Research states that our surroundings may be more dangerous than we thought. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 298 chemicals found in humans from consumer products which if allowed to build up in the body, have the potential of making us sick. (Services, 2014)
Toxins are all around us and according to research; many chemicals in everyday products, can put our health at risk by creating problems, from infertility and birth defects to certain types of diseases. Here, we shall go through a list of the 10 harmful toxins which are usually found in our common household products. (Winter, 2007)
1. Carbon Tetrachloride
Carbon tetrachloride is used to make chlorofluorocarbon propellants and refrigerants. It is also used as a fire extinguisher and as a solvent for rubber cement, soaps and insecticides etc. Carbon tetrachloride has been found in many drinking water sources and is primarily caused by the discharge from chemical plants. Many water supplies have been tainted by carbon tetrachloride which is known to cause health issues as liver problems and kidney failure. (NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, 2015)
Phthalates are used in cosmetics and personal care products which include perfume, soap, nail polish, skin moisturizers, shampoo and hair spray. For consumer products, they are used in wall paper, vinyl toys and blinds, shower curtains, food packaging and plastic wrap. As they are used in food packaging, phthalates can be consumed by humans through eating from the plastic container or wrap. Similarly, children are exposed to this when they play or chew on plastic toys. According to study, exposure to phthalates can cause some adverse effects to the reproductive system.
3. Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is exposed to humans by its use in making lightweight hard plastics and epoxy resins. It is mostly used to make plastic containers, canned foods, water bottles, reusable cups etc. Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor which means it may interfere with the production of hormones in humans.
Pentachlorophenol was commonly used as a wood preservative in the past, but is now, a restricted use pesticide. It was made unavailable to the general public after reports of its high toxicity came to light. Pentachlorophenol can be extremely toxic for humans, even from short-term ingestion or inhalation and can cause neurological, blood and liver damage along with skin irritation. Pentachlorophenol is also associated with many types of diseases. (Technology Transfer Network - Air Toxics Web Site, 2013)
Lead poisoning has made headlines over the years, but many still do not know how one may suffer from it. Lead and lead compounds can be found in paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics; and if not taken care of, can be very harmful, especially for children, as their bodies absorb more lead than adults.
6. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
Perfluorooctanoic acid is found at very low levels in the general U.S population because of its use in non-stick pans. This acid has been known to cause disease in laboratory animals. It is also known that Perfluorooctanoic Acid can stay in the human system for a very long period of time.
Triclosan is normally found in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and other household items but study shows that prolonged exposure to Triclosan can disrupt hormones and impair muscle contraction in humans and can cause liver fibrosis and illness in laboratory mice. (Heather Buschman, 2014)
Fragrances and perfumes are very commonly used and while we may enjoy their sweet smells on our skin, we are ignoring the dangers they may be causing us. Perfumes usually contain more than 300 hundred ingredients, and for many people, can be the cause of skin irritation, hand eczema, headaches, nausea, inability to concentrate, brain-fog, dizziness, convulsions, sore throat, cough, chest tightness, fatigue, lethargy, and drowsiness. Fragrances can contain up to 100 toxic chemicals in its ingredients. (DesJardins, 1997) (de Groot AC, 1997)
Parabens are most commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. Parabens have been known to act the same way as estrogen, since they have estrogen-like properties. Parabens were also detected in breast tumors, according to study. The FDA however, considers Parabens to be safe for use as long as they are listed as ingredients by companies for those who want to avoid them and if they are kept within the limit set by the FDA.
Oxybenzone is an organic compound mostly found in sunscreens. Oxybenzone is used for its ability to absorb UV-A ultraviolet rays. Research on animals showed that the chemicals in some sunscreens may cause health problems when they penetrate into the skin.
de Groot AC, F. P. (1997, February). Adverse reactions to fragrances. A clinical review. Retrieved May 5, 2015, from US National Library of Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9062742
DesJardins, A. (1997). Sweet Poison: What Your Nose Can't Tell You About The Dangers of Perfume. Retrieved May 5, 2015, from Health and Environment Resource Center: http://www.herc.org/news/perfume/sweet_poison.htm
Heather Buschman, P. (2014, November 13). The Dirty Side of Soap. Retrieved May 5, 2015, from UC San Diego Health System: http://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/pages/2014-11-17-dirty-side-of-soap.aspx
NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. (2015, February 13). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from CDC Home: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0107.html
Services, U. D. (2014). Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Atlanta: Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Technology Transfer Network - Air Toxics Web Site. (2013, October 18). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from United States Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/ttnatw01/hlthef/pentachl.html
Winter, R. (2007). A Consumer's Dictionary of Household, Yard and Office Chemicals:. ASJA Press.