Thursday, April 7, 2011

They're putting WHAT in my products? A handy list of chemicals to avoid

With the EPA welcoming comments about a potential ban on triclosan, lots of terms have been tossed around lately. Terms, I realize, that not all of you might understand. So I thought I'd give you a quick tip sheet, so you could be better equipped to make decisions on the safety of the products you are using from now on.
  • BPA (Bisphenol A) -- a plasticizer linked to birth defects and reproductive problems.
  • Carcinogens -- cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Developmental/reproductive toxicants -- chemicals that can block the normal development of a fetus, infant or child. Also linked to damage of reproductive tissues.
  • Endocrine disrupters -- chemicals that interfere with normal hormone functions, often resulting in premature puberty in girls and in feminization of male fetuses.
  • Formaldehyde -- causes cancer. Period.
  • Naphthalene -- central nervous system depressant.
  • Organochlorine pesticides -- another case of hormone disruptors. These chemicals are most often used as insecticides and have also been labeled as neurotoxins.
  • PCBs -- although these were banned three decades ago, these were used in appliances and electrical devices. Strong links to cancer.
  • PFOA (non-stick and stain-resistant coating chemicals) -- coatings that can cause birth defects and cancer.
  • Perchloroethylene -- causes damage to your liver, kidneys and nervous system.
  • Petroleum distillates -- in addition to being extremely flammable, lung tissue and nerve cells are at risk of damage with exposure.
  • Phenols -- possible carcinogen.
  • Phthalates -- another plasticizer (like BPA) that is most likely a carcinogen.
  • Quaternary ammonium salt (Q-15 or quaternium-15) -- a formaldehyde releaser. Watch out for this one! It is hiding in many popular baby products!
  • Sodium hydroxide (lye) -- severe damage to eyes, mouth, skin and throat when contact is made. Also can damage the liver and kidneys.
  • Sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) -- listen up, folks!! Bleach is responsible for more poisoning exposures than any other household chemical! Whiten your clothes with lemon juice and leave the bleach on the grocery store shelves! Besides, contact can cause severe eye, mouth, skin and throat damage, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys. Scary stuff found in most households!
  • Sulfuric acid -- concentrated fumes can cause cancer. Contact can cause burns.
  • Teratogens -- chemicals related to birth defects.
  • Trichloroethane -- more liver and kidney damage.
  • Triclosan -- this antibacterial ingredient has been linked to allergies, skin irritation and potential thyroid problems.
This is just a short list, but it is a start. And I've addressed this issue in past posts, with even more chemicals listed. You need to read the labels of the products in your home and workplace. Your health, and the health of your children, depends on it! There are alternatives and it is time we, as consumers, start putting our money where the big name manufacturers' chemicals are not! Buying eco-friendly and organic products is not just the current fad. And it's not about a bunch of hippies. It's about a bunch of really smart people who are saying enough is enough!

Caring about you and your families,


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