Chemicals are everywhere, in our food, in the products we consume or wear. Do you know what chemicals can damage your health?
Chemicals are everywhere, in our food, in the products we consume or wear. Do you know what chemicals can damage your health?
Toxins are poisonous substances harmful to the body
Home toxins can be divided into three categories:
Airborne – Consist of small air borne particles such as lint, dust mites, human skin, and pet dander.
These toxins are more dangerous than they sound because their small size enables them to travel deep into the lungs.
Biological – Such as bacteria and viruses, attach themselves to airborne particles, increasing the likelihood of lung infections. Mold is also part of this category.
Chemicals – Come into our home in the products that we buy to improve the look, smell, and cleanliness of both ourselves and our home. There are over 80,000 Chemicals out there used to make cleaning and personal products. Many have never been tested for toxicity by themselves let alone in combination. Every year 1,800 are introduced in North America, with little to no toxicity test.
GermGuardian AC4825, 3-in-1 Air Cleaning System with True HEPA, UV-C and Odor Reduction, 22-Inch
It’s time to replenish sunscreen supplies for those upcoming beach junkets, mountain hikes, and lazy days by the pool. Each summer, doctors and public service announcements remind us about the importance of slathering on the sunscreen before heading outdoors. The biggest benefits of course are that sunscreen helps absorb and/or reflect harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can cause premature aging and skin cancer.
This year I’m greening up my medicine cabinet, which means my beach bag will be including healthier sun products. The chemicals used to make sunscreen may not always be great for our bodies or for delicate marine ecosystems. While sunscreen is an absolute must, there are things you can do to choose one that is better for you and the environment.
Sunscreens containing zinc dioxide or titanium dioxide are great alternatives to those with chemicals such as oxybenzone. Zinc and titanium are minerals that provide broad-spectrum coverage, reflecting both UVA and UVB rays. An added benefit is that many zinc and titanium sunscreens these days are micronized to avoid the white, painted-on look. Carefully read the list of active ingredients before purchasing as some sunscreens contain zinc and titanium in combination with other chemicals.
Pick Healthier Ingredients
Not all sunscreens claiming to be natural are equal. Many cosmetics and sunscreens, even those with natural and organic labels, contain preservatives to insure products remain as fresh as possible. When shopping for a sunscreen, consider avoiding ones with harsher chemical preservatives such as parabens (including butylparaben and methylparaben), which have had mixed health reviews. Instead, look for sun products without preservatives or those with milder preservatives such as potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate. Also, steer clear of sunscreens with petroleum-based ingredients such as mineral oil.
Look for natural emollients such as olive, sunflower and jojoba oils, and shea and cocoa butter, to name a few.
While you are greening up your sun products, don’t forget about all of the other advice you have heard over the years. With more than 1 million cases of skin cancer being diagnosed in the U.S. each year, it is important to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days and while indoors since UVA rays can penetrate glass. Look for a sunscreen that is waterproof and has at least an SPF of 15. Additionally, consider avoiding direct sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm.
For yourself, and especially for your kids, buy sun protective clothing you can wear in the water and on the beach. One of my sun-averse friends has never let her fair-haired, 4-year-old daughter onto the beach or in a pool without a full-body swimsuit that completely covers her arms and legs. And ya know what? She hasn’t burned yet! For adults, you might want to check out fun “surfer-wear” board shorts and rashguard shirts for more coverage in the water. Look for fabrics with a 50 UPF (ultraviolet protection factor). Like most things, think moderation! A little bit of sun can be a good thing – just don’t overdo it!
The Environmental Working Group’s Top 5 choices for safe effective sunscreens are these:
1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock
2. Rukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance
4. Badger Sunscreen
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum
Scientists do not yet know with any certainty whether the levels of acrylamide typically found in some foods pose a health risk for humans.
A series of case-control studies have investigated the relationship between dietary intake of acrylamide and the risk of developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, large bowel, kidney, breast, and ovary. These studies generally found no excess of tumors associated with acrylamide intake. In the studies, however, not all acrylamide-containing foods were included in estimating exposures. In addition, information in case-control studies about exposures is often based on interviews (personal or through questionnaires) with the case and control subjects, and these groups may differ in the accuracy of their recall about exposures. One factor that might influence recall accuracy in cancer-related dietary studies is that diets are often altered after receiving a diagnosis of cancer.
To avoid such limitations in accurately determining acrylamide exposure, biomarkers of exposure were recently used in a Danish cohort study designed to evaluate the subsequent risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Among women with higher levels of acrylamide bound to the hemoglobin in their blood, there was a statistically significant increase in risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This finding suggests an endocrine hormone-related effect, which would be consistent with the results of a questionnaire-based cohort study in the Netherlands that found an excess of endometrial and ovarian cancer—but not of postmenopausal breast cancer—associated with higher levels of acrylamide exposure. Another cohort study from the Netherlands suggested a positive association between dietary acrylamide and the risk of renal cell cancer, but not of prostate or bladder cancer.
What are other health effects of acrylamide? High levels of acrylamide in the workplace have been shown to cause neurological damage, e.g., among workers using acrylamide polymers to clarify water in coal preparation plants.
Are acrylamide levels regulated? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates acrylamide in drinking water. The EPA established an acceptable level of acrylamide exposure, set low enough to account for any uncertainty in the data relating acrylamide to cancer and neurotoxic effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the amount of residual acrylamide in a variety of materials that come in contact with food, but there are currently no guidelines governing the presence of acrylamide in food itself.
What research is needed? Although studies in rodent models suggest that acrylamide is a potential carcinogen, additional epidemiological cohort studies are needed to help determine any effects of dietary acrylamide intake on human cancer risk. It is also important to determine how acrylamide is formed during the cooking process and whether acrylamide is present in foods other than those already tested. This information will enable more accurate and comprehensive estimates of dietary exposure. Biospecimencollections in cohort studies will provide an opportunity to avoid the limitations of interview-based dietary assessments by examining biomarkers of exposure to acrylamide and its metabolites in relation to the subsequent risk of cancer.
For information about acrylamide in food from the WHO and FAO, please visit the WHO Web site at http://www.who.int/search/semantic/en/#search=acrylamide%20in%20food&sort=score%20desc&fq=%7B!noshow%3Dtrue%7Dlanguages%3Aenon the Internet.
Although washing with plain water can accomplish quite a lot, adding a natural sources of acid (namely lemon and vinegar) to the wash can provide a much better natural disinfectant.
Prepare the organic lemon. You can use a normal lemon, which would be slightly cheaper, but the wash couldn’t be called “organic”, just “natural”. Regardless, both kinds of lemons will be fine for this task.
Follow these few simple steps to make your own organic and inexpensive lemon and vinegar cleaning recipe.
Step 1: Squeeze Your Lemon
Slice your lemon in half and squeeze out one tablespoon of lemon juice and pour it into your spray bottle. The lemon juice is a natural disinfectant and will leave your fruits and vegetables smelling fresh.
Step 2: Vim And Vinegar
Pour the vinegar into your spray bottle along with one cup of water. The acid in the vinegar will neutralize most pesticides. Screw on the top and shake the mixture vigorously. Spray your wash on all your fruits and vegetables then rinse with filtered water if possible.
Recommendation: You might still want to choose a spray bottle that does not contain phthalates or bisphenol: Plastics with recycling numbers 1 and 2 are acceptable choices, and number 4 or 5 should also be alright.
Below is a video on “How To Make An Organic Fruit And Vegetable Wash.”
You never know what kinds of pesticides or other toxic chemicals may still be attached to your produce. Protect your health by following some of the steps provided in Wikihow videos and throughout this website. To better health!
When people talk about detoxification and cleansing the body of harmful toxins, it’s often seen as a fringe element of vegetarians. People really don’t like to think about harmful toxins building up in their colons or in their arteries, but it’s often a by-product of a carnivorous diet. A diet that’s high in fat and processed foods tends to slow down our digestive systems, and our elimination processes are also interrupted.
This can allow harmful bacteria and toxins to accumulate and can create a general feeling of sluggishness, as well as a host of digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or colitis. When we begin eating a more healthy vegetarian diet, we start to get more dietary fiber into our systems, and all of a sudden, our digestive systems start to work better,
When you eliminate high-fat meat and processed foods from your diet, then much of your body’s energy is freed from the intense work of digesting these foods. Everything becomes clearer – your blood, your organs, your mind. You start to become more aware of the toxic nature of the food you’d been eating before.
Toxicity is of much greater concern in the twentieth century than ever before. There are many new and stronger chemicals, air and water pollution, radiation and nuclear power. We ingest new chemicals, use more drugs of all kinds, eat more sugar and refined foods, and daily abuse ourselves with various stimulants and sedatives. The incidence of many toxicity diseases has increased as well. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the main ones. Arthritis, allergies, obesity, and many skin problems are others. In addition, a wide range of symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, pains, coughs, gastrointestinal problems, and problems from immune weakness, can all be related to toxicity. When you start a vegetarian eating plan, your body eventually cleanses itself of the harmful effects of these toxic foods.
The best way to avoid Acrylamide found in certain foods is to boil or steam your food or eat your vegetables raw.
Even if you work out and eat healthy you can still become polluted. The air that you breathe, the food that you eat, perfumes, deodorants and lotions. The list goes on and on. All of these things introduce chemicals into your body and over time these chemicals build up and cause you to be overweight and unhealthy.
As time goes on toxic build up thickens and becomes increasingly difficult for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs due to the thick layer of fecal matter separating it from nutrients. Toxins are also absorbed into the skin, our organs, our brain and even our cells. These toxins are normally moved by the body through proper nutrition and healthy exercise, not so anymore.
The President’s Cancer Panel dedicated the last two years to examining the impact of environmental factors on cancer risk. The Panel has just released an extensive report on their findings, which include eye-opening recommendations for individuals, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic. Although many of us have read similar recommendations and warnings, it is important to highlight that this report emerges from mainstream scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel, a panel of three experts who review the U.S. cancer program and report directly to the President.
“Most of what we know about cancer is based on studies of non-Hispanic white people, but by the middle of the century that group will be only 38 percent of the population,” said panel member Margaret L. Kripke, a professor emerita of immunology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “We need more data on cancer among minority populations so that we can begin to implement specific preventive measures.”
The report recommends more research into sociological factors that may explain disparities in cancer mortality among minorities.
“There have been a lot of studies in recent years trying to understand genetic differences associated with cancer susceptibility, but there are also cultural factors that can affect cancer mortality,” said Kripke. “In some cultures, people are so afraid of a cancer diagnosis that they don’t seek treatment until it’s very late.”
Current cancer screening guidelines should be evaluated, the panel noted, “to determine their accuracy in assessing disease burden in diverse populations.”
“One-size-fits-all screening guidelines don’t work,” Kripke said. “For example, the breast cancer screening guidelines have been loosened up so that women can start having mammograms later and may be screened less often, but we know that there is an early age of onset of breast cancer among Latino populations, and so if you change the guidelines based on the majority of people, these women will be left out.”
Another recommendation is that “cultural competency” become an integral part of medical school as well as continuing education for all health-care providers and administrative staff.
Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, praised the report, and said it “hit all the right points.”
Another statistic that I found staggering and scary is that approximately 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and about 21 percent of us will die from cancer. The Presidential Panel noted cancers are becoming more common, particularly in children, and the proliferation of chemicals in water, foods, air and household products is widely suspected as a factor according to the Panel. I’m glad to see that the Panel recognizes that there is a link between cancers and chemicals – I intuitively knew that there had to be a connection as I’ve witnessed friends and family having to deal with childhood and young adult cancers. Thirty or forty years ago, you rarely heard of a child with cancer (or severe food allergies for that matter). With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented.
What Individuals Can Do: Excerpts from the Presidential Panel’s Recommendations.
Individuals can take important steps in their own lives to reduce their exposure to environmental elements that increase risk for cancer and other diseases. And collectively, individual small actions can drastically reduce the number and levels of environmental contaminants.
· It is vitally important to recognize that children are far more susceptible to damage from environmental carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds than adults. To the extent possible, parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children’s exposure to toxics. Particularly when pregnant and when children are small, choose foods, toys and garden products with fewer endocrine disruptors or other toxins. (Information about products is at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com or www.healthystuff.org)
Individuals and families have many opportunities to reduce or eliminate chemical exposures. For example…
· Removing shoes before entering the home and washing work clothes separately from the other family laundry.
· Filtering home tap or well water… Unless the home water source is known to be contaminated, it is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.
· Storing and carrying water in stainless steel, glass, or BPA- and phthalate-free containers.
· Microwaving food and beverages in ceramic or glass instead of plastic containers.
· Choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues…
· Exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications if it is available. Avoiding or minimizing consumption of processed, charred, and well-done meats.
· Properly disposing of pharmaceuticals, household chemicals, paints, and other materials.
· Choose products made with non-toxic substances or environmentally safe chemicals.
· Reducing or ceasing landscaping pesticide and fertilizer use will help keep these chemicals from contaminating drinking water supplies.
· Turning off lights and electrical devices when not in use reduces exposure to petroleum combustion by-products because doing so reduces the need for electricity, much of which is generated using fossil fuels.
· Driving a fuel-efficient car, biking or walking when possible, or using public transportation also cuts the amount of toxic auto exhaust in the air.
· Reduce or eliminate exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in the home, auto, and public places.
· Adults and children can reduce their exposure to electromagnetic energy by wearing a headset when using a cell phone, texting instead of calling, and keeping calls brief.
· It is advisable to periodically check home radon levels. Home buyers should conduct a radon test in any home they are considering purchasing.
· Patients should discuss with their health care providers the need for medical tests or procedures that involve radiation exposure.
· Adults and children can avoid overexposure to ultraviolet light by wearing protective clothing and sunscreens when outdoors and avoiding exposure when the sunlight is most intense.
· Each person can become an active voice in his or her community… letting policymakers know that they strongly support environmental cancer research and measures that will reduce or remove from the environment toxics that are known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Individuals also can influence industry by selecting non-toxic products and, where these do not exist, communicating with manufacturers and trade organizations about their desire for safer products.
What should I avoid when I am buying makeup or other personal care items?
These are the top 12 ingredients to avoid in your cosmetics. There is a link at the bottom to companies who pledge to avoid these chemicals.
Overuse of antibacterials can prevent them from effectively fighting disease-causing germs like E. coli and Salmonella enterica. Triclosan, widely used in soaps, toothpastes and deodorants, has been detected in breast milk, and one recent study found that it interferes with testosterone activity in cells. Numerous studies have found that washing with regular soap and warm water is just as effective at killing germs.
2. Coal Tar
Coal tar is a known human carcinogen used as an active ingredient in dandruff shampoos and anti-itch creams. Coal-tar-based dyes such as FD&C Blue 1, used in toothpastes, and FD&C Green 3, used in mouthwash, have been found to be carcinogenic in animal studies when injected under skin.
3. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA is a possible hormone disruptor, has shown limited evidence of carcinogenicity and depletes the body of chlorine needed for fetal brain development. DEA can also show up as a contaminant in products containing related chemicals, such as cocamide DEA.
1,4-Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen that can appear as a contaminant in products containing sodium laureth sulfate and ingredients that include the terms “PEG,” “-xynol,” “ceteareth,” “oleth” and most other ethoxylated “eth” ingredients. The FDA monitors products for the contaminant but has not yet recommended an exposure limit. Manufacturers can remove dioxane through a process called vacuum stripping, but a small amount usually remains. A 2007 survey by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that most children’s bath products contain 10 parts per million or less, but an earlier 2001 survey by the FDA found levels in excess of 85 parts per million.
Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans. Yet it still turns up in baby bath soap, nail polish, eyelash adhesive and hair dyes as a contaminant or break-down product of diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium compounds.
The catchall term “fragrance” may mask phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may cause obesity and reproductive and developmental harm. Avoid phthalates by selecting essential-oil fragrances instead.
7. Lead and Mercury
Neurotoxic lead may appear in products as a naturally occurring contaminant of hydrated silica, one of the ingredients in toothpaste, and lead acetate is found in some brands of men’s hair dye. Brain-damaging mercury, found in the preservative thimerosol, is used in some mascaras. Despite the fact that some cosmetic industry people say lipstick can’t be made without lead, lead-free lipsticks are already on the market
Tiny nanoparticles, which may penetrate the skin and damage brain cells, are appearing in an increasing number of cosmetics and sunscreens. Most problematic are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, used in sunscreens to make them transparent. When possible, look for sunscreens containing particles of these ingredients larger than 100 nanometers. You’ll most likely need to call companies to confirm sizes, but a few manufacturers have started advertising their lack of nanoparticle-sized ingredients on labels.
(methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-) Parabens, which have weak estrogenic effects, are common preservatives that appear in a wide array of toiletries. A study found that butyl paraben damaged sperm formation in the testes of mice, and a relative, sodium methylparaben, is banned in cosmetics by the E.U. Parabens break down in the body into phydroxybenzoic acid, which has estrogenic activity in human breast-cancer cell cultures.
10. Petroleum Distillates
Possible human carcinogens, petroleum distillates are prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics in the E.U. but are found in several U.S. brands of mascara, foot-odor powder and other products. Look out for the terms “petroleum” or “liquid paraffin.”
Commonly found in hair dyes, this chemical can damage the nervous system, cause lung irritation and cause severe allergic reactions. It’s also listed as 1,4-Benzenediamine; p-Phenyldiamine and 4-Phenylenediamine.
Found in skin lighteners and facial moisturizers, hydroquinone is neurotoxic and allergenic, and there’s limited evidence that it may cause cancer in lab animals. It may also appear as an impurity not listed on ingredients labels.
UREA Imidazolldinyl, Diazolidinyl Urea: A preservative that often releases formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans.
Alchohol Isopropyl (SD-40)
Drying, irritating solvent that strips skin’s moisture and immune barrier, making you vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Made from a petroleum derivative found in shellac and antifreeze as well as personal care products. Promotes brown spots and premature aging. A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetics Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.
Found in drain, metal and oven cleaners, is extremely irritating to eyes, nose and throat and can burn those tissues on contact. The cosmetic industry is now putting it in skin care products and oral care products. The warning label on sodium hydroxide products reads “POISON. May be fatal or cause permanent damage if swallowed. May cause blindness. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mouth and clothing.”
Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol
Petroleum by-products that act as surfactants (wetting agents and solvents), they easily penetrate skin and weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. The EPA requires workers to wear protective clothing and to dispose of any PG solutions in toxic waste dumps. Because PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against skin contact to prevent brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.
Sodium lauryl sulfate, used in about 90% of personal care products that foam, a common skin irritant. When rinsed off, the product will have cleaned the area but will have taken moisture from the top layers of skin. In people with sensitive skin the drying property of these type of detergents can cause flare-ups of skin conditions or may worsen existing conditions. Personal care product manufacturers often add back chemically derived oils such as mineral oil to coat the skin leaving the illusion of the skin being moisturized when in fact these products only interfere with the skin’s natural moisturizing abilities.
Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic wrap, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging.
What can you do?
Look for body care products from one of the 600 retailers that have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Compact. These companies have pledged to phase out the 450 chemicals banned by the European Union in 2005 because they’re strongly suspected of being mutagens, carcinogens, or endocrine disrupters.
See the attached list of good ingredients for moisturizers.
The Cosmetics Database is a great resource for finding information on all your beauty products.