How To Avoid Unnecessary Chemical Exposure - Part One
Each day of our lives we are exposed to a host of chemicals whether at home, work, traveling, or visiting others. With ever-increasing medical and scientific evidence that shows chemical exposure to be a factor in our health, it is important that we consider the chemical ingredients lurking in our daily lives and learn if we can lessen or eliminate our exposure. The saying "the dose makes the cure" may come to mind. Even when exposed to very low levels of natural and man made toxins, some people can have adverse or even life threatening problems. Reactions and irritations can occur even when the same product was used previously without negative side effects. While many consumer products do not cause reactions or bodily harm, there are everyday products that are used day in and out that have the potential to do so or are actual health threats.
Avoiding chemical/man made fragrances is becoming increasingly popular for a growing number of people from all walks of life. Whether they have known allergies or health issues, many people are learning that not everything that they use or come into contact with is beneficial to their health and that some things can cause them physical reactions or become ill. Irritations and reactions connected to certain products and chemical ingredients is a major reason that people switch to all natural products such as those used for hygiene, beauty, and grooming. The fact that a large number of man made chemicals cause or worsen health problems is another great reason to really look at the ingredients list and avoid those that are questionable.
A good rule of thumb is, if you can't pronounce each ingredient or do not know what each ingredient can do to you, don't use it. While some manufacturers can make the claim that certain ingredients they use haven't been proven unsafe, it is best to proceed with the fact that many ingredients in everyday products have not been proven safe either. Over time toxins can build up in our bodies causing harm. Would it not make more sense to be proactive about your health by learning more about the ingredients in the things you use?
There are a variety of surprising things that are unwittingly used by consumers of various products. Bath soaps, body lotions, colognes, perfumes, cosmetics, toothpastes, mouthwashes, lip balms, and shaving creams commonly contain questionable if not irritating or known cancer causing ingredients. Certain preservatives, colorants, moisturizers, thickeners, etc. also cause reactions or irritations in some people. Some ingredients have the ability to harm your health but they are still readily found in a variety of products ready for you or your children to buy, use, eat, or drink.
Be careful and understanding of the things you put on your skin, in your hair, and in any of your orifices. Know the item in whole and in part. Inform yourself and your family about ingredients in hygiene and grooming products and use caution for your children as well. Many manufacturers feel that it's to their benefit to avoid providing complete details unless they are absolutely forced to do so. On a more positive note, some companies are making the effort and actively working to improve their products and remove ingredients that are known to cause problems or simply haven't been proven safe and effective.
For instance, chemical sunscreens are being cast in a new and not so positive light for a couple of reasons. Recent studies and incidents have shown that some spray on sunscreens can actually catch fire even after they have been applied and have not dried. There is still debate about the possibility of catching fire even when dry. Some chemical sunscreens have been recalled. The second issue with chemical based sunscreens is that they have been shown to encourage free radical damage because they can absorb UV rays in the skin and provoke cellular changes rather than blocking the sun's rays before they have a chance to penetrate the skin. This is particularly important to women because free radical damage is a leading cause of aging skin. This is the reason some people prefer physical sunblocks. Chemical based sunscreens are also found in body lotions, cosmetics, and hair care products.
Chemicals in sunscreen such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, and Ensulizole may cause more harm than good. Octinoxate has been shown to be a hormone disruptor and shows potential to make cellular changes. MSDS sheets for Oxybenzone note that it can cause reproductive harm and also notate a fire risk with this chemical. While the current OSHA status indicates Ensulizole is not considered hazardous, this chemical has not been proven to be safe either. If the consumer wishes, avoidance of these chemicals is possible just by reading the ingredients lists to inform themselves and choose.
There is no perfect sunscreen or sunblock. Chemical free versions can give a white or chalky look particularly when applied carelessly or without a mirror. People of all skin colors and ethnic backgrounds are usually hesitant to use physical sunblocks because of the possibility of having a white cast on their skin. However, chemical based versions can also have this same effect if physical sunblocks are in the product as well.
Chemical sunblocks and sunscreen ingredients can potentially cause more harm than good. It is recommended that users completely wash off chemical based sunscreens. The best advice is to inform yourself, choose something that suits your needs, avoid the sun, and take care to ensure you are counteracting the lack of vitamin D that can occur if you are actively avoiding the sun. However, to create vitamin D, we only need about 15 minutes of sun daily. This is easily surpassed several times over daily by many people by simply doing activities such as commuting to and from work or school, sitting near windows, outdoor activities, running errands, etc. Because this minimum is so easily surpassed by many on a daily basis, we need sunscreen/sunblock to protect our skin from damage caused by the sun's harmful rays.
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Environmental Working Group
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Environmental Working Group (EWG) works to protect kids from toxic chemicals in our food, water, air and the products we use every day. We use research to help create federal policies that protect our children, our health, and our natural resources.