Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Be Aware

I've never known precisely which chemicals or types of chemicals are the source of my persistent reactions and poor health. I haven't really been interested in knowing that information because it would have little practical application. I have no doubt whatsoever that some of my issues are the result of hormone disruptors.

My daughter turned me on to essential oils and their applications. Eden's Garden, the company I've been purchasing my oils from, have been running a series of blog posts about the hazardous chemicals commonly found in cleaning and beauty products and safer alternatives. From them I've learned about the more specific types of chemicals my body reacts to. The thing is, these chemicals are not often listed on the labels of these products - at least here in the USA. 

To quote directly from the Eden's Garden blog on the topic of personal products:
The skin is the largest organ on our bodies and it easily absorbs nearly everything slathered on it. On average, the skin absorbs 64% of what we put on it according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Beyond that, chemicals are more likely to penetrate the face and scalp.
Formaldehyde is one of the most toxic chemicals often included in beauty and personal care products. A report by the Federal Drug Administration found that nearly 1 in 5 cosmetic products contain a substance that generates formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. The sad truth is product labels are unlikely to reveal formaldehyde as an active ingredient. Instead, the ingredient list might include chemicals that are known to be a formaldehyde releasers such as DMDM hydantoin. Used as a preservative, DMDM hydantoin can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and lungs.
Another preservative, methylisothiazolinone, is a known human immune toxicant or allergen according to the European SCCS. Beware of shampoos and conditioners that claim to be “natural.” The FTC has found numerous cosmetics with synthetic ingredients that were labeled as “all natural” or “100% natural.” As a general rule, if you can’t identify the ingredient list, it’s best to avoid the product. Retinyl Palmitate (or vitamin A palmitate) is a skin-conditioning agent that is banned in Germany and restricted in Canada. According to a study by the FDA, the chemical may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.

One of the worst triggers for me are perfumes. It takes longer to recover from a whiff of someone's perfume than most any other exposure. Here's the word from Eden's Garden:
Sensitizers, hormone disruptors and reproductive toxins are just a few descriptions of some of the chemicals found in fragrances. In a study done by the Environmental Working Group, 17 name-brand perfumes were tested to find chemicals not listed on the labeling. On average, 14 undisclosed ingredients were discovered, including galaxolide, tonalide and diethyl phthalate. In the same study, EWG found that a majority of the perfumes’ ingredients had never been analyzed by a cosmetic safety organization, such as the Cosmetic Ingredient Review or the International Fragrance Association.
In a separate study performed by EWG and Rachel’s Network, it was reported that galaxolide and tonalide, two synthetic musks, were found in the cord blood of 7 out of 10 newborn babies. At this time, galaxolide and tonalide are believed to cause hormonal disruption and weaken an organism’s defense against toxins. Until more studies are performed, there is no certainty as to how much of a health risk these fragrances pose.
Banned in the European Union, diethyl phthalates (DEP) are very prevalent in fragrances made in the U.S. Diethyl phthalates are used to make fragrances long lasting in perfumery. According to a recent study by a group of environmental and public health organizations, 17 out of 17 perfumes tested contained DEP. Diethyl phthalates have been found to cause endocrine disruption, cancer and reproductive toxicity, making pregnant and breastfeeding women very vulnerable to the use of cosmetics containing DEP. Without lab testing, one can’t be sure if cosmetics containing fragrance also contain diethyl phthalates.

Another area of concern are the products we use to clean the textiles we wear next to our skin. This is what Eden's Garden had to say on that topic:
 When it comes to the most harmful chemicals in household products, there may be none more troublesome than 1,4 dioxane. A number of conventional cleaning brands include 1,4 dioxane in their products to be used as a solvent and laboratory reagent. The International Agency for Research on Cancer named the chemical as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Studies done by the EPA prompted the organization to name 1,4 dioxane as a chemical likely to cause cancer.
Artificial coloring agents are also often added to laundry detergents. Think of the blue laundry liquid featured in tv commercials. The sad truth is research shows that coloring agents can cause skin allergies and irritations and may even cause cancer. Furan and imidazole are coloring chemicals that are known to cause cancer according to CA Proposition 65. Coloring agents may also be responsible for organ damage and genetic defects.
Formaldehyde is another chemical ingredient packed into many over-the-counter household products. The EWG found that the chemical not only irritates the skin and respiratory system but is likely to cause cancer. The International Agency for Research On Cancer names formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.

That's enough for now. About all I can do is try to avoid exposure to these chemicals, which means staying home and indoors for the most part. Obviously we've cleaned up our personal environment as much as possible. Bringing in new items is always risky due to fumes from invisible chemicals. I do what I can to educate and advocate but most often I'm in no position to be very effective on those fronts. Just be aware, my friends, and do what you can to spread the word. If we as consumers quit buying these products loaded with dangerous elements the manufacturers will have to change their formulas. I don't expect to see a sea change in my lifetime but I have to keep trying for the sake of our children and grandchildren.


  1. Our one son is terribly bothered by perfumes and colognes worn by others, particularly as he rides public transportation (he does not drive). Burning fragrance-filled candles are another major trigger for him.

    We are all SO at the mercy of others who have no clue their beloved products cause such disruption and discomfort. Good for you for doing what you can to educate.

  2. Perhaps we should be aiming for legislation which compels full ingredient disclosure. I suppose the objection would be that it would make it too easy to copy a product. But really? Formaldehyde? I'll pass...

  3. I wonder if people had these problems many years ago before toxins, chemicals and other nasty things were developed and brought into our world.Have you had this all your life? Very interesting research.

  4. Wow, kind of eye-opening information! I had no idea. I just know I use very few cosmetics, never fragrance, and I have to have hypo-allergenic soaps (bath and laundry). Thanks for sharing this info. It's crazy to have all those chemicals in everything. Even in "all natural" items!

  5. Very interesting, and scary, post!

  6. I knew there was a very good reason not to overdo the housework ;)

  7. That's really interesting, especially about the fragrances. I've had chronic migraine for the past 40+ years and one of my worst triggers is fragrances. Trying to explain that to people gets disbelieving looks and worse. Much more education is needed on this to let people know that it's a huge problem for a portion of the population.
    Thanks for putting the info up on your blog!


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