The Pervasiveness of Toxic Petrochemicals in Household Products and How to Avoid Them
It may come as a surprise that your fragrant body wash, baby’s diapers, or lovely scented candles are actually filled with toxic petrochemicals. These include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, phthalates, and countless others. Many are potentially carcinogenic, some disrupt hormone production, and some haven’t been tested to ascertain their safety. The Environmental Protection Agency even lists some petrochemicals on its hazardous waste list.
The personal care industry is one that most deviously sneaks pertrochemicals into their products under the label of”fragrance.” The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported:
A rose may be a rose. But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer.
Laboratory tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and analyzed by the EWG revealed the following:
- The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label.
- Many substances have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.
- Researchers associated some of the chemicals with hormone disruption and allergic reactions.
- The research identified several chemicals with troubling hazardous properties.
Legal Loophole Keeping Consumers in the Dark
Historically, manufacturers of personal products needed to protect their secret formulas for each particularfragrance product. They typically made these fragrances from flowers and oils, but today, manufacturers are using the same reasoning to hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals under this one ingredient.
“Fragrance secrecy is legal due to a giant loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, which requires companies to list cosmetics ingredients on the product labels but explicitly exempts fragrance,” reports EWG.
It is difficult for consumers to make informed decisions about what they are buying due to lack of proper disclosure and education. As a result, we are inhaling, ingesting and absorbing these chemicals on a daily basis.
How to Avoid Petrochemicals
In addition to fragrant personal care products, many household items contain petrochemicals. These include most cleaning supplies, detergents, food packaging, carpeting, even bedding and mattresses. In addition, they are found in toys, plastics, paint, building materials, and more.
Although not all petrochemicals are toxic, some certainly are. Hence, it is best to avoid them whenever you can. Here are some strategies to reduce your exposure to petrochemicals.
First and foremost, buy as much organic as you can. This includes organic produce instead of packaged foods, to reduce the amount of packaging you buy. As well, there are now many organic personal care products, organic pillows, organic mattresses, and all sorts of organic cotton products.
Another way to avoid toxic chemicals is to make your own personal care products. For some simple DIY beauty products, check out: Simple Aloe Vera DIY Recipes for Hair and Face Care; and Avoid Toxic Chemicals on Your Hair and Skin with These 3 Easy DIY Recipes.
When it comes to household cleaners and detergents, you check the quality of your products in EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. This guide rates the “cleanliness” of most laundry, dish and all-purpose products. As per EWG’s guide, there are some great brands out there today that make products with very few toxins. These include Seventh Generation, Green Shield, and Dr. Bronner’s.
Additionally, instead of buying so many household products with chemicals, you can start using more vinegar, which is a perfect ingredient for home-made cleaners and deodorizers. Baking soda is another great ingredient in many DIY products. Moreover, EWG ranks Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Heinz Distilled White Vinegar on its A-lists.
Please share in the comments section any other ideas, products and DIY recipes that have helped you reduce your exposure to potentially-harmful pertrochemicals.
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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