Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toxic Products We Consume

In a recent published article on CNN (May 31, 2010 by David S. Martin), 5 toxics that are everywhere - protect yourself, some excellent information was given. Click on the previous link to read the entire article and help to inform yourself. In this blog post, I'm only going to highlight various points that were made so make sure you check out the entire article for the full scoop. The author of this article did some excellent research and I'm glad to see this information being written about! He gets a big thumbs up from me for what he wrote!

Through products that we use and are around on a daily basis, we encounter all of these toxic substances. From plastic bottles, storage containers, cookware and appliances to carpet, furniture, electronics and fabrics, almost every house contains at least one of these toxic substances. The article noted as well that many of these substances did not exist a century ago.

If you want to know more about many other substances in our homes, please check out Karen Logan's book, "Clean House, Clean Planet". She gives a tremendous amount of details about toxic substances that will really open your eyes. I have read and used her book in our home and we continue to rid our home of toxic cleaning supplies. Most of these substances that are toxic are really not needed but somehow in our society and culture, we have become convinced that they are.

Here are a few substances stated in the article.

1) BPA - Bisphenol A

What Is It?
Building block of polycarbonate in plastics and is used in epoxy resins

Found Where?
Water bottles, baby bottles, reusable storage containers, food cans and electronics

Exposure:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA in the urine of 93% of people tested

Health Affects:
American Chemistry Council says there are no ill health affects. A new study of Chinese factory workers with high BPA exposure showed signs of reduced male sexual function. Other research suggests a potential cancer risk and may mimic the female hormone estrogen. It may disrupt the chemical signals that regulate the endocrine system.

Regulation:
The Environmental Protection Agency views this as a "chemical of concern" but allows BPA in flexible food packaging.

To Reduce Exposure
Use stainless steel bottles or glass storage containers. If the plastic container or bottle has a number 7 on it, assume it contains BPA unless it states otherwise. Limit usage of canned vegetables. Not microwaving or putting hot liquids in BPA containers.


2) Phthalates

What Is It?
These chemicals soften plastic and bind chemicals together

Found Where?
Shampoos, hair products, perfume, cologne, vinyl flooring, food packaging

Exposure:
Absorbed into our body through personal care products. Virtually everyone is exposed to phthalates.

Health Affects:
A recent study suggests a strong correlation between phthalates and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They are considered to disrupt the endocrine system and alter male sexual development and reproduction.

Regulation:
The Environmental Protection Agency views this as a "chemical of concern" but allows BPA in flexible food packaging.

To Reduce Exposure
Avoid hair care and other personal care products that list fragrance as an ingredient


3) PFOA -- Perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C8)

What Is It?
Used to make Teflon and other nonstick, stain and water repellent products.

Found Where?
Cookware, water repellent clothing, furniture and carpets

Exposure:
By eating contaminated food cooked on nonstick pans and inhaling contaminated air.

Health Affects:
Almost everyone has PFOA in their blood. It does cause cancer in laboratory animals but according to the EPA, there is not enough research to claim it causes cancer in humans.

Regulation:
The Environmental Protection Agency views this as a "chemical of concern".

To Reduce Exposure
Use stainless steel or cast iron cookware. If using non stick software, do not overheat.


4) Formaldehyde
See Article: 5 Toxics That Are Everywhere


5) PBDEs - Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
See Article: 5 Toxics That Are Everywhere


For further reading, a website in promotion of these substances exists.

- For BPA, click here
- For Phthalates, click here
- For PFOA, click here


In the case of the websites about BPA and Phthalates, it is a little difficult to tell exactly who is behind it. It appears that it is the American Chemistry Council. While I cannot be 100% sure, I'm certain they have a vested interest in portraying this substance as a positive thing. Again, that is my guess and opinion. I do not know what interest they have in it. I'll let you decide that for yourself.

For the PFOA website mentioned above, that is put out by Dupont, makers of Teflon. Enough said in my view but again, please read and judge all information according to what is important to you and your life.

While I know people on both sides can quote study after study, I also know that many research studies are funded by the people who want certain things to be portrayed in a positive way. I'm smart enough to know that just because it is a research study, it doesn't mean what they claim it to mean. Statistics don't lie, but people sometimes twist statistics into results that favor one position over another while omitting results that are not necessarily favorable to their position. People influence research studies all the time. I'm not saying that these sites do this or does not do this. You have to be the judge of that and make those determinations for yourself. Just don't close your eyes and follow any of the information blindly.

It all comes down to adding all kinds of these "substances" whether you call them toxic or safe into our foods, our personal products and the environment around us. Do we really know what they will do? Do we really understand what life will be like in 100 or 200 years if we continue to use these products? Most likely, none of us know the answers to these questions. Am I stupid enough to think that Corporate America will never cut corners in personal safety to increase their bottom line?

I'm sure that anyone could refute any of these claims and provide the necessary feel good research or evidence one way or the other. Again, I'm suspicious of websites that don't clearly state who they are and why they devote the resources they do in promoting something that many have a legitimate concern about. Each of us have to make our own determinations as to what products we wish to use and the reasons we wish to use them. Arming yourself with as much information about the pros and cons of something is the best way you can go to make those determinations. Following a website or news report blindly, will not yield much of anything for your life except being misled and confused.


*For more articles, check out the Mind Body Thoughts Blog

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