It’s almost impossible to avoid all the man made chemicals that we are exposed to.
They are present in most of our daily activities: our food, or cosmetics, furniture, cleaning products, electronics, cars, etc.
Most of us have around 150 synthetic chemicals in our bodies, which we pass on to our babies through the mother’s blood stream or lactancy.
These chemicals are responsible for reproductive problems, birth defects, hormonal distruption, nervous system anomalies and cancer.
Here’s is a list of 10 synthetic chemicals that you can avoid without changing your lifestyle:
1-Bisphenol A (BPA)
This chemical is used to make certain plastics soft and pliable and it has been linked to hormonal disruption, heart disease, type II diabetes and liver enzyme abnormalities.
It leeks from plastic containers and also gets released when microwaving food inside plastic containers.
To avoid them buy food preserved in glass bottles and containers (especially tomatos, other acidic vegetables and oils).
Mercury is found in almost every fish on earth, but the higher in the food chain the higher levels of mercury (it bioacumulates).
Mercury is emitted by coal burning power plants, oil refineries, medical waste disposal facilitties, and also from the combustion of diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil, and then released to the land and oceans.
Doctors recommend pregnant women not to eat fish because it can cause mental retardation in unborn babies.
Many studies suggest that our fish consumption should be limited because mercury can also cause dephiciencies in the motor system and kidney damage.
Tuna, swordfish and marlin have the highest mercury concetrations, and sardines, wild salmon and anchovies some of the lowest.
I already wrote about the health effects of pesticides in a previous post.
Organophosphate pesticides have immediate effects on the nervous system, motor function and attention span. Other pesticides (Carbaryl) are listed as human carcinogens, and linked to a higher incidence of infant brain cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Avoid them by buying organic fruits, vegetables, milk and meat.
4-Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)
A family of fluorine chemicals with unique properties to make materials stain and stick resistant.
They are found in Teflon pans, water resistant clothing, stain resistant textiles (for sofas, etc.), grease resistant packaging, and cosmetics.
Researchers are finding serious health concerns about PFCs, including increased risk of cancer.
In order to avoid them stay away from oily or greasy packaged food, avoid stain resistant treatments for fabrics, avoid cosmetics containing any “fluoro” or “perfluoro” ingredients (they are present in eye make up, dental products, moisturisers, etc) and avoid burning teflon or non stick cookware.
Phthalates are plasticizing and softening chemicals used in a wide array of consumer products, especially those ccontaining PVC (polyvinyl chloride).
They are present in PVC products such as vinyl flooring, vinyl shower curtains, and children’s toys. Also in many personal care products, such as perfumes, nail polish, and lotions, automobile interiors and medical equipment.
In several studies they have been found to cause reproductive problems and asthma.
There have been many companies, hospitals and government agencies that are switching to other alternative safer materials, and if possible you should limit the n of pvc’s in you home.
- Image from toxicnation.ca
6-Nonylphenol & Nonylphenol Ethoxylates
Nonylphenol compounds are effective and cheap solvents used in cleaning products.
There are many safer substitutes, so simply don’t accept any “nonylphenol” on the ingredient list of products in your house because they can severely affect your reproductive system.
- 7-Polybrominated Flame Retardants
They are used in mattresses, electronics, plastics and other materials to prevent them from catching fire and burning.
Even if some states (such as California,etc.) and Europe have banned them,studies in the U.S., Europe, and Asia have found them in fish, meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and infant formula.
Adverse health effects include problems in brain development and genital malformations.
Avoid polybrominates by buying clothing, bedding and furniture made from natural materials.
There is a whole range of glycol ethers, many of which are relatively safe. However, the dangerous ones can cause birth defects and lower quality and quantity of sperm.
Look out for methyl cellosolve, Ethylene Glycol Ethyl Ether, Ethylene Glycol Methyl Ether Acetate, and Ethylene Glycol Ethyl Ether Acetate.
They are commonly used in paints, inks, house cleaners, detergents, etc.
Aluminum is the world’s most common metal, and it’s present in many products around us.
It is used in cans and aluminum foil, as lightweight sheet metal in airplanes and other machinery, in electrical wiring and in personal care products such as deodorant and antiperspirant.
The problem with deodorants and antiperspirants is not only the aluminum, but how it works to reduce sweat and smelly odors.
Aluminum compounds or aluminum salts, such as aluminum oxide are key ingredients in almost every antiperspirant. They are powerful astringents that close pores, stopping sweat and odor from escaping the body.
Antiperspirants may leave the outside of the body smelling fresh and clean , but inside, the toxins that would have escaped the body in the sweat have nowhere to go.
What’s more, “antiperspirants are designed to be absorbed”; the aluminum and many other chemicals are taken into the body and may affect the endocrine and lymphatic systems, as well as being a potential risk factor in breast cancer.
Aluminum has not only been linked to breast cancer, but many studies have shown links between between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum.
Avoid buying deodorants with aluminum in it, check for the ingredient list!
10-Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a very harsh detergent found in almost all shampoos and a few toothpastes.
Studies suggest that “Shampoos with SLS could keep children’s eyes from developing properly”.
It can also cause cataracts in adults and delays the healing of wounds in the surface of the cornea.
It has a “low molecular weight and so is easily absorbed by the body, building up in the heart, liver and brain and can cause major problems in these areas.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate causes skin to flake and to separate and causes roughness on the skin.
After long term applications it actually corrodes the hair follicle and impairs the ability to grow hair.
“Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is routinely used in clinical studies deliberately to irritate the skin so that the effects of other substances can be tested.”
Check the ingredients in your shampoo right now, I assure you they have Sodium Lauryl Sullhpate in it!
We have to learn to check the ingredients in the products that we buy and know their properties.
We trust our governments and chemical regulations, but they still have a long way to go, so staying out of these dangerous chemicals is up to you!
The dirty dozen
Aluminum in deodorants
Health Report: SLS