A World Of Chemicals. How You Can Limit Your Exposure.

Lets face it, everyday whether intentional or not our bodies are exposed to dozens and dozens of unique chemicals. Some are avoidable, some are not. When I think about my own personal life, sadly I start every single day dosing my body with chemicals. Unfortunately, this I cannot avoid and I’m ok with it. These chemicals are my lifeline and without them I would eventually die. They are my thyroid replacement pills and because I have no thyroid to produce the needed hormone I do not have an option. While there are some things  that are out of our control there are many things we can control. Listed below are some common chemical exposures in everyday life that can be modified to limit the amount that inevitably make it into our bloodstream. Yes, I said bloodstream.  Any chemical inhaled, slathered, eaten, touched etc…eventually makes it to our bloodstream and organs. While researching for this post what surprised me the most were “off gases” particularly the whopping 275+ chemicals that continually off gas from the plastic components of new vehicles 😦 

“Immediately after delivery, new vehicles have been found to be universally contaminated with very high concentrations of a large number of chemicals that diffuse from interior vehicle materials. Over 275 different chemicals have been identified in vehicles interiors, including chemicals associate with birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. Automobiles are unique and harsh environments for plastics. Air temperature extremes of 192 F (89 C) and dash temperatures up to 248 F (120 C) have been observed in vehicles. These extreme temperatures can increase the concentration of VOCs and high levels of sunlight producing breakdown products which can also be harmful to human health”.  Source:http://www.healthystuff.org/findings.021512.cars.php1. 

 

Welp….I was considering a new car in the near future. Not anymore. According the environmental working group your best option here (aside from riding horse and buggy style….haha) is to purchase a few year old vehicle as most of the off gases have already diffused. So what are some of the other chemicals, where are they found and what can you do to mitigate their effects on your body?” Heres a list for your reading pleasure. 🙂

1. Phthalates

  • Endocrine Disruptors-Linked with early puberty in females which is a risk factor for breast cancer later in life. 
  • Commonly found in #3 plastics and personal care products. Often disguised as “fragrance” on labels.
  • To minimize exposure never microwave plastics, use glass. Avoid vinyl flooring, PVC shower curtains and piping as well as products containing “fragrance”

2. Bisphenol (BPA)

  • Endocrine Disruptor- Linked with breast cancer development, miscarriage, erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
  • Commonly found in #3 and #7 plastics, canned foods & receipt paper.
  • To minimize exposure never microwave plastics, use glass. Avoid canned foods, use fresh or frozen when possible or better yet preserve your own! FYI Eden organic foods offers BPA free canned veggies 🙂 Wash your hands after touching receipt paper, or have the receipt emailed to you.

3. Chlorine (I admit, this is a tricky one to avoid….) 

  • Commonly used as a disinfectant in municipal water. Its toxic, even at low concentrations. Studies have linked chlorine exposure through drinking with an increased risk of heart disease, allergic reactions, miscarriages, bladder, colon and rectal cancers.
  • To minimize purchase a whole house filter to filter out chlorine and other chemical components in your water. If this is not an option, you can purchase an under the sink water drinking water filter for about $150 and a shower head chemical filter. Activated charcoal filters work too!!

4. Perflurochemicals (PFCS)

  • Teflon, Scotchguard, Stainmaster, Gore-tex are common PFCS. PFCS are also found in fast-food wrappers, inside pet food bags, and microwave popcorn bags. 
  • Associated with low birth weight babies, reduced immune function, abnormal thyroid hormone levels and liver inflammation.
  • To minimize avoid stain treatments on carpets and furniture. Don’t use non stick pans. Pop popcorn the old fashioned way-avoid the bags. Choose natural and organic personal care items. 

5. Pesticides & Fertilizers

  • Known carcinogens. This means they are known to cause cellular changes within the body that are consistent with the development of cancer. Basic rule, if it kills weeds or insects its killing you as well. Children and fetuses are particularly susceptible. In addition, these chemicals seep into our water system and are also highly devastating to wildlife, especially birds. Most birds eat insects and seeds from plants, if these plants have been treated with an insecticide the plant itself is toxic, as well as the insects that have come in contact with the chemical. The birds ingest the seed or insect (or feed it to their young) and inturn they are poisoned.
  • To minimize exposure. Please don’t spray your house, lawn or flowers. If you let nature do its job, it’ll take care of itself in time. This is something I have to repeatedly tell myself (especially when we have spiders in the house) but i’ve learned that its part of a working eco system and I have learned that chemical warfare against harmless spiders is silly.  Also buy organic when possible or better yet- grown your own veggies responsibly 🙂

6. Formaldehyde

  • Commonly found in melamine plastics, cigarette smoke, pressed wood products, and building materials. Exposure increases risk of brain cancers and leukemias.
  • To minimize exposure use “exterior grade” pressed wood products in the home and be sure to ask the retailer about the formaldehyde content in their products (plywoods, paneling, particle board, fiberboard, furniture and cabinets). Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to second hand smoke. Don’t purchase melamine plastics, but if you do, avoid microwaving them. 

7. Parabens

  • We’ve heard much about these lately in the media. Commonly found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Parabens mimic estrogens and measurable concentrations have been found in breast tumors. Also, new research has shown that methyparaben found in some sunscreens reacts with the sun and actually can cause cellular damage to the skin. 
  • To minimize exposure avoid products that contain the word “paraben” (usually at the end of an ingredient like methylparaben). Use mineral based sunscreen (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) avoid sunscreens with chemical components such as oxybenzone. 

8. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) & Polybrominated Bipenyls (PBBs).

  • These are two of the chemical off gases i’d talked about earlier in new vehicles. In addition to new vehicles (the most common source) these chemicals are also found in electronics, foam cushions and textiles. They are flame retardants. 
  • These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors that can alter a childs brain development. Research has also found linkages to decreased thyroid hormone levels and reproduction abnormalities in children exposed to off gases.
  • To minimize exposure buy vehicles that are a few years old. Use covers that limit the amount of off gas exposure and avoid using styrofoam. 

Well, as you can imagine this is certainly not an exhaustive list. The main purpose of this post was to alert you to some chemicals that you may not know about and to provide you tips on what you can do to minimize exposure. I hope i’ve enlightened you in some way. I’ve certainly learned a lot myself and plan on making some changes. 🙂

Resources:

http://www.lung.org

http://www.breastcancerfund.org

http://www.healthystuff.org/findings.021512.cars.php

http://www.epa.gov

http://www.ewg.org

 

One thought on “A World Of Chemicals. How You Can Limit Your Exposure.

  1. excellent blog! Thank you for helping to spread the word and make people more aware of the chemical dangers in their daily lives! Unfortunately its a scary world out there 😦

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