While you’re cleaning your home or bathing your child, the last thing on your mind is whether you are being exposed to toxic chemicals. However, the reality is that you are, indeed, being exposed to hundreds of different toxic chemicals found in ordinary personal care products and household cleaning agents.
Currently, many companies are responding to the nationwide push to “clean up” their products. However, the majority of commercial manufacturers have not climbed aboard this very important cause, resulting in numerous toxins in common, daily products.
You may ask, “Why is this important? Afterall, isn’t that the job of my liver, to clear out the garbage?”. Well, to simplify things, one of the jobs of the liver (it has many) is to filter out the toxic waste that makes it into our bodies. The liver does that very effectively, but here’s the problem…we are exposed to thousands more chemicals, now than our ancestors were. As a result, the liver struggles to keep up with the toxic load and instead of those chemicals being cleared out of your body, they get backed up and stored in tissue. Because of the increased toxic load in our bodies, we are seeing a tremendous rise in many diseases, which research has shown to be environmentally induced. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as much as 24% of global disease is caused by environmental exposures. The following diseases have been linked to chronic environmental exposure:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Autoimmune diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis, MS, Lupus)
If you want to take control and stay healthy, as well as protecting your children, then it’s time to reduce the toxin load in your home. Here’s an easy way to start. Read ingredient labels on products. If you can’t pronounce it and don’t recognize the ingredient, then don’t use it.
Here are five everyday toxins that are in many household cleaning and hygiene products that you should ALWAYS AVOID.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
A filler ingredient that is often added to personal hygiene products to make them foam, sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the big offenders. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database rates SLS as a “moderate hazard” based on the fact that research proves it is linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption. Furthermore, studies show that undiluted sodium lauryl sulfate can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested as well as it has adverse effects on the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system.
Many manufacturers will argue that SLS is derived from coconuts, and therefore completely safe and harmless. SLS can be synthetic and derived from petroleum, which is toxic or it may also be derived from coconuts. Even when coconuts are the source of SLS, it is mixed with sulfur trioxide, a toxic chemical, making it a biohazard to your body.
SLS is present in most mainstream body washes, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, and laundry detergents. The toxin may also be listed as sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, sodium salt sulfuric acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate, aquarex me, or aquarex methyl. To avoid the product, look for products that are marked as “SLS free” as well as shampoos and other products that are made with essential oils.
Bisphenol-A or BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used in many household plastics and food packages for decades. The biggest concern with this chemical is its ability to seep into food and beverages from containers made with BPA. Numerous research has indicated that the toxin has been linked with side effects on the brain, mood and behavior, and prostate glands, especially in fetuses, infants, and children. Further studies show that the chemical may also be linked to an increase in blood pressure. Scientific studies have shown that BPA is capable of interfering with the body’s hormones, particularly estrogen in children and adults.
BPA is most commonly found in polycarbonate plastics that are used to create food and beverage containers. However, it may also be found in other consumer products. Some epoxy resins containing the toxin are also used to coat the insides of metal products, including food cans, bottle tops, and water supply lines.
BPA Free Plastics Still Not Safe
Removing BPA from plastics is not regulated. Due to lack of regulations many companies remove the BPA and replace it with BPS (bisphenol S). Studies have found that BPS is even more toxic than BPA and linked with causing the same diseases.
In order to steer clear of BPA or BPS, avoid heating plastics in the microwave or placing them in the dishwasher, as this may cause them to break down. Never leave your plastic water bottles inside your car on days where the external daily temperature rises above 80 degrees. Also, look for alternatives, such as glass, porcelain, or stainless-steel containers, particularly for hot foods and liquids.
Scientists have linked BPA exposure with the following diseases:
- Metabolic disorders
- Thyroid disease
- Birth defects
- Heart Arrythmias
- Brain and neurological disorders
How to Avoid BPA
Here are some general rules of thumb:
- Buy food or beverages stored in glass jars
- Ditch plastic water bottles and use unlined stainless steel water bottles or glass water bottles
- Have a store email your paper receipt (thermal paper is loaded with BPA)
- Wash your hands frequently and always before eating
Artificial Food Coloring & Dye
Artificial food colors and dyes are often used in candy, cereals and baked goods to give them their vibrant colors. While children and parents alike often find foods made with artificial food coloring and dye more appealing, the issue is that most have never been tested to determine the long-term effects. Of the dyes that have been tested, some come back with inconclusive results while others have been connected to hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.
The most common culprits are Yellow 5 and Red 40; however, other common dyes include Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, and Yellow 6. Artificial colors are most common in candies and baked goods, but some companies also put them in beverages, pet food, and even some meat products. To avoid the effects of artificial food coloring and dye, look for foods without any additives and try your hand at naturally coloring foods at home with things like fruits and vegetables.
While most people know to avoid direct exposure to high concentrations of ammonia, few people realize how common the chemical is in household cleaning products. The chemical is found in everything from plastics to fabrics, dyes, and household cleaning solutions. While some individuals are more sensitive to the chemical than others, anyone can experience negative side effects from the toxin. The most common form of exposure is inhalation that can cause eye, nose, skin, throat and respiratory irritation. Over time, the chemical can even contribute to bronchial and alveolar edema as well as respiratory disorders.
The chemical is most commonly found in polishing agents, such as those used to clean windows, bathroom fixtures, sinks, and jewelry. The chemical evaporates cleanly without leaving any streaks behind, which is why it’s often chosen for such cleaning products. White vinegar or Vodka is an effective alternative to ammonia if you’re cleaning a metal or mirrored surface. Mix vinegar or vodka with water using a 1:1 ratio. Regular toothpaste can be used as a safe silver polish.
A highly versatile substance, sodium hydroxide or lye is often fou nd in powerful household cleaning products like bleach, oven cleaners and drain openers. The chemical is extremely corrosive, so if it touches your skin or enters your eyes, it can cause extreme burns. Not only that but if you inhale sodium hydroxide fumes, it can damage the lining of your esophagus and cause a sore throat that lasts for days or cause further damage.
So, ditch the bleach! It’s horrible for your health and the environment as well. Switch to non-chlorine bleach, sold by Seventh generation, Ecover and green works. Non-chlorine bleach uses a strong concentration of hydrogen peroxide (usually about 17% concentration of peroxide) as its oxidizing, whitening agent. Non-chlorine bleach is equally as effective in whitening clothes and removing stains without the toxicity.
Surprisingly enough, this same chemical found in bleach can also be found in cosmetic and personal care products, such as foot powders, hair dyes, makeup, nail products, shampoos, and more. Instead of using cleaning products laced with lye, try baking soda and vinegar instead. Likewise, look for personal care products and cosmetics that are free of the irritant to limit your exposure.
In the 21st century, Our bodies are now bombarded with far more chemicals than ever before in history. The World Health Organization agrees that our exposure to multiple daily chemicals is increasing our rate of childhood and adult disease and illness. Although, many things may be out of our control, there are still quite a few things that we can control. First and foremost, be diligent and educate yourself.
There are now many websites and apps that will catch you up to date on which ingredients in your food, cleaning products and personal care products are toxic. Make sure to become familiar with these websites and apps:
- Be food smart (befoodsmart.com)
- Environmental Working Group (ewg.org)
✓ Skin Deep (safe make up and personal care products) (ewg.org/skindeep)
✓ Dirty Dozen (guide to pesticides in produce)
- Dirty Dozen (free)
- GoodGuide (free)
- Think Dirty (free)
- Detox Me (free)
- Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide (free)
- EWG’s Healthy Living (free)
- Peaceful Nursery Guide ($0.99)
Don’t allow your health to fall victim to the commercial industry. Be proactive. Start by downloading these free apps.
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- Marrie RA, Hanwell H (2013) General health issues in multiple sclerosis: comorbidities, secondary conditions, and health behaviors. Continuum (Minneap Minn) 19: 1046-1057.
This blog has been provided by Dr. John Coppola, D.C. and Dr. Valerie Monteiro, D.C. Dr. Coppola and Dr. Monteiro are the founders of the San Antonio Neuropathy Center, and Precision Sport & Spine. They are the leading experts in the field of neuropathy and specifically drug free nerve repair. They are the authors of the critically acclaimed book "Defeat Neuropathy Now .... In Spite of Your Doctor. The doctors have over 25 years of clinical experience.
If you would like to reach the doctors regarding a specific health problem, you may email them at email@example.com.
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