats exposed to talc developed a range of inflammatory lung disorders, cancer of the lung and adrenal cancers. A further 8 studies have identified a 60% increase in the risk of developing ovarian cancer in woman using talc in the genital region.
- Parabens are used widely in many cosmetic and deodorant products. It’s used as a preservative. They demonstrate an oestrogenic ability (hormonal effect) by increasing oestrogen levels in the body. Excess oestrogen is the cause of many reproductive and breast cancers in both men and woman.
- Aluminium is used in anti-perspirants. Aluminium has the ability of binding to oestrogen therefore causing hormone problems. It is a heavy toxic metal and the body finds it very hard to get rid of. A favourite place for aluminium to be dumped is the brain. Aluminium is linked with Alzheimer’s.
Right Guard Anti-Perspirant
- Isobutane/propane – strong enough to remove barnacles from boats, penetrates the skin and can cause brain, kidney and liver abnormalities. Highly toxic!
- Cyclomethicone – Derived from silicone, carcinogenic affect, banned in many countries
- Aluminum – as discussed above
- Parfum – added perfume for smell, source unknown
- Isopropyl Myristate – comes from palm oil
- Disteardimonium Hectorite – comes from clay, toxic properties unknown
- Sodium Starch Ocentenylsuccinate – from starch, used as an emulsifier, safe to use
- Mannitol Limonene – natural source from tea tree and corn
- Benzyl Benzoate – used to treat scabies and skin mites, known skin irritant
- Linalool – essential oil
Jason Organic, Natural Deodorant
- Water, lavender, sage, corn starch, tea tree oil, coriander oil, aloe, arnica, white willow bark, grapefruit seed extract, zinc, potassium, alcohol
- Calcium starch octenyl succinate – derived from starch, safe to use
- Glycerin – safe to use
- Octyl palmitate – from palm oil
- Polysorbate 60 – currently there is a debate about the safety of this emulsifier
- Allantonin – from garlic or herbs
- Sodium Benzoate – naturally occurring salt
Similar to cosmetics, cleaning products have a large number of toxic chemicals in them and are not tested to the same levels as products applied to our skin. They are therefore even more dangerous.
Some examples are below:-
- Solvents – used in de-greasing agents, paints, general purpose cleaning products, nail varnish remover and also in food processing. They affect the central nervous system causing disorientation, slow reaction, confusion, memory problems, headaches to name a few.
- Detergents – used in washing up liquid, soap powders etc, known to cause problems in the intestines. Always rinse washing up liquid from cleaned crockery.
- Ethanol, ethyl acetate, benzaldehyde and acetone – used in air fresheners, they are responsible for causing respiratory problems especially in children as the particles are directly inhaled in to the lungs.
- Aerosols – chemicals used in aerosols such as xylene, ketones and aldehydes, have been associated with so-called “sick building syndrome”, studies have shown these chemicals can cause headaches, diarrhoea, respiratory problems and chronic fatigue type diseases.
If you are working on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then it makes sense to clean your home using natural cleaning products. Many common commercial cleaning products include harsh chemicals which can cause problems for some people and are often bad for the environment. Below are some of the greener and healthier natural alternatives can be used to clean your home. As an added bonus, ingredients like white vinegar, sodium bicarbonate, and lemon juice are often cheaper than commercial cleaning products, so you get to save money too!
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
Sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda, bicarb, and bicarb. soda) has a variety of uses for the green cleaner:
- It is abrasive and acts as a mild disinfectant, so it can be used to clean surfaces like kitchen worktops, bathroom tiles, sinks and baths, without scratching. Sprinkle some sodium bicarbonate on to a damp cloth and scrub the surface gently. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.
- For more stubborn cleaning tasks like cleaning the oven, make a paste by mixing sodium bicarbonate with a little water, then use a scourer to remove burnt on food, and rinse with water afterwards. Cleaning the oven regularly makes the job much easier, but if you’ve left it a while and it’s proving difficult to clean, you can also leave the paste on overnight.
- Bicarb deodorizes, so you can use it to remove bad smells. For example:
- To freshen carpets, sprinkle on sodium bicarbonate, leave for a while, and then vacuum off.
- Sprinkle some baking soda into the bottom of bins after cleaning to absorb bad smells. You can also put a small container of sodium bicarbonate in your fridge or freezer to absorb the smells created by pungent foodstuffs.
Ordinary white vinegar is another great cleaning standby.
- You can make a spray for general cleaning, using 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.
- Great for keeping windows, mirrors and tiles streak free. Vinegar is so good at this, that it’s often found in commercial glass cleaners.
- Vinegar removes lime scale. Descale your kettle by boiling up 1 cup of water mixed with 1 cup of vinegar.
Note: Don’t use vinegar on marble, as it will damage the surface. Vinegar and sodium bicarbonate mixed together have great cleaning power. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Keep drains clear – put down some bicarb first, then pour in the vinegar – it will fizz as the chemicals react, leave for a while, then flush with hot water. For best results, use weekly. (A handful of salt followed by a bucket of hot water is another safe option for drain cleaning.)
- Clean the toilet bowl using a sprinkling of bicarb, followed by a splash of vinegar, and scour the bowl.
If you don’t have any vinegar, lemon juice is a good alternative. Like vinegar, lemon juice is a good deodoriser, cuts through grease and dissolves mineral deposits. (As with vinegar, don’t use lemon juice on marble.) Lemon juice is also a mild bleach. It’s great for adding to your wash, before hanging laundry to dry in the sunshine to remove stains and get those whites really white!
Besides smelling great, many essential oils inhibit the growth of bacteria. Some useful essential oils for cleaning include:
- Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus is great for removing grease and oil. Apply to a cotton bud to spot clean oil splatters near the cooker. You can also use it to remove the residue from stickers. (Test on a small hidden area first.)
- Tea tree – Tea tree has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, making it a great addition to home-made cleaners. Add a couple of drops to your bicarb paste or vinegar/water spray.
- Lemon – Lemon is antibacterial and antifungal. It’s a great addition to kitchen cleaners, as the smell won’t linger in the way that some of the heavier herb oils can.
You can also buy brands such as Ecover, Method etc which are all excellent alternatives to chemical ladened products.
Our food is subjected to a vast number of chemicals in order to increase growth, preserve for longer, enable transportation across continents and look fresh. This is obviously not good for us.
Below are some of the methods used and their outcome:-
- Pesticides – used for the defence against pests, many studies carried out linking pesticides with numerous illness and disease. Main cause for concern is the effect on the nervous reproductive system.
- Herbicides & Fungicides – used as weed killers, particularly known to affect the lungs and are carcinogenic.
- Fertilisers – added to enhance crop nutrition, not especially toxic but do cause water contamination and displace other vital nutrients.
- Food Additives – added to food to give colour, flavour, preservative, emulsifier etc. Individually tested and found to be safe! Many are known to trigger allergies, asthma, eczema and hyperactivity. Watch out specifically for sulphites, MSG and yellow dyes.
- PCB’s/Plasticizers – used in food packaging and are a major concern. Foods containing high levels of fat are particularly vulnerable. Plastic water bottles must be kept out of the heat and sun to stop the chemicals leaching in to the water.
- Microwaves – avoid using this form of cooking, microwaving disrupts the nutrients in foods making them less available, cooking often involves using plastic (see above), and radiation from microwaving is highly dangerous. Never let your children stand and look in to a microwave when it is on.
What Can You Do to Reduce Your Toxic Exposure?
- Buy organically grown and fed foods, eat fresh, whole food that is local and in season (where possible) or grow your own.
- Avoid cling film
- Avoid or limit the use of canned foods, never leave food in opened tins in the fridge
- Use a water filter
- Do not microwave your food
- Avoid aluminium cooking utensils, pans, foil etc
- Avoid mercury (amalgam) dental fillings
- Use natural cosmetics such as toothpaste, deodorants, shampoos, soaps etc
- Avoid anti-acids, coffee mate (these all contain aluminium)
- Avoid food additives, colourings, preservatives (where possible)
- Use alternative green/eco cleaning products
- Avoid garden chemicals
- Check your chemical exposure at work (are you by the photocopier all day?)
- Put net curtains up at windows facing busy roads
- Close car windows in heavy traffic
- Avoid the use of lead based paints, varnishes
Below is a list of good brands and their websites:-
Jason – available from Health Food Shops or online organic suppliers, they do organic natural cosmetics, sun creams, hair products, toothpaste and beauty products.
Green People – available from Health Food Shops or www.greenpeople.co.uk, they do skin care, cosmetics, toiletries, household products
Dr Hauschka – high quality skincare, body care and makeup, www.drhauschka.co.uk, available from SpaceNK, Large Department Stores
Lavera – skincare, body care and sun care, www.lavera.co.uk
Weleda – skincare, body care and sun care, www.weleda.co.uk
Ecover – household products, available from all supermarkets
Method – household products, available from most supermarkets
For all your organic and natural needs try:-
Health is more than just diet and exercise. For more help click here.