About two years ago, I came across the website, www.ewg.org. At that time, the Environmental Working Group had just finished a comprehensive study of 8 random American adults. Using blood tests specifically designed to look for over 400 different man-made chemicals, the study found up to 300+ chemicals in one specimen! Many of these chemicals are known scientifically to cause: mutations, birth defects, tumors, cancer, hormonal imbalances, hormone disruptions, organ toxicity and much more. Because the cosmetic (and personal hygiene products) industry is not regulated by the FDA or USDA, EWG has been working to raise the awareness of what they termed the “body burden”. Most recently, their efforts have raised the awareness of bisphenol-A, an estrogen copy-cat chemical that is being blamed for a host of reproductive issues, as well as that of dioxane, a particularly nasty carcinogen found in some “natural” and “organic” personal hygiene products.
EWG has compiled a user-friendly database that consumers can use to search for his or her own personal hygiene products. This database includes the ingredients of each product, as well as the known toxic effects of those ingredients and the possible harm that substance may do to your body. Whether you smear lead-containing lipstick on your lips, spike your hair with endocrine disrupting hair gel, or moisturize your skin with cancer-causing, paraben-containing lotion, all of us are unconsciously subjecting our bodies to an onslaught of toxic chemicals. EWG’s studies have concluded that many of these chemicals are bioaccumulative, meaning they are not eliminated naturally by the body, but are stored as toxins in organs and tissues that later may manifest in a number of different diseases and/or afflictions. Did you know that anything containing “fragrance” literally contains hundreds of chemicals, many of which are synthetic, including phthalates, which are known carcinogens, tetragens and mutagens?
Needless to say, since first coming across this website, I have changed all of my personal hygiene products and have convinced those around me to switch to certified organic or all-natural, plant-derived products. For instance, I don’t wear cologne (so I apologize if my odor offends!), don’t use anti-perspirant or deodorant, use non-fluoride all-natural toothpaste, and use only organic plant-based soaps. I don’t use fragrances in my detergents, don’t use air fresheners, and use all-natural, biodegradeable cleaners around the home. Many of these items are readily available at larger HEB’s, at Whole Foods, and a growing number of places. If we demand these products, the manufacturers will produce them and we will be taking steps to alleviate the Body Burden of future generations.
Already, EWG has discovered that newborns share in this burden before they are given a choice. A recent study of the umbilical cord blood from a random sampling of newborns around the country has confirmed the worst: 150+ of these chemicals have already crossed the placenta barrier and are accumulating in the fetus, even before birth. With the onset of so many new allergies, conditions, syndromes and the pandemic rise of things like attention deficit disorder and autism, doesn’t it make sense to look to the chemicals that are known to cause these problems and which we are exposing ourselves to, repeatedly, day after day? Chances are, what’s in your home and vanity cabinet are more toxic to you than the foods you eat – or try to avoid.
Better yet, make the change today – visit the cosmetic database and find out how to make your life less toxic.