Family Health Maintenance
Under the Sink, Over the Bath, and in the Laundry,--Natural Product Alternatives
Dangers of Plastics
Words to Live By
Who We Are
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
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
About starting rumors and contributing to petty gossip.
It's about what judgements you pass
And who your judgements are spread to.
It's about who you've ignored
with full control and intention.
It's about jealousy,
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
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.
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
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
Alkyl aryl sodium sulfonates:
(See Alkyl benzene sulfonates [ABS])
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").
sulfonates: (See Alkyl benzene sulfonates [ABS])
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
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.
acetate: A synthetic grease cutter, amyl acetate is a neurotoxin
implicated in central nervous system depression.Found in : Furniture
Anionic surfactants:(See alkyl benzene
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.
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 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
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
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
Butoxethanol: (see butyl
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,
Butyl oxitol: (see butyl
Caustic soda: (see sodium
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
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
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
Found in: Scouring powders, laundry
bleach, dishwasher detergent, and basin, tub and tile
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.
diethanolamine: (See cocamide DEA)
silica: Crystalline silica is carcinogenic and acts as an eye,
skin and lung irritant. Found in : All-purpose
Diammonium EDTA: (See
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
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.
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
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.
glycol monobutylether: (see butyl cellosolve)
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
Fatty acid diethanolamines: (See cocamide
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
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
Hydrogen chloride: (See
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,
Linear alkyl benzene sulfonates: (See alkyl
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
Methyl alcohol: (See methanol
Mineral acids: (See hydrochloric
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
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.
acid: (See hydrochloric acid)
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
Nitrilotriacetic acid: (See NTA)
Nonyl-phenol: (See alkyl phenoxy p olyethoxy
Nonyl phenoxy ethoxylate: (See alkyl phenoxy
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.
(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