Poison Bottles



Family Health Maintenance

Hygiene/Bath Essentials

Moms' Corner

Under the Sink, Over the Bath, and in the Laundry,--Natural Product Alternatives

Dangers of Plastics

Words to Live By

Who We Are

Recommended Reading


Life isn't about keeping score.
It's not about how many friends you have, or how accepted you are.
Not about if you have plans this weekend
or if you're alone.
It isn't about who you're dating, who you used to date,
how many people you've dated,
or if you haven't been
with anyone at all.
It's not about sex,
It isn't about who your family is
or how much money they have,
or what kind of car
you drive.
Or where you were sent to school.
It's not about how beautiful
or how ugly you are.
Or what clothes you wear,
what shoes you have on,
or what kind of music you listen to.
It's not about if your hair
is blonde, red, black, or brown.
Or if you skin is too light or dark.
Not about what grades you get,
how smart you are,
how smart everybody else thinks you are,
or how smart standardized tests say you are.
It's not about what clubs you're in
or how good you are at "your" sport.
It's not about representing your whole being on a piece of paper
and seeing who will "accept
the written you."

Life just isn't.
But, life is about who you love and who you hurt.
It's about who you make happy or unhappy purposefully.
It's about keeping or betraying trust.
It's about friendship,
used as a sancity or a weapon.
It's about what you say
and mean,
maybe hurtful,
maybe heartening.
About starting rumors and contributing to petty gossip.
It's about what judgements you pass
and why.
And who your judgements are spread to.
It's about who you've ignored
with full control and intention.
It's about jealousy,
and revenge.
It's about carrying inner hate and love,
letting it grow,
and spreading it.
But, most of all,
it's about using your life to touch
or to poison
other people's hearts in such a way
that could have never occured alone.
Only you choose the way those hearts are affected,
and those choices
are what life
is about.

--Author Unknown.

Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products

Kidsorganics presents a modified excerpt from 7th Generations' "Guide to a Toxic-Free Home", which can be found at www.seventhgeneration.com.

The chemicals listed in this section are by no means complete. There are thousands upon thousands of individual chemicals in products that are available for consumer use, most of which have not been adequately tested for their effects on human and environmental health. This list is a brief summary of some of the more frequently encountered consumer chemicals that, in our opinion, should not be used in any product, especially and most critically those marketed as "environmentally responsible." The list contains chemicals whose effects on human and environmental health are sufficiently hazardous to preclude their use under any circumstances.

While you may use this list as a general guide to selecting products and ingredients, individual purchasing decisions should be made on an as-thorough-as-possible analysis of the productís specific ingredients, which may or may not appear on this list.

By the same token, while each entry has attempted to include as complete a list as possible of the types of household products that might contain the chemical or class of chemicals in question, it is possible a particular ingredient may be found in product types not mentioned here.

Unless otherwise noted, the term "synthetic" refers to chemicals made from petroleum. Synthetic chemicals are generally undesirable. In addition to any specific local health or environmental impacts the use of a synthetic may cause, they are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource whose extraction, refining and transportation can cause major environmental degradation. Manufacture of synthetics is also often an energy intensive process that may introduce a variety of toxic chemicals into air and water. Many do not readily biodegrade and thus bioaccumulate in the environment.

As you begin, a word of encouragement is in order. There are over five million known chemicals. Each must have its own name so scientists can differentiate between them. As a result, chemical names tend to be long and difficult to pronounce. Donít be intimidated by names or pronunciations. Unfortunately, most chemicals also have more than one name. Some even have 10 or more! If you choose to do your own research, try using the system of CAS (chemical abstract services) numbers to help eliminate confusion.

If a productís ingredients are not fully and completely disclosed on its label, we strongly recommend avoiding that product.

The Unacceptable Chemicals

Alcohol isopropyl (also called propanol, isopropanol, rubbing alcohol): This is a petrochemical. Skin exposure can cause itching, redness, and rashes in some people. This chemical has not been adequately evaluated to determine whether brain or other nerve damage could occur with repeated exposure. However, many solvents and other petroleum based chemicals have been shown to cause such damage. Effects may include reduced memory and concentration, personality changes (withdrawal, irritability), fatigue, sleep disturbances, reduced coordination, and/or effects on nerves supplying internal organs (autonomic nerves) and/or nerves to the arms and legs (weakness, "pins and needles"). There is an increased risk of cancer associated with the manufacturing of Isopropyl Alcohol. Isopropyl Alcohol is a flammable liquid and a fire hazard.

Alkanol amines:(also monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, triethanolamine). A class of synthetic solvents that are precursors to the carcinogen diethanolnitrosamine.

Alkyl aryl sodium sulfonates: (See Alkyl benzene sulfonates [ABS])

Alkyl benzene sulfonates: or ABS (also linear alkyl benzene sulfonates or LAS, linear alkyl sodium sulfonates). A class of synthetic surfactants (see Surfactants below for more information). ABS are very slow to biodegrade and seldom used. LAS, however, are the most common surfactants in use. During the manufacturing process, carcinogens and reproductive toxins such as benzene are released into the environment. While LAS do biodegrade, they do so slowly and are of low to moderate toxicity. LAS are synthetic. The pure compounds may cause skin irritation on prolonged contact, just like soap. Allergic reactions are rare. Because oleo-based alternatives are available, LAS should not be used. Found in: Laundry detergents (usually identified as "anionic surfactants").

Alkyl benzyl sulfonates: (See Alkyl benzene sulfonates [ABS])

Alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols: (also nonyl phenoxy ethoxylate or nonyl phenol). This is a general name for a group of synthetic surfactants (see Surfactants below for more information). They are slow to biodegrade in the environment and have been implicated in chronic health problems. Researchers in England have found that in trace amounts they activate estrogen receptors in cells, which in turn alters the activity of certain genes. For example, in experiments they have been found to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and feminize male fish. One member of this family of chemicals is used as a common spermicide, indicating the general level of high biological toxicity associated with these compounds. Found in: Laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners, hard surface cleaners.

Aluminum: Aluminum is found in the form of cookware, foil, foods, antacids, drinking water and personal care products like anti-perspirants, in cooking pans, in IV solutions, and in some infant formulas. Most healthy adults can excrete aluminum in urine, to acceptable levels, however, infants and children have a tougher time doing so. The aluminum levels in all infant formulas are higher than those in human milk. The formulas containing the highest levels of aluminum are those with additives, such as calcium salts and soy protein, which contain aluminum as a contaminant. Currently, the data are insufficient to recommend against the use of specialized formulas in premature infants; on the contrary, the nutritional advantages of premature infant formulas clearly outweigh the concern about the higher concentrations of aluminum in these products.
Symptoms: Early symptoms of aluminum toxicity include: flatulence, headaches, colic, dryness of skin and mucous membranes, tendency for colds, burning pain in head relieved by food, heartburn and an aversion to meat. Later symptoms include paralytic muscular conditions, loss of memory and mental confusion.
Be proactive. Minimize additional exposure to metals, especially when concerning children. Find natural alternatives to antacids. Breastfeed, if possible.

Ammonia: Ammonia is an irritant that affects the skin, eyes and respiratory passages. The symptoms of ammonia exposure are: a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat; pain in the lungs; headache; nausea; coughing; and increased breathing rate. Ammonia adds nitrogen to the environment. In areas that cannot handle the added nitrogen, disruptions to the ecosystem will result. These include toxic effects to plants, fish and animals. Ammonia is included as a toxic chemical on the EPAís Community Right-to-Know list and the EPA has set limits on permissible levels in bodies of water. The FDA also regulates the amount of ammonium compounds in food. OSHA regulates the maximum allowable levels in the air to protect workers. Found in: window cleaners.

Amyl acetate: A synthetic grease cutter, amyl acetate is a neurotoxin implicated in central nervous system depression.Found in : Furniture polishes.

Anionic surfactants:(See alkyl benzene sulfonates)

Aromatic hydrocarbons: A class of synthetic compounds used as solvents and grease cutters, these are members of the carcinogenic benzene family of chemicals. Though not all are carcinogenic, aromatic hydrocarbons should nonetheless be considered hazardous. Aromatic hydrocarbons also contaminate air and groundwater. (They cannot easily evaporate underground and little biological activity exists there to cause them to biodegrade.) Found in: Heavy-duty degreasers, deodorizers.

Artificial fragrances: Artificial fragrances are made from petroleum. Many do not degrade in the environment, and may have toxic effects on both fish and mammals. Additionally, they often can cause allergies and skin or eye irritation.

Artificial colors: Artificial colors are made from petroleum, though some are made from coal. Many do not degrade in the environment and also have toxic effects on both fish and mammals. They do not serve any useful purpose. Additionally, they often can cause allergies and skin or eye irritation.

Benzalkonium chloride: A synthetic disinfectant and bacteriacide, this chemical is biologically active (meaning it can negatively affect living organisms). The widespread indiscriminate use of bacteriacides is also now causing the emergence of new strains of bacteria that are resistant to them. Benzalkonium chloride, and other synthetic disinfectants, should be avoided for these reasons. Found in: Spray disinfectants, disinfecting cleaners, disinfecting hand soaps and lotions.

Benzene: (also benzol, benzole, annulene, benzeen, phenyl hydride, coal naphtha). Made from petroleum and coal, benzene is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen, is listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant, and is on the EPAís Community Right-to-Know list.Found in: Oven cleaners, detergents, furniture polish, spot removers.

Butoxethanol: (see butyl cellosolve)

Butyl cellosolve (also butoxyethanol, butyl oxitol, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether). A toxic synthetic solvent and grease cutter that can irritate mucous membranes and cause liver and kidney damage. Butyl cellosolve is also a neurotoxin that can depress the nervous system and cause a variety of associated problems. Found in: Spray cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, abrasive cleaners.

Butyl oxitol: (see butyl cellosolve)

Caustic soda: (see sodium hydroxide)

Chlorine: (also known as hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite, sodium dichloroisocyanurate, hydrogen chloride, hydrochloric acid) Chlorine was first manufactured on an industrial scale in the early 1900s. It was used as a powerful poison in World War I. Chlorine is the household chemical most frequently involved in household poisonings in the U.S. Chlorine also ranks first in causing industrial injuries and deaths resulting from large industrial accidents. Chlorine is an acutely toxic chemical created through the energy intensive electrolysis of sea water. This manufacturing process also creates extremely toxic byproducts. Sodium hypochlorite (known as household bleach, a 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite) is a chemical precursor of chlorine and should be treated as such because any use will create pure chlorine in the environment.

In addition to its direct toxic effects on living organisms, chlorine also reacts with organic materials in the environment to create other hazardous and carcinogenic toxins, including trihalomethanes and chloroform (THMs), and organochlorines, an extremely dangerous class of compounds that cause reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders. The most well known organochlorine is dioxin. Products containing chlorine (or any of its derivatives or precursors, including sodium hypochlorite) should be considered highly unacceptable. Similarly, any chemical with "-chlor-" as part of its name, or any ingredient listed as "bleach," should be considered unacceptable as this nomenclature indicates the presence of a highly toxic and environmentally damaging chlorinated compound. Chlorine and chlorinated compounds are also a prime cause of atmospheric ozone loss. Chlorine use in the laundry also degrades both natural and synthetic fibers.

Chlorine is listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant and is on the EPAís Community Right-to-Know list. In 1993, the American Public Health Association issued a resolution calling for the gradual phase-out of most organochlorine compounds.

Found in: Scouring powders, laundry bleach, dishwasher detergent, and basin, tub and tile cleaners.

Chlorophene: (See O-benzyl-p-chlorophenol)

Cocamide DEA: (also cocamide diethanolamine, fatty acid diethanolamines, fatty acid diethanol-amides). Even though this surfactant, which is a foam stabilizer, is made from coconut oils, it is unacceptable because it contains diethanolamine. This synthetic component can react with sodium nitrate or nitrate oxides to form carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines. Found in: Dishwashing liquids, shampoos, cosmetics.

Cocamide diethanolamine: (See cocamide DEA)

Crystalline silica: Crystalline silica is carcinogenic and acts as an eye, skin and lung irritant. Found in : All-purpose cleaners.

Diammonium EDTA: (See EDTA)

Diethanolamines: (also diethanolamine, DEA, triethanolamine and monoethanolamine). A synthetic family of surfactants, this group of compounds is used to neutralize acids in products to make them non-irritating. Diathanolamines are slow to biodegrade and they react with natural nitrogen oxides and sodium nitrite pollutants in the atmosphere to form nitrosamines, a family of potent carcinogens. Found in: Personal care products and some detergents.

Dioxane: (also diethylene dioxide, diethylene ether, diethylene oxide) (not to be confused with DIOXIN). Dioxane is a solvent classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen, and some research suggests that it may suppress the immune system. Dioxane is listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant and is on the EPAís Community Right-to-Know list. Found in : Window cleaners.

Diethylene: (see Dioxane)

EDTA: (ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate). A class of synthetic, phosphate-alternative compounds used to reduce calcium and magnesium hardness in water. EDTA is also used to prevent bleaching agents from becoming active before theyíre immersed in water and as a foaming stabilizer. EDTA does not readily biodegrade and once introduced into the general environment can re-dissolve toxic heavy metals trapped in underwater sediments, allowing them to re-enter and re-circulate in the food chain. Found in: Laundry detergents.

Ethyl cellosolve: This synthetic solvent is both a nasal irritant and a neurotoxin (see Solvents). Found in: All-purpose cleaners, automotive antifreeze.

Ethylene glycol: (also ethylene dihydrate, ethylene alcohol).This synthetic solvent is highly toxic and is both a nasal irritant and a neurotoxin (see Solvents). Its vapors contribute to the formation of urban ozone pollution. Ethylene glycol is listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant and is on the EPAís Community Right-to-Know list. Found in: All-purpose cleaners, automotive antifreeze.

Ethylene glycol monobutylether: (see butyl cellosolve)

Fatty acid alkanol amides/amines: These surfactants are made by reacting an ethanolamine with a fatty acid obtained from either synthetic petroleum sources or natural vegetable oils. (Most fatty acids are produced synthetically as this method is currently less expensive.) Fatty acid alkanol amides can react with materials in the environment to form nitrosamines (see diethanolamines above). Found in: Shampoos and conditioners, liquid cleansers, and polishes.

Fatty acid diethanolamines: (See cocamide DEA)

Fluoride: The accepted concentration of fluoride in drinking water is 1 ppm. Concentrations over 2 ppm begin to be a health risk. Not much of an increase. Think about this: fluoride is more toxic than lead, and only slightly less toxic than arsenic. It is poorly excreted in the urine and is poisonous to the kidneys. Children under 6, who have not yet mastered the art of not swallowing dental products, should probably not use them, as there is enough fluoride in them to be fatal. Read the warnings on your toothpaste.
Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, author of "Fluoride: The Agine Factor", estimates that 30,000 - 50,000 people die from flouride poisoning each year. Fluoride weakens immune systems. The speed of white blood cells to migrate to areas needing repair, decreases. In some studies, research animals drinking fluoridated water exhibit genetic and chromosomal damage. "Before any disease is even noticeable, Dr. Yiamouyiannis warns, "the acceleration of the aging process by fluoride is already occurring at the biochemical level, by means of enzyme inhibition, collagen breakdown, genetic damage and/or disruption of the immune system."
Prevention: Buy toothpaste without fluoride for young children, or use a baking soda and water paste to clean teeth. Also, a well-made reverse osmosis filter system will be able to remove over 90% of dissolved fluoride in tap drinking water.

Formaldehyde: Although not common as a primary ingredient, formaldehyde is present as a contaminant in consumer household products. It is an extremely potent carcinogen and respiratory irritant and may appear as a preservative. Products containing this chemical should be considered unacceptable. Found in: Deodorizers, disinfectants, germicides, adhesives, permanent press fabrics, and particleboard.

Germicides: A broad category of usually synthetic bacteriacides. While some germicidal ingredients are natural (tea tree oil, borax), it is safe to assume that any germicide ingredient has a synthetic source until proven otherwise. For more information, see benzalkonium chloride above. Found in: Spray disinfectants, disinfecting cleaners, disinfecting hand soaps and lotions.

Glycol ethers: (See butyl cellosolve)

Hydrochloric acid: (also see chlorine and muriatic acid) A strong mineral or "inorganic" acid. In high concentrations, it is extremely corrosive. Found in: Toilet bowl cleaners.

Hypochlorite: (See chlorine)

Hydrogen chloride: (See chlorine)

Kerosene: (also mineral spirits) A synthetic distillate used as a grease cutter, kerosene can damage lung tissues and dissolve the fatty tissue that surrounds nerve cells. Mineral spirits function similarly and often contain the carcinogen benzene as an impurity. Found in: All-purpose cleaners and abrasives (use of kerosene in these product categories is rare), furniture polishes, degreaser.

Linear alkyl benzene sulfonates: (See alkyl benzene sulfonates)

Linear alkyl sulfonates: (See alkyl benzene sulfonates)

Methanol: (also methyl alcohol) A solvent derived from wood or petroleum, methanol is acutely toxic and can cause blindness. Found in: Glass cleaners.

Methyl alcohol: (See methanol above)

Mineral acids: (See hydrochloric acid)

Mineral oil: Mineral oil is a derivative of petroleum. Can cause decreased absorption of vitamin A, and vitamin K in pregnant women. It is considered both carcinogenic and tumorigenic by RTECS criteria.

Mineral spirits: (See kerosene)

Monoethanolamine: (See diethanolamines)

Morpholine: A highly toxic synthetic that can cause liver and kidney damage. While this ingredient is rare in consumer products, its extreme toxicity warrants its inclusion on this list. Found in: All-purpose cleaners and abrasives, waxes, polishes, antiseptic products.

Muriatic acid: (See hydrochloric acid)

Naphthas: (See petroleum distillates)

Napthalene: A member of the carcinogenic benzene family derived from coal tar or made synthetically. Known to bioaccumulate in marine organisms, naphthalene causes allergic skin reactions and cataracts, alters kidney function and is extremely toxic to children. Found in: Deodorizers, carpet cleaners, toilet deodorizers.

Nitrilotriacetic acid: (See NTA)

Nonyl-phenol: (See alkyl phenoxy p olyethoxy ethanols)

Nonyl phenoxy ethoxylate: (See alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols)

NTA: (Nitrilotriacetic acid) This carcinogenic phosphate substitute is banned in the U.S. As with EDTA, it can free heavy metals in the environment and reintroduce them into the food chain. NTA is slow to biodegrade. Found in: No U.S. manufactured products. However, imported products, especially laundry detergents, should be scrutinized to ensure that no NTA has escaped regulatory attention.

O-benzyl-p-chlorophenol: (also 4-chloro-a-phenyl o-cresol, chlorophene). A synthetic disinfect used in hand soaps, this is chlorinated hydrocarbon and is therefore unacceptable. Bacterial resistance hazards associated with the indiscriminate use of disinfectants (see benzalkonium chloride above for more information) can also occur with use. Found in: Hand soaps.