Friday, June 4, 2010

Death by Dior

Is it true that my Revlon Colorstay Eyeshadow can cause internal organ toxicity, is my CoverGirl Mascara really a potential cancer causing agent? Is it true that Christian Dior sunless spray bronzer can act as a neurotoxin potentially causing me neurological damage? According to the cosmetic database ( collected by the environmental working group (, yes these are potential toxicities associated with common cosmetics used by many. It doesn't stop here though, the race for a pretty face is not the only offender, also cited are hundreds of shampoos, soaps, toothpastes and personal hygiene products that contain harmful chemicals with the potential for serious and scary side effects. Beyond cosmetics cleaning products, electronics, and food are also a vector for many toxins and chemicals we ingest or are exposed to daily. Everywhere we turn today we are inundated with chemicals and toxins that wreak havoc on our health.

Seen on T.V.

Recently CNN aired an investigative report with Sanjay Gupta titled "Toxic America", highlighting five of the most common chemicals in the world and their potential health risks including cancer, sexual problems, behavioral issues and nervous system disorders, weight gain to name a few. Included in this report were BPA and Phthalates commonly found in plastics, PFOA a repellent, Formaldehyde a glue/preservative and PBDE's a flame retardant. This list of just five is exhausting enough, and can make someone feel as if they need a degree in chemical engineering just to understand...

Not Only in Your Health & Beauty Products

Furthermore, every day new reports emerge stressing the importance of eating organic foods and the prevalence of chemicals, antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides in our food. Most commonly known is the dirty dozen which lists the 12 most pesticide and chemical laden produce items including celery which may have up to 67 pesticides in it, peaches, bell peppers, spinach, and cherries to name a few.

It’s no wonder people give up on trying to avoid chemicals and toxins because they are virtually everywhere and trying to avoid these ever present nasties quickly become overwhelming. So what’s the answer? Do we use just water to wash, avoid all make-up and deodorants, eat only the food we can grow in our garden, cook in glass dishes, and throw out our microwaves? Well if you can avoid all of these lurking offenders, great but for most of us this is not realistic and finding an alternative to limiting our toxic exposure is key.

Making Simple but Good Changes

Rather than becoming the boy in the bubble or the opposite, the garbage disposal for toxins try implementing small changes that make a big difference.... Wondering where to start? Start by checking the Check your commonly used products, if they are high on the hazardous list, considering switching them out for ones that are less toxic. If it’s your absolute favorite, well than use it from time to time on special occasions and have an alternative that you use daily.

In the Kitchen

When cooking or reheating foods avoid heating in anything that is plastic if possible (especially soft plastics), when available buy products that denote BPA free and phthalate free. A key here is that if the plastic has the number 7 on the container it is made with BPA and should be avoided. Try stainless steel water bottles to carry or BPA free water containers. If you are buying new pots or pans opt for stainless steel or cast iron over teflon, if you use teflon make sure that you discard the pan if the non-stick surface is peeling. I recently took the leap of living without a microwave, inconvenient at first but now heating on the stove is a way of life.

In and Around the Bedroom

Check tags and labels on new furniture or bedding to choose ones that are formaldehyde free - formaldehyde is the same chemical used to preserve dead bodies, do you really want to lay your head on a couch sprayed with this?

At the Grocery Store

For foods, buy organic when possible or available. If your budget or location does not allow you to buy organic often then opt for produce that is on the clean list more than on the dirty dozen you can find this at Choose meats and proteins that are not fed growth hormones or antibiotics, even if not organic.

Making these changes is important for your health now, and in the future but also leaves an important question..... How do we detox our bodies from all the toxins we've already been exposed to?