How toxic is your bathroom?
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Latest : read this artcle on a Study That Finds High Levels of Chemicals in Infants Using Baby Cosmetics here
warned: your daily beauty and cleansing regime could be damaging you,
and is a almost certainly a dangerous rip-off.
In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did something quite unusual. It issued an unprecedented warning to the cosmetics industry that it was time to let consumers in on the secret that most personal care products have not been safety tested in any way that is worthy. It is now proven beyond any reasonable doubt that many if not most of the products and their constituent chemicals that we use in our daily routines of washing, cleaning and preening have a deeply damaging effect upon us and our children, and in particular upon the foetus in the womb, where the effect is amplified up to 100 times. All those pregnant women putting on make-up are doing more damage to their children than smokers!!
Where the US goes, the UK inevitably follows - well sometimes! If the FDA started the ball rolling by flexing its muscles, it is possible that in the not too distant future 99 per cent of personal care products here in the UK could be required to carry a caution on the label: "Warning: The safety of this product has not been determined." They certainly should be so labeled.
What concerns scientists at the FDA and at environmental health organisations throughout the world is the ubiquitus "cocktail effect" - the daily mixing of many different types of toxins in and on the body, and around the home, at work on on our streets - and how this might damage health in the short-term over the longer term, of a lifetime or more.
On average, we each use nine personal care products a day containing 126 different ingredients. Such "safety" testing as exists looks for reactions, such as skin redness, rashes or stinging, but goes no further! Standard testing of these kinds of products does not investigate potential long-term problems for either humans or the environment. Yet the chemicals that go into products such as shampoos and hand creams are not trace contaminants. They are the basic ingredients. The bulk of the product is toxic chemicals.
Absorbed into the body, these toxins are stored in fatty tissue or organs such as the liver, kidney, reproductive organs and brain. Cosmetics companies complain of unfounded hysteria, yet researchers are finding significant amounts of industrial plasticisers such as phthalates in urine, preservatives known as parabens in breast-tumour tissue, and fragrance chemicals like the hormone-disrupting musk xylene and antibacterials such as Triclosan in human breast milk, as well as in foetal tissues, where the effect is magnified one hundred times. Medical research has proven that fragrances can trigger asthma; that the detergents in shampoos can damage eye tissue; and that hair-dye chemicals can cause bladder cancer and lymphoma. An even greater number of substances in personal care products are suspected to present potential risks to human health from this known, and long established well studied proven effect upon animals.
If these problems had been linked to pharmaceutical drugs, the products would have been taken off the market, if only becaus of the risk of massive punitive court judgements against the producers. If these products were invented tomorrow, none of them would pass muster or ever make it to your bathroom! But because the cosmetics industry is largely self-governing, and because these companies hold sway over governments, being extremely powerful loobyists who can punish non-compliant governments in many ways, products containing potentially harmful substances remain in use and on sale. Add to that the sad fact that we all want to believe in the mostly hollow promises of better skin and whiter teeth, and you have a nasty recipe for disaster in the making! Think it can't be that bad? Here's some examples from leading brands. It makes for shocking reading!
JOHNSON'S BABY SOFTWASH
"Best for baby, best for you."
They must be joking!! Best for Johnsons & Johnsons bank balance more like it! Children's skin is thinner and much more absorbent than adults', thus it is a less effective barrier to chemical toxins. The rates of eczema and allergies among children are on the rise and the early introduction of toiletries on to sensitive skin may be a factor. When soap does the job, why expose your child to skin and eye irritants such as sorbitan laurate, cocamidopropyl betaine and acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, or PEG-150 distearate, PEG-80, PEG-14M and sodium laureth sulphate that can be contaminated with the carcinogens 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide, or hormone disrupters such as parabens? In addition, there's nothing here that naturally moisturises the skin - only synthetic polymers (plastic-like substances) like polyquaternium-7 and polypropylene terephthalate that coat it, merely giving the impression of smoothness. Love the glossy finish! ooooooo!
"Instantly improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."
Whats wrong with wrinkles? To work, the product needs to be really well absorbed, so Regenerist contains penetration enhancers like disodium EDTA which drive the toxins such as hormone disrupters such as ethylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben and potential carcinogens such as polyacrylamide, triethanolamine (which can form cancer-causing nitrosamines), and the artificial colours CI 16035, CI 19140 and PTFE (Teflon) deeper into the skin. Regenerist contains the sunscreens butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (B-MDM) and ethylhexyl salicylate; not enough for an SPF rating, but potentially enough to irritate skin.
CALVIN KLEIN'S ETERNITY
"What the world needs now is love."
The scent of Lurve!! Perfumes are made from the same neurotoxic solvents found in glues and adhesives and volatile chemicals common in garages and factories, albeit in much smaller concentrations. Eternity contains a staggering 41 ingredients, about 80 per cent of which have never been tested for safety in humans. The rest are known neurotoxins, allergens, irritants and/or hormone disrupters. Still think perfume is sexy? Don't be fooled! It's carcinogenic!!
CLAIROL HERBAL ESSENCES SHAMPOO DRY/DAMAGED HAIR
"A totally organic experience."
Has all the appeal of a strap-on! It looks and smells appealing because it is coloured using four potentially cancer-causing dyes (CI 17200, CI 15510, CI 42053, CI 60730) and perfumed with synthetic fragrances that are known neurotoxins and skin irritants. Among its detergents, sodium lauryl sulphate can irritate skin and permanently damage eye tissue, and sodium laureth sulphate and cocamide MEA can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a hormone disrupter associated with breast cancer. Cocamidopropyl betaine, another detergent, is a penetration enhancer, as is the solvent propyelel glycol and the preservative tetrasodium EDTA; all allow other chemicals to penetrate more deeply into your skin and into your bloodstream, and from there touring around your body!.
"Spray more, get more."
Get more? Get more what exactly!? Wake up and smell yer armpits! Safer if washed with water, and scented with organic essential oil like tea tree or lavender - Lynx Dry contains three types of neurotoxins: solvents such as PPG-14 butyl ether; the propellants butane, isobutane and propane; and synthetic fragrance chemicals. It contains a preservative BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), which has been linked with cancer, and PEG-8 distearate, which can be contaminated with the hormone-disrupting carcinogens ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane as well as polycyclic aromatic compounds such as benzene and benz(a)pyrene. Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY and aluminium chlorohydrate work by clogging pores, thus blocking the bodies natural processes - long exposure to aluminium-containing deodorants raises the risk of diseases like Alzheimer's.
LISTERINE TEETH AND GUM DEFENCE
"Kills the germs that cause plaque and bad breath."
And will kill you if you drink a couple of litres of it! This mouthwash is 21.6 per cent alcohol. Alcohol dries and changes the pH of the mouth and throat and long-term use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes increases the risk of mouth and throat cancers. Listerine also contains a mild detergent, poloxamer 407, that is soluble in liquids at low temperatures but turns to a gel at higher temperatures (ie, body temperature). That makes it a film-former, "glueing" other ingredients on to the surfaces of the mouth for longer. Fluoride in quantity is poisonous if swallowed, and the sweetener saccharin causes bladder cancer in animals. Finally, synthetic colours, aromas and flavours are made from volatile solvents that can alter the basic flora of the mouth and may cause dermatitis.
"12-hour fresh breath and antibacterial protection."
That Colgate Ring of Confidence Trick! Conventional toothpastes often contain irritating detergents like sodium lauryl sulphate, which can cause sore gums and mouth ulcers, and abrasives like hydrated silica, which can erode tooth enamel. Total contains a glue-like substance, PVM/MA copolymer, that sticks the active ingredients to teeth. Saccharin, a known carcinogen in animals, is also found. The colouring CI 42090 (banned in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden) causes cancer in animals. Total contains Triclosan, an antibacterial agent that can in certain circumstances combine with chlorine in tap water to produce chloroform gas, which is easily absorbed into the skin or inhaled and can cause depression, liver problems and cancer.
GILLETTE MACH 3 SHAVING GEL
"The best a man can get."
Utterly False! I use hemp oil and a little lavender oil, and my shave is smooth, quick and healthy! MACH 3 Shaving Gel was promoted by a global advertising campaign featuring David Beckham, Gillette shaving products have carved their way into the ddysfunctional male psyche. If he thought about the ingredients, would the "epitome of the well groomed man" be so keen to promote the product? Does he care? Does he use the product? We should be told! Mach 3 gel contains skin irritants such as triethanolamine, palmitic acid glyceryl oleate, three potential carcinogens (polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), BHT, CI 42090) and three central nervous system toxins or pollutants (isopentane, parfum and isobutane).
CLAIROL NICE 'N EASY
"Natural-looking colour with complete grey coverage."
Natural looking is Natural hair! Doh! All hair dye sold in the EU containing phenylenediamines, resorcinol and/or 1-naphthol must carry a warning: "Can cause an allergic reaction. Do not use to colour eyelashes or eyebrows." Other hair dye ingredients - including coal tar dyes, 4-chloro-m-phenylenediamine, 2,4-toluenediamine, 2-nitro-p-phenylenediamine and 4-amino-2-nitrophenol - have proven carcinogenic in at least one animal species. In humans, intensive longer-term use of permanent hair dye is associated with breast, ovarian and bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple meyeloma and rheumatoid arthritis.
RADOX BUBBLE BATH
"Soothes emotions, cleanses the body."
Babble! Soothes emotions? Utter Bollox! Getting into a hot bath is soothing, no need for radox. Just add some organic essential oil such as lavender or Ylag-Ylang. Soaking in hot water increases skin permeability and helps vaporise chemicals in products, making them more easily inhaled. Radox Relax contains potential skin irritants (sodium laureth sulphate, cocamidopropyl betaine) potential carcinogens such as the preservative combo methylchloro-isothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone and synthetic dyes, and hormone-disrupting ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate. It contains perfume ingredients that are capable of irritating (coumarin, benzyl salicylate, limonene) and disrupting the central nervous system (butylphenyl methylpropional, alpha-isomethyl ionone, linalool).
"Feel the essential care."
Feel foolish, and ripped off, when you realise what you are really doing, plastering your skin with semi-synthetic fatty acids and waxes, Nivea Body contains denatured alcohol and glycerine, which can dry skin with repeated use. It also contains several estrogenic preservatives (methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben), contact allergens (phenoxy-ethanol, linalool, citronellol, hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carcoxaldehyde) and a potential carcinogen (limonene). Film-formers like dimethicone keep undesirable ingredients next to the skin longer. About one-third of the listed ingredients are fragrances that are known irritants and sensitisers of human skin; chemicals that, with repeated exposure, can trigger allergic reactions.
CLEARASIL 3-IN-1 DEEP CLEANING WASH
"Clinically proven to help fight spots."
You cannot fight a spot! You can suppress it - but that does not deal with the underlying reason for the spot! So in the war against spots these fools reccomend a mix of strong detergents and surfactants (sodium lauryl sulfate, cetyl betaine, distearyl-dimonium chloride and steareth-21), chemical exfoliants (salicylic acid) and solvents (glycerin, alcohol, menthol) that are capable of removing the skin's natural oils, and synthetic skin conditioners for repairing some of the damage inflicted by the other ingredients. It contains two potential carcinogens (BHT and disodium EDTA) and fragrance ingredients among the most commonly reported contact allergens in the EU (behenyl alcohol, limonene benzyl salicylate, linalool and hexyl cinnamal). These so consistently lead to skin problems that they must now be listed separately on labels within the EU.
Pat Thomas is health editor of The Ecologist. Her series 'Behind the Label' appears in the magazine every month (www.theecologist.org)
Strange but true: A version of this article was publish in the Independent in mid 2005 and the following week The (Co-)In(dependent) published a two page article on 'best buys' for similar products, none of which were organic....... or tested adequately. mmmmmmmm! Just goes to show how these mainstream media are pretty toxic themselves.
Alternatives I have used and love! (AIHUAL) - Hemp Oil, Tea-Tree essential oil, Lavender essential oil, water..... hemp oil for body and hair, hemp-oil and lavender for shaving (smooth!), hemp-oil and tea-tree for deodourants, water for washing, Tea Tree for teeth and gums (one drop on toothbrush!) ..... household cleaners - Vinegar and elbow power!