Wednesday Wellness: The Everyday Toxic Products No One Thinks About

We are aware of what the word ‘toxic’ means but are really aware of its mere existence in our everyday lives? What about their repercussions? Can we stop and think about the products we are using in our lives? Commercial consumer goods that we blindly make use of just because they do the job. Sure those floor cleaners keep your tiles spick and span but what about the carcinogenic properties of the chemicals involved in making it? All these chemicals and toxins are released in the environment sneaking their way to the air we breathe into (affecting our olfactory system), our water and most of all they’re absorbed by our largest organ, our skin.

It is scary to think about it. In fact, we should all be scared. You may think, well I’ve been using all these products all my life and I’m fine. News flash, most of us don’t feel the effect until we’re down with a chronic disease years after constant exposure. As reported by WHO, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death in the world and that 95% of cancer cases are caused by diet and environmental toxicity. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising) over 300 chemicals are man-made and they have been found in the human body and we don’t even know it! These hazardous chemicals have contaminated our environment, our wildlife and now our human bodies.

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With that said, what are some of the hidden surprises (a.k.a. toxins) in our everyday products that we need to be wary of?

Perfume
As EWG reported, “A rose may be a rose. But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer.” What’s worse is that most of those perfumes you find in stores nowadays contain 14 or more harmful chemicals that are not even listed on the label. Hazardous chemicals that are endocrine disrupters, allergy irritants while also affecting your central nervous system.Where do those air molecules go when you dose yourself in huge doses of that perfume? Up to your nose, the olfactory system, to your brain and your nervous system. Why do you think that when you get a sudden strong whiff while walking pass the perfume store, you might get the occasional dizziness or light-headedness? Do flowers, plants or herbs make you do that? I don’t think so. If you think that your fragrances don’t matter much, think again.

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Beauty/Cosmetics
Similar to perfumes, beauty products like soaps, shampoos, cosmetic products, nail polish and deodorants alike contain strong amounts of Phthalates, also called plasticizers. They help to bind the compounds and increase the durability of products. These compounds can also be found in (drum rolls please) BPA. Yes, the very same BPA in plastic bottles. Some beauty products even contain Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin which are formaldehyde derivatives used to preserve corpses. Are we really slathering these carcinogenic chemicals onto our largest organ yet? Our skin? The scary thing is that the beauty industry in the US are not subject to the FDA authority and is shockingly unregulated unlike the stricter European Union that banned certain products. Even ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ may be misleading. Companies merely need to contain 70% organic ingredients to be deemed as ‘organic’ which leaves much room for toxins. The best thing we can do is to educate ourselves on reading labels and what those ingredients mean.  

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Home Cleaning Products
Yes, they do the job. They clean! But what else do they do? They are pollutants to your homes. From diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) to phosphoric acid and ammonia in your sudsing agents, they all contribute in releasing molecules that can penetrate through your skin while abusing your sense of smell. Sure they may add ‘fragrances’ to make them smell like the mountain breeze or a rose but haven’t I mentioned enough what these supposed ‘fragrances’ contain? The chemicals not only are common irritants but they also compromise your immune system, damaging your liver and kidneys. Not to mention they are once again, cancer-causing. Surprise, surprise. Most cleaning agents don’t label their ingredients but they do have warning labels. Hmmm.. If we have to use something in our homes that has hazardous warning labels, should we really use them? Check out EWG’s list of home cleaning hall of shame. Teaser, they contain some of your home favourites like Spic and Span and Febreeze! Shocking! Try a DIY all-natural alternative. Even baking soda, water and lemon juice mixture does the job well. Maybe add some Young Living essential oils to it.

Fabric Softeners
We all know just how comforting it is when your laundry comes out soft and smooth. All thanks to that precious fabric softener. It could have been part of my home cleaning products but this is such an important point that I have to talk about it separately. According to World Wire, the list of the harmful chemicals found in your favourite softeners are never-ending; benzyl acetate, ethanol, camphor, chloroform, linalool to name a few. All of which are harmful to your central nervous while being cancer-causing. These compounds mixed together are so pungent that they need an even stronger fragrant to be made to cover them. Isn’t that enough of a scare? So instead, baking soda yet again, is another miracle ingredient to help soften your fabrics. Natural fabrics that is. Try to keep synthetic fabrics out of the washer and dryer and if possible, avoid them altogether. Add Young Living Purification or Lemon (some of my favourite) if you want too!

Candles & Air Fresheners
Similar to perfumes and some cosmetic products, air fresheners contain Phthalates that increase your chances of experiencing endocrine, reproductive and developmental problems. Especially those with asthma issues. Scarily enough, some products that do not label Phthalates in their list, test positive for it! Eeek! What makes candles harmful? Some are known to contain Lead, Benzene, Toulene and Parrafin, which releases carcinogenic compounds when burned. So I guess the tip is don’t use air fresheners and make sure you know the ingredients in those candles. Make your air fresheners with some water, witch hazel and Young Living essential oils and you’re set.

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Insect Repellants
I know all too well just how important bug sprays and repellants can be. But never again will I touch those. According to Medline Plus, most bug repellants contain DEET (a registered pesticide, N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) as their active ingredient. It also contains, once again Toulene another yet again carcinogenic chemical. So when you spray yourself with repellants all over your body, whatever is on your skin will get absorbed into your bloodstream. There are other more natural alternatives in the market that are DEET and Toulene-free although you might need to apply them more often than your normal repellants. Another Young Living alternative is Lavender, Citronella, Purification to name a few.

Plastic bottles & BPAs
This is probably one of the most commonly known fact. Plastic bottles containing polycarbonat plastics made with bisphenol-A (BPA). Why is it harmful? BPA has a very similar structure to estrogen and is then an endocrine disruptor, which interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function and elimination of natural hormones. Our hormones play an important role on how we function as a human being, from our behaviours and sleeping patterns to  how well our kidneys function. From your baby’s sippy cup to your sports bottles, try a BPA-free alternative or glass ones.

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Baby Care Products 
It is quite an alarming thought that the very products we use for babies are actually not as safe as we thought they should be. Especially with the latest on the Johnson & Johnson debacle, I would think we would all be a little more wary and vigilant with what baby products we should be using. First and foremost are the cleaning products you use like fabric cleaners and shower gels. Once again, check those ingredients and educate yourselves on the brands that offer transparencies on their labels and those that do not. Don’t buy into fragrances and what they smell like and just because they are ‘organic’ or ‘all-natural’ does not mean they really truly are. Powders contain talc which is highly carcinogenic. Luckily there are many talc-free powder alternatives to choose from so fret not. Most baby wipes contain Propylene Glycol which is a penetration enhancer and again carcinogenic. Lotions contain benzoic acid and Parabens much like soaps and ‘antibacterial’ items most probably have Triclosan in them which is another endocrine disrupter and is actually an irritant. Baby oil is another misleading product as they contain countless minerals that are the byproduct of petroleum processing. They act as a wrap on the skin and inhibits their ability to breathe. Instead opt for coconut oil or sweet almond oil.

 

I’m sure there are way more products (like canned food and electronics) and harmful chemical compounds I’ve yet to mention, but that’s the thing. There are now way too many man-made hazardous toxins that have sneaked their way into our everyday home products. It’s understandable that we can’t be too obsessive with being ‘clean’ but being fully aware is a totally different story. Do we want our loved ones be consumed with these health damaging products in the comfort of our own home? Educating ourselves with labels and ingredients is our first step.

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