Chemical maze

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Chemicals are everywhere these days. But do we really know the long term effects on our health?

You are almost constantly touching, breathing and eating something that has been treated with chemicals on a daily, if not hourly basis. In our modern world it is almost unavoidable unless you choose to live off the grid as some families experiment with. Personally this isn’t my cup of tea as I really like my life the way it is!

Common chemicals in our daily life

Here are some little know facts about a range of chemicals in our daily life. Its just the tip of the iceberg. The more you dig, the more you find.

  • Many common household goods (think mattresses, couches and carpet) and electronic equipment are coated in flame retardants prior to being sold. Some of these flame retardants are actually endocrine disrupters meaning they can mess with your hormones. Next time you buy furniture or a mattress, try and look for ones that have environmentally friendly certifications. Unfortunately the mattress we have (which has been a gift from heaven for my bad back) didn’t come without the flame retardant. But you do the best you can at the time and really, given how it has helped me I probably wouldn’t have changed my decision.
  • When you get a whiff of one of those ‘fragranced’ air fresheners, you are really just inhaling a concoction of synthetic chemicals that have been combined to give that ‘cherry blossom’ aroma. Those plug ins and car deodorisers are doing you more harm than good. I personally find them quite ‘sickly’ now and make up my own room sprays using filtered water and a combination of my favourite essential oils.
  • Every time you wash your hands or have a shower you are absorbing and inhaling the chlorine in the water. Chlorine in theory is a good thing as it kills any bacteria and other nasties before it reaches us. However, over time it can damage your skin, digestive tract and respiratory tract. I can’t wait to get a water filter for our entire house. In the meantime we use a Zazen shower filter which at least helps minimise the bulk of the exposure.
  • BPA (bisphenol A) free is the latest marketing tactic employed on plastic ware to convince consumers that the product is now safe to buy. BPA is another one of those endocrine disrupters. It is known to leach into food and drink stored in a BPA plastic container, most notably when it heats up. BPA is also used in the lining of tin cans unless labelled otherwise. But did you also know that other, lesser known chemicals in plastic can also be harmful to the body and in some cases also be endocrine disrupters? I’m gradually changing all my kitchen products to glass but its a slow process.
  • Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many herbicides used on our food crops, most commonly to control weeds. It is used almost everywhere else these days too from local sporting grounds, to sidewalks to home gardens. You would have heard of the most popular herbicide, Round Up. It contains glyphosate. Glyphosate is now known to have multiple effects on the body including causing major gut issues as well as being linked to cancers. It also destroys our soils to create environmental issues. I’ve banned its use in our garden.

Top chemicals to avoid in skin products

What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. Your skin is your largest organ and due to its structure its able to absorb whatever you put on it.

Children’s bodies are especially very susceptible as they are growing. Just like their little brains are sponges, so too is their skin. Unfortunately we just don’t know how these chemicals (or combination of) will affect them in years to come.

Here is a handy list of the top chemicals to avoid in skin products if you can. These equally apply to adults. In fact some of them have already been banned in the European Union but unfortunately continue to be used elsewhere in the world.

  • Parabens. These are used as preservatives allowing a product to have a longer shelf life. As well as being irritating to the skin they are also endocrine disrupters and have been linked to some cancers.
  • Sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate/sulfate. Commonly known as SLS this is a detergent used in shampoos, bubble baths, face and body cleansers, toothpaste and most household cleaning products to create the lather effect. As well as being a skin irritant, it can also increase the absorption of other chemicals.
  • Petrolatum ProductsAlso described as ‘Mineral Oils’ and ‘Petroleum Jelly,’ they give a product its smooth texture and are used often as a moisturising agent. However petrolatum impairs normal skin function by ‘sealing’ the skin when applied and affecting how it can breathe.
  • Diethanolamine and Tiethanolamine. Often described as DEA and TEA these act as emulsifiers amongst other actions. They can also be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes and DEA has been linked to cancers.
  • Talc. Used traditionally as a drying agent for the skin as it asbsorbs moisture. However it is highly irritant on the lungs and has been linked to some cancers. Some talcs are even known to contain asbestos!
  • PhthlatesPhthlates are added to a HUGE amount of ‘plastic’ products as they increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. They are also used in products that are ‘fragranced’ as they help to ‘hold’ the fragrance for longer. Think vinyl, children’s toys and nail polish just to name a few. Another chemical that has been linked to endocrine disruption and cancers.
  • Fragrances. Found in almost everything, these are what give products their amazing smell. The word usually means they are not made from natural plant based ingredients but rather an undisclosed concoction of man made chemicals. And again, linked to skin sensitivities and other health conditions.

Like everything, don’t just go through your home and throw out. Find you have run out of the usual bath wash that contains parabans? Simply replace it next time with one that doesn’t. Nourished Life have an amazing range of products, each selected to meet their strict safe ingredient criteria. Don’t be fooled by the ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ claims on the front of the package that contradict the ingredients on the back!

And don’t forget to take your shoes off inside. Glyphosate is everywhere you walk and transferring it from your shoes to your floor surfaces is not ideal. Especially if you have babies and children crawling and playing on the floor.

Remember people take years to go ‘low tox’ if that is even entirely possible in our modern world. I’m slowly plodding away!

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