Recent developments into research into the long-term effects of chemicals on the planet and the human body have seen a shift away from the use of plastics and chemicals. Organic is the new buzz-word and people aren’t just making the switch for the image associated with it, but also for the plethora of good health benefits. These days there are chemicals in your water, in your hair products, in your processed foods, in the containers they are stored it, in your make-up, in your cleaning products, and in your clothing and laundry detergents.
Twenty, ten or even five years ago, many of the effects from chemicals we come into contact with everyday were not well known or understood. Today is a different story and the younger generations need to be aware of the implications of regular exposure to toxic chemicals because of the potential harmful side effects. Here are some that you should be aware of:
Bisphenol A – Also known as BPA, Bisphenol A is used to make most plastic and epoxy resins. It is also used as a liner on tinned foods. The problem with BPA is that is exhibits estrogen like properties so your body thinks it is a natural hormone and absorbs the chemical. This can cause cancer, neurological and physical disabilities. Because of this the use of BPA has been banned in some plastics in both the European Union and Canada. Unfortunately that is not the case here in Australia.
You have probably noticed a trend with people who no longer use plastic drink bottles, preferring to drink from stainless steel or glass containers instead. Heating food in plastic in a microwave (or even using a microwave in general) is being more often discouraged, and even storing food in plastics in no longer considered to be perfectly safe. Many people are opting out from eating tinned foods as well because of the BPA in the lining. BPA is not the only nasty chemicals contained in plastics, but it is one of the more toxic.
Another chemical endocrine disruptor with links to the occurrence of cancer, Parabens are widely used as a preservative in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Used primarily for their bacterial and fungicidal properties, these chemicals can be found in hair shampoos, moisturizers, topical pharmaceuticals, makeup, salon cremes, toothpastes, personal lubricants and shaving gels. Some recent studies indicate that when applied topically to the skin, some parabens react with UVB, increasing skin aging and damaging DNA. Many professionals including hairdressers, make-up artists and naturopaths refuse to use products containing parabens due to the dangers. To them the benefits of using such products don’t outweigh the associated risks.
Ella, a stylist at Unsurpassable, an award-winning hair salon in Brisbane had a lot to say when asked about parbens and the product lines they use at the salon. “We try and stay away from chemical products as much as possible. Too many shampoos, hair conditioners and other cosmetic and salon products contain a plethora of chemicals that can’t be good for your skin. By using organic products and limiting our exposure, not only do we get better results but we also keep the hair naturally healthier over the longer-term.” Ella noted that there had been a shift among her hair salon clients and the general populous in Brisbane, away from chemical products as awareness of their dangers increased.
Almost all bug sprays contain DEET a chemical containing Toluene which is a nervous system depressant. Did you really think those sprays that are so deadly to insects wouldn’t have any affect on you? Insect repellants also often contain this poisonous chemical.
DEET is so toxic that some countries have banned its usage in products above certain concentrations. Here in Australia however, no such laws exist. Keep this in mind next time you spray those ants of cockroaches, or put repellant on your skin to keep away those mosquitoes. After spraying any bug, leave the room for at least half an hour and make sure it is aired out sufficiently. Remember the chemicals in DEET linger on for much longer than you can smell them!
There are currently many safer alternatives to DEET based repellants. In studies conducted at the University of Florida, lemon eucalyptus lotion was found to be extremely effective in repelling insects, as was citronella. These are just a few of a number of alternative repellants available, all of which are almost certain to be less toxic to you than anything containing DEET.
These are just a few examples of the huge range of dangerous chemicals you come into contact with on a regular basis. While you can’t escape from them all, you can make a difference to your health by staying away from them as much as possible and limiting your exposure. If everybody stopped buying products containing such chemicals, it would no longer be profitable to manufacture them! So next time you’re out shopping, think about buying organic and staying away from nasty plastics and chemicals. Not only will you be doing yourself and your family a favour, but you’ll be helping to make our world a nicer place to live.