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Breakfast for Champions
Lunch Box Ideas
Sit Down Meals
Family Health Maintenance
Fourteen Most Important Foods to Eat Organic
Under the Sink, Over the Bath, and in the Laundry,--Natural Product Alternatives
Dangers of Plastics
Words to Live By
Who We Are
In Memory of Giant Ground Sloths. In Celebration of Cottonwood Trees."
--Dedication by Connie Barlow
in her book, Green Space, Green Time.
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products,
Optical brighteners: Optical brighteners are a
broad classification of many different synthetic chemicals that,
when applied to clothing, convert UV light wavelengths to visible
light, thus making laundered clothes appear "whiter." Their
inclusion in any formula does not enhance or affect the product’s
performance in any way; they simply trick the eye. Optical
brighteners do not readily biodegrade. They are toxic to fish when
washed into the general environment and can create bacterial
mutations. They can cause allergic reaction when in contact with
skin that is then exposed to sunlight. Most optical brighteners are
given trade names which consumers are unlikely to see on a label.
Found in: Laundry detergents.
Organic solvents: A
category of solvents and grease-cutters of mostly synthetic origin
(organic in this instance refers to their petroleum origins). All
chemicals in this category are generally neurotoxins and nervous
system depressants, especially if contacted in sufficient quantity.
Found in: All-purpose cleaners, degreasers and metal
p-Dichlorobenzene, PDCB) A chlorinated synthetic of extreme chronic
toxicity and environmental concern. Paradichlorobenzene is an
endocrine disrupter and carcinogen. It does not readily biodegrade.
Found in: Mothballs and deodorizers.
Perchloroethylene: (also "Perc")
A chlorinated solvent used most commonly in the dry cleaning
process, "perc" is implicated in 90% of all groundwater
contamination. Found in: Degreasers, spot removers, dry cleaning
Petroleum-based waxes: A broad category of
synthetic waxes. Although they may appear in products like butcher’s
wax, typically these are used for polishing or waxing in conjunction
with a solvent and a spray. Once sprayed, the solvent evaporates
(creating air toxins) and leaves the wax behind as a residue.
Additionally, spraying is an inefficient way to apply a product and
ingredients that rely on it for dispersal are suspect. Found in:
Furniture polishes and floor waxes.
:(also naphthas). A broad category encompassing almost every
type of chemical obtained directly from the petroleum refining
process. Any ingredient listed as a "petroleum distillate" or
"naphtha" should be suspect as it is, firstly a synthetic and,
secondly, likely to cause one or more detrimental health or
Phosphates : A key nutrient in
ecosystems, phosphates are natural minerals important to the
maintenance of all life. Their role in laundry detergents is to
remove hard water minerals and thus increase the effectiveness of
the detergents themselves. They are also a deflocculating agent;
that is, they prevent dirt from settling back onto clothes during
washing. While relatively non-irritating and non-toxic in the
environment, they nonetheless contribute to significant
eutrophication of waterways and create unbalanced ecosystems by
fostering dangerously explosive marine plant growth. For these reasons they are banned
or restricted in many states. Products containing phosphates should
be considered unacceptable. Almost all dishwasher detergents contain
phosphates. Found in: Laundry detergents. All-purpose cleaners,
Phosphoric acid: (also
mataphosphoric acid, orthophosphoric acid). Phosphoric acid is
included as a toxic chemical on the EPA’s Community Right-to-Know
list.. It is also controlled under the Clean Air Act as an air
pollutant. OSHA regulates the maximum allowable levels in the
workplace to protect workers. Found in: Bathroom
Polycarboxylates: Similar in chemical
structure to certain plastics and acrylic compounds, these are
relatively new, synthetic phosphate substitutes. Because they are
recent additions to the consumer product chemical arsenal, however,
their effects on human and environmental health remain largely
unknown. Though tests show they are non-toxic, do not interfere with
treatment plant operation and generally settle out with the sludge
during water treatment, until further study and analysis are
conducted, use of this ingredient is not recommended. Further, they
are not biodegradable and are petroleum based. Found in: Laundry
detergents, all-purpose cleaners and dishwasher detergents.
Polyethylene glycol: (also PEG). Another type of
anti-redeposition agent, PEG is a polymer made from ethylene oxide
and is similar to some non-ionic detergents. Not considered toxic,
it takes large doses to be lethal in animals. However, PEG is slow
to degrade and is synthetic.
Propylene glycol: A
synthetic solvent much like ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol can penetrate the skin, causing liver abnormalities and kidney damage, according to Material Safety Data Sheets. However, compared to ethylene glycol, propylene
glycol is less toxic.
Quaternium 15: An alkyl ammonium
chloride used as a surfactant, disinfectant and deodorant that
releases formaldehyde, a potent toxin. Found in: Detergents,
Soda lye: (See sodium
Sodium Fluoride(See Fluoride)
Sodium hydroxide: (also lye, caustic soda,
white caustic, soda lye). Sodium hydroxide is derived from the
electrolysis of brine sea water as a co-product of chlorine. It is a
strong, caustic substance and causes severe corrosive damage to
eyes, skin and mucous membranes, as well as the mouth, throat,
esophagus and stomach. Injury can be immediate. Blindness is
reported in animals exposed to as little as 2% dilution for just one
minute. Skin is typically damaged to 0.12% dilutions for a period of
one hour. Tests with healthy volunteers exposed to the chemical in
spray from oven cleaners showed that respiratory tract irritation
developed in 2 to 15 minutes. Sodium hydroxide is included as a
toxic chemical on the EPA’s Community Right-to-Know list. It is also
a controlled substance in the workplace, and OSHA has set
limitations on concentrations in the air. Found in: Oven cleaners,
Sodium hypochlorite: (See
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (or SLFS): SLS and SLFS are eye and skin irritants. Infants and children, whose eyes are developing at a more rapid pace than adults, are more susceptible to accumulation of SLS in eye tissues. Exposure to SLS causes improper eye development in children, since it is absorbed systemically through skin.
SLS is lethal to fresh water fish at 7ppm and does not break down well in the environment.
Materials Safety Data Sheets caution workers to avoid body contact with SLS. However, this same chemical is actively put into body care and hair products. SLS and SLFS are both found in shampoo's, toothpaste, dishwashing liquids, soaps, actually, anything that produces a rich and foamy lather.
If this information isn't enough, research has shown that both of these substances may cause carcinogenic nitrates, NDELA, and dioxins to form when combined with commonly used ingredients in a single bottle of shampoo. Large amounts of nitrates, aking to eating a full pound of nitrate-laden bacon, would then be assimilated into the body with just one shampooing--(from a 1978 FDA report).
Stoddard solvent: A petroleum distillate
used as a solvent and degreaser. (See kerosene) Found in:
All-purpose cleaners and abrasives.
Surfactants: Found in: Laundry products,
all-purpose cleaners, dish detergent and dish liquids, and other
common cleaning products.
Talc: Symptoms of exposure to this compound may include eye irritation, scarring
of the lungs, shortness of breath and coughing. Massive inhalation can cause
dyspnea, tachycardia, tachypnea, cyanosis and fever. Chronic exposure can
cause heart failure. Talc can be acutely dangerous to an infant when the container tips over in a child’s face. The powder can suffocate a child, and may result in death. Long-term application of talc to the genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer in females.
Tetrasodium pyrophosphate: Basic phosphates (tetrasodium being
the more common of the two) used to reduce water hardness. (See
phosphates above) Found in: Laundry detergents, all-purpose
Titanium Dioxide: Can be absorbed through the skin. The U.S. government's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) labels the chemical "a potential occupational carcinogen." Titanium dioxide is an opaque powder that is approved for
use as a colorant in food, in drugs,
and in cosmetics. It is found in such things as prescription prenatal vitamins, (but so is shellac), sunscreens, and processed foods.
methyltrichloromethane, TCA, methyl chloroform, chloroethane). A
chlorinated solvent used for cleaning and degreasing, it is known to
contribute to depletion of stratospheric ozone and will be phased
out by 2002. Trichloroethane is listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as
a hazardous air pollutant and is on the EPA’s Community
Xylene sulfonate: Xylene is a
synthetic that, when reacted with sulfuric acid, creates a
surfactant. Slow to biodegrade in the environment and moderately
toxic. Found in: Laundry products, all-purpose cleaners, dish