Consumer Products Safety: How to Survive in a Chemically Dependent World
Civilization has made people’s lives easier and convenient. But as knowledge and technology improve, so does the increase in environmental hazards. But the environmental impact such as global warming and pollution does not only take place outside. It affects our homes as well. Start from the chemicals we use everyday. Most of us aren’t even aware of the components of the products we use - from air fresheners to household cleaners, from cosmetics to the plastic food containers. It seems that every item we see on the store shelves are made up of chemicals, and ingredients hard to pronounce. It is mandatory for us consumers to become knowledgeable about the products we use. The internet itself is a rich database of information. Several organizations publish safety guidelines for concerned consumers.
However, it might be too overwhelming to remember all the safe and unsafe chemicals. Some products might even claim themselves to be natural or organic, but in truth, contain synthetic ingredients. It seems that becoming completely chemical-free is impossible, for we now live in a chemically dependent age. What we can do is to be as less exposed to these chemicals as possible. If you do buy products, such as household cleaners for instance, be sure to check the labels and instructions. The bottles usually contain information about safety procedures, including procedures to follow when accidentally ingested. Proper handling of these products is also usually indicated. So be sure to read the labels instead of ignoring them.
When it comes to buying personal care or cosmetic products, be extra cautious, especially if you have sensitive skin. Manufacturers of cosmetic products sometimes do not list every ingredient included. Read the labels. Be wary of ingredients such as “fragrances” and “inactive ingredients.” Manufacturers sometimes use these collective terms instead of listing the ingredients individually, thus, withholding information from the consumers. You should therefore avoid products with these labels that might contain allergens or irritants to your skin. The same rule applies to detergents. If the product list “fragrances” among the ingredients, be wary. To be on the safer side, opt for fragrance-free detergents.
Here are some helpful resources on consumer products
- EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: You could look up on their database of products, brands, and ingredients of cosmetic products to know if any of these pose health risks. The site also includes some helpful tips about which types of products to avoid.
- National Library of Medicine's Household Products Database: The site contains information about different products including household items and personal care products. Type in the product, brand, or ingredient in the search box and you will be given information whether the item is safe. The query provides related health studies and case reports on the products to give you a view on the health risks.
- Cosmetics Info: To those of you who might be wondering what each chemical listed on the label means, this page is for you. Type the product ingredient you want to know about and its description, research, and related links will appear.
- WebMD Health eHome: The page contains an interactive tool wherein you can see a simulation of a typical home. Pointing your mouse over a certain household item will prompt a safety tips window to appear. I highly recommend this page for you to have an overview of home safety.
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