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Posts Tagged ‘Toxics’

Cosmetics. They are everywhere. They keep our face clear, our skin soft, our eyelashes fuller, and our teeth sparkle. Every year, the American people spend over 27 billion dollars keeping themselves pretty. Now I know that may not sound like a lot with all of this billion dollar bail-out-business that has been going on, but 27 billion dollars is A LOT of money. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average person uses 12 beauty product a day. One in four use 15. The average man even uses at least 6. The true cost however, may not be coming out of our pocketbooks. Recent research shows that many of us are paying with our health.

Ok, so I’ll admit, I am also part of the problem here. Until a few years ago, I was a beauty product junkie. I don’t know about you, but every time I walked into a CVS or a Walgreens, chances were pretty high that I was coming out with a new product. All those eye-catching packages, all the health claims; they got me every time. It might be something as simple as chap-stick (gosh, where do they all go??), but a product left the store with me nonetheless. Five years of trying to clear out my product stash, and I still have a host of unused products staring at me every time I open my linen closet.

So why the change? Well, it originally started with my attempt to eat healthier and more nutritious foods. I figured with all of the added emphasis to what was going IN my body, what was going ON my body should be just as important. After all, your skin is your biggest organ right? So I then fell into the marketing trap. I started purchasing more “natural”, more expensive products. While I bought less of them because they were so pricey, I still bought them. I was convinced that products containing organic sap moss from Iceland must be better for me…right? I read over each label making sure I could at least pronounce all the the ingredients listed and was sure to stay away from things like benzyl alcohol, animal parts, and petroleum bi-products.  

Then as the years passed, I started reading about parabens. Parabens are the most widely used preservative in cosmetic products.  And when I say cosmetic, I don’t just mean make-up. They are found in body lotions, shower gels, shampoos, over the counter topical creams, and  pretty much just about everything. The most common parabens used in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Check any product in your house and chances are very high that one, if not all three, are listed on the ingredient list. Although they are used in very small amounts, if you are using 10-12 products a day, you are being exposed to them in everything you use. While the FDA claims that they are safe, parabens have found in breast tumors from women with cancer. They tested 20 tumors and found parabens in ALL of them.  The study did not make the claim that parabens actually cause breast cancer, but many other groups and companies have started taking precautionary measures and taking these parabens out of their products. ANd why not? Simply because that study didn’t prove parabens caused cancer, it also didn’t prove that they didn’t. The study was enough for me to make sure they are kept out of my products.

And as if reading reports on parabens wasn’t enough, I soon started reading about phthalates. Pronounced “thay-lates”, these chemicals are mainly used as plasticizers in order to increase flexibility in plastc. Think about all those rubber duckies, plastic teething rings, and shower curtain liners. Chances are, they are full of them. So whats so bad about that? Well, phthalates are also known endocrine disruptors. They mimic the body’s hormones and have, in laboratory animal tests, been shown to cause reproductive and neurological damage. In one report, I read that the application of phthalates actually changed the sex of the frogs they were being tested on! According to the Environmental Working Group, phthalates have been linked to all sorts of problems in men including sperm damage, infertility, and reduced testosterone levels.  The unfortunate thing about them, is that unlike parabens, they are hard to find in products because they are not listed on the label. Due to patent laws, many companies can simply add the word “fragrance” to the list. It is under this, where many of these phthalates hide. They also hide them in acronyms such as DBP, DEHP, BzBp, and DMP.

Accoring to a PBS, Phthalates have been banned in the European Union since 2005. Nine other countries, including Japan, Mexico and Argentina, have also outlawed the chemicals. China, which makes 85 percent of the world’s toys, has developed two manufacturing lines, one for the European market and the other like-minded nations that ban phthalates, and another one for the United States and dozens mostly developing and third world countries that don’t restrict them. It took the US until the end of last year to pass a bill that would ban these and several other toxic chemicals from our children’s toys.  The next step should be to get them out of ALL of our products.

So what can you do? Well, you can start by checking out the toxicity of your products by going to the Environmental Working Group’s safe cosmetic database. One their site they also have a research section where you can look at a list of some of the toxic ingredients going into your products. Simply by refusing to purchase products with these things in them with say a lot to these companies. Remember purchasing power just that… power. With this knowledge, you can begin to make safer choices for yourself and your family.

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So, being a research fanatic is hard work. Fortunately, I often times will come across really great organizations that do all the work for me, and this is exactly what I found when it was time to purchase a new car seat for Liam. Yes, he has already outgrown his old one, can you believe it??? I know, I know, he may not be super-sized like some of my friend’s (yes, plural) 30 lb. 8 month olds who grew out of their infant seats at 3 months, but he’s big to me 🙂

When I started researching car seats a while back, I learned that (surprise, surprise) not only are they putting toxics in our food supply, but apparently they are putting them in our children’s car seats as well. (Hmm..what are we going to do with “them”?) You may be reading this thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t have children, so I am not concerned.” However, what you may not know, is that chances are, they are in your car seats as well. What kind of chemicals are in these seats you ask? Well, only bromine, PVC’s, phtalates, and lead (to name a few)!! Here is an excerpt from their site

“Plastics used in vehicle interiors and child car seats contain many chemicals that are added during the production processes to impart specific properties such as rigidity, durability or flame resistance. Many of these chemicals are not chemically bound to the parts and are consequently released into the environment during the life of the product. One of the common ways chemicals are released is referred to as “off-gassing,” and evidence of this is sometimes present as a window film or “fogging” that develops on the inside of the windshield. Heat can accelerate this process and UV exposure may also cause chemicals to break down into even more toxic compounds. The mix of chemicals released from materials used inside the car can be inhaled or ingested by drivers and passengers through dust and air, potentially causing allergic or other acute reactions. These chemicals have also been linked in animal studies to long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. The concern with the commercial use of these chemicals is that consumers are exposed to them from many sources in addition to auto interiors, and the combination of these many exposures may lead to harm.”

And there’s more where that came from. So when read the site, I learned that Sunshine Kids makes the only toxic-free children’s car seat on the market. There are many companies that make low-toxic seats, but Sunshine Kids is the only non-toxic one in the “convertible” car seat selection for 2008. When I started researching company, I found out that they were based locally in Kent, WA. Even better I thought! However, come to find out, like so many other American companies, even though they are based here, the seats are manufactured in China. So now I am faced with a dillemma. Should I poison my child or contribute money to human rights abuses? (decisions, decisions!) But seriously, it’s a tough call. I consciously avoid buying everything else from human rights abusers, but when it comes to exposing my child to toxic chemicals, I think I can make an exception. ANd that is exaclty what I did. So now Liam is cruising around in his super cool Radian 65! To see how healthy your car seats are, click here.

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