Reading labels – choosing personal care products

Posted: May 20, 2009 in 1
Tags: , , ,

I had the good fortune to spend my past weekend with an environmentally conscious group of people. It is delightful to be amongst people with such an awareness. On the whole they also have an openness to new information as well so that when provided with information about chemical sensitivity they are much less defensive than the average citizen of the EARTH.

One of the days was a sunny one and since we were headed outdoors, someone took note of my fair skin and offered me some sunscreen. I always try to be careful when I get on my soapbox so I prefaced the speech with, “I understand your concern, and my husband died of melanoma cancer so i know the potential dangers of UV exposure…but…” and then I proceeded to read the list of chemicals on his sunscreen. I hadn’t even got to the word fragrance when he told me he hadn’t thought about the contents at all and that he was rather convinced that this was an issue he should think about.

We have been told we need to protect ourselves from the sun. We have been sold packets of chemicals in plastic tubes and bottles which have only recently begun to undergo testing as to their safety for our use. Just reading a label can tell us, gut instinct alone, that we don’t want or need these products. The next step is, of course, learning about them.

Here are some facts from http://www.care2.com:

In products such as perfume, shampoo, fabric softener, bleach, air fresheners, dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, soap, hairspray, shaving cream, aftershave, deodorants, nail polish remover, and more, synthetic ingredients are used to create fragrance. Many of these ingredients are toxic and can cause adverse reactions. Look for these ingredients in products containing fragrance and avoid them if you can:

Acetic acid, benzyl ester: Targets nerves and kidneys; possible carcinogen.

Benzyl alcohol: Central nervous system (CNS) depressant.

Diethyl phthalate: Possible risk of congenital malformation in the fetus; targets nerves.

Musk ketone: Increases carcinogenic effects of other materials. Remains stored in blood, fat tissue, and breast milk; crosses placental barrier.

Musk xylene: Carcinogenic in animal studies. Stored in blood, fat tissue, and breast milk; crosses placental barrier.

6-Octen-1-ol, 3,7-dimethyl: Extremely destructive to mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract tissues.

Toluene: Carcinogenic, Targets liver, kidneys, brain, or bladder. One of nine major starting materials for synthesis of fragrance chemicals. Addictive.

4-Vinylphenol: Toxic. May impair fertility. Toxic by inhalation. Respiratory and skin sensitizer.

2,6-Xylenol: Toxic. Harmful by inhalation. Material is extremely destructive to upper respiratory system, eyes, and skin. Corrosive.

Acetone: Inhalation causes dryness of the mouth and throat, dizziness, nausea, incoordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, coma in extreme cases. CNS depressant.

Benzaldehyde: Narcotic. Sensitizer. CNS depressant. May cause kidney damage and irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract, leading to nausea and abdominal pain. Do not use with contact lenses.

Benzyl Acetate: Carcinogenic. Irritating to eyes and respiratory passages. Causes systemic effects through skin. Do not flush to sewer.

Camphor: Irritant and CNS stimulant. Readily absorbed through body tissues. Irritation of eyes, nose and throat, dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.

Ethanol: EPA hazardous waste. May cause fatigue and irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations. Initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor. Causes CNS disorder.

Ethyl Acetate: Narcotic. EPA hazardous waste. Irritating to eyes and respiratory tract; headache and narcosis (stupor); skin drying and cracking; anemia with leukocytosis; and damage to liver and kidneys.

Limolene: Carcinogenic. Irritant and sensitizer. Wash thoroughly after using and before eating, drinking, and applying cosmetics. Do not inhale.

Linalool: This narcotic causes respiratory disturbances and CNS disorder and attracts bees. In animal tests, it was found to cause ataxic gait; reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression; respiratory disturbances leading to death; and depressed frog-heart activity.

Methylene Chloride: On hazardous waste lists. Carcinogenic. Stored in body fat; metabolizes to carbon monoxide, reducing blood�s oxygen-carrying capacity. Headache, giddiness, stupor, irritability, fatigue, and tingling in the limbs. Causes CNS disorder.

a-Pinene: Sensitizer. Damaging to the immune system, irritant to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.

g-Terpinene: Causes asthma and CNS disorders.

a-Terpineol: Highly irritating to mucous membranes. Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema. Excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression, and headache.

My posted comment:

A lot of these products are invented needs. For centuries our ancestors got along fine without any of them. TRY IT! Eliminating most chemical products from your life (almost anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t have recognized) is a safe bet. Then you are not buying these plastic bottles, either. You can save yourself and the planet!

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