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Wellness Journalism: The Toxicity of Our City- Part II

Posted Apr 09 2010 2:35pm
After a long day, you finally get home. Time to relax, take a shower, and wash the wear and tear of the day from your body, right? Er—no, actually, because you are in fact washing your body with toxic chemicals. Whoops.

If you are shopping at a popular venue such as CVS, Vons, Bath and Body Works, or Target, almost every product on the shelf contains chemicals that your body cannot recognize or use in any helpful way. The body will never grow accustomed, immune, or otherwise impervious to them because they are completely foreign. Instead, the body must suffer the taxing effects of such chemical slatherings. For example, Herbal Essences tries to look natural, but flip it over and read the ingredients—then tell me whether you think “Methylisothiazolinone” actually qualifies.

Unless you’ve already made the switch to truly natural products, I gaurantee that something you are applying to yourself contains harmful elements . Here are some of the most common
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) irritate the skin in concentrations of as little as 0.5%, according to the American Toxicology Report. When the concentrations in soaps and shampoos exceed 10-30%, SLES and SLS cause severe skin irritation and corrosion. These compounds are added to soaps, shampoos, detergents and even toothpaste because they are a known foaming agent, and we like bubbles. But in clinical studies, SLES and SLS are linked to direct damage to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children, and liver toxicity. The FDA reports that shampoos with SLES and SLS cause eye irritation, scalp irritation, and swelling of the hands, face, and armpit. These chemicals are also listed as: lauryl ether sulfate, sodium salt, or polyethylene glycol.
  • Phthalates, found in synthetic fragrances, are endocrine disrupters that have been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, and immune system and organ damage. If a product’s list contains the word fragrance (rather than pure essential oils), that product probably contains phthalates.
  • Propylene glycol is linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies, and skin irritation. It is often found in lotions, creams, cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, and deodorants. It may also be listed as: 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 2-hydroxypropanol, methylethyl glycol, 1,2-propanediol, or propane-1,2-diol.
  • Parabens, used as preservatives in a wide variety of body care products, are linked to cancer, developmental toxicity, and reproductive damage. They may also be listed as: 4-hydroxy-benzoic acid, p-carboxyphenol,or p-salicyclic acid.
  • Mineral Oil is a petroleum derivative that has been linked to cancer, organ system toxicity, and immunotoxicity. It is also listed as paraffin and petrolatum.
  • Oxybenzone, widely used in sunscreens, is linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive damage, allergies, and cell damage. It may also be listed as: benzophenome-3, 2-benzoyl-5-methoxyphenol, or phenylmethanone.

Happily, nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to buy popular, commercialized product brands. You can choose to buy natural and organic products at your neighborhood health food store. Websites such as The Green Guide and Green Home provide lots of product information for home and body. Retrofit your world!
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