Friday, August 03, 2012

Listen up! This is important!

My cousin-in-law posted this information on her blog and I was given permission to re-post it here. I feel it's important for us to know these things and then pass them on to others.

A couple of years ago, I started making a conscious effort to detoxify our cleaning and grooming routines. This was largely in response to a couple of blog posts on a blog I follow that described the infuriating carelessness about the ingredients in these products. Don’t be lulled into a sense of safety by the assurances of the FDA, y’all. They are on the side of big business, not the side of the consumer. Most of the time, they test a substance by exposing rats to high levels of it for a couple of weeks. If the rat doesn’t die or mutate freakishly, then it’s all cool. What they do not test is the effects of constant low doses of these substances over several years— the kind of exposure humans using the product actually get. Anytime you buy a product without thinking about the ingredients, you are in effect taking the word of the FDA and the manufacturer that those ingredients are safe.
It’s pretty obvious that infertility is a major problem for our generation. Just think about all the men and women you know who have struggled with it in some way. While infertility has obviously always been around, there’s been a lot of research done on how much more common it’s becoming. Even people who don’t technically have a problem have greatly reduced reproductive health compared to people a few generations back. What troubles me is how little you hear about the role of product use in this problem. Most conventional cleaning and beauty products contain known or suspected neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors (substances that either imitate hormones, block hormone receptors, or interfere with hormone production). This is serious stuff.
A major problem area is that sneaky little word ‘Fragrance’ on the ingredients list of most products. Did you know that companies are not required to disclose the ingredients that go into the ‘Fragrance’ of their products? They are considered a ‘trade secret’ and are only sketchily regulated. In practice, this means that anytime you see the word ‘Fragrance,’ what it stands for is a toxic cocktail of chemicals, many of which have not been sufficiently tested, many of which are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. The manufacturers do this because synthetic fragrances are way, way cheaper than natural ones. And even ‘Natural Fragrances’ are suspect— all that means is that the original source of the ingredient was natural, not the ingredient itself. And anyway, just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean we should rub it in our skin or spray it in our air every day. It doesn’t get more natural than poison ivy, after all.
A few easy ways to protect yourself:
  • Avoid Triclosan. It’s an antibacterial agent found in many soaps and toothpastes, and it’s a known endocrine disruptor. It’s pretty easy to find products that don’t have it. For instance, about half of Colgate’s toothpastes don’t have it. Just read the label.
  • Actually, avoid antibacterial products altogether. Antibacterial agents are not good for us, and the use of these products contributes to the rise of ‘super bacteria,’ which resist eradication much more effectively. Research has shown that good old soap and hot water is just as effective as antibacterial stuff anyway. It’s all a marketing ploy— the manufacturers want you to believe you aren’t safe unless you’re using their product.
  • Spend a dollar or two more on beauty products, dish soap, and bath soap and buy phthalate-free. Phthalates are also endocrine disruptors— even the FDA acknowledges this now, but they aren’t in a hurry to ban it. Phthalates are commonly hidden under the ‘Fragrance’ banner, so your product may contain it even if it’s not listed.
  • Don’t buy beauty products with parabens. They are very carcinogenic endocrine disruptors, linked strongly to breast cancer. They may be buried pretty deep in the ingredient list or have fancy prefixes, so look carefully.
  • Avoid Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate— this one’s a lot harder to avoid, but any reduction in exposure helps. It is a lathering agent used in virtually all shampoos and many soaps and toothpastes. It is a carcinogen, and it mimics the action of estrogen in the body— seriously harmful for both male and female bodies. It also strips the skin of natural oils, allowing other toxins to get in easier. Sodium Lauryl is more irritating, but Sodium Laureth cannot be processed by the liver, so it sticks around a lot longer.
  • Buy fragrance-free— detergent, dishwashing soap, bath soap, shampoo, anything you can. This is probably the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself. If you want fragrance, then buy natural products that actually list which essential oils are used for the fragrance.

1 comment:

Melanie Hodges said...

Thanks for reposting this. I have recently changed dish liquids, shampoo/conditioner, soap and toothpaste, but haven't quite gotten around to the laundry detergent yet, but I plan on it...very good info here!