Everyday Toxic Chemicals That Could Put Your Life At Risk!
There are toxic chemicals in every product we use, so much that we’re in contact with chemicals right from the moment we wake up in the morning. Let’s take a look at how many chemicals we come across in our daily routine, starting from the time we brush our teeth in the morning.
Cleaning up in the morning…
There are at least two known carcinogens in your toothpaste: sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and triclosan. Even the fluoride that the manufacturers boast of in advertisements actually does you more harm than good. Already banned in several countries, fluoride in large doses can cause paralysis and muscle weakness in adults and death in children.
Propylene glycol and butylene glycol are common ingredients found in facial cleansers, and also in windshield wiper fluid! Check if your cleanser has this as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers them toxic enough to evoke brain, liver and kidney damage upon inhalation and contact with the skin.
Alternative: Opt for organic toothpastes and facial cleansers which are easily available at organic healthcare stores, even though they may be priced slightly higher.
Stuck in the traffic jam to work…
Polybrominateddiphenyl ethers (PBDE) and phthalates are often used as fireproof material and plastic softeners in seat cushions, armrests, plastic parts and floor coverings. You’re possibly inhaling these each day on the commute to work which only gets worse when the sun comes up. When triggered by heat and UV light, more of these chemicals are released into the interior of the car, exposing passengers to liver toxicity, birth defects, premature births and impaired learning.
Alternative: While there aren’t any ‘organic cars’ made yet, the only things we can do is to minimise the damage by increasing the ventilation of the car interior and avoid parking in the sun whenever possible.
At the office…
It is freezing cold at the office and our face and hands are dry. Out comes the tube of moisturiser and hand lotion, which contain a whole lot of additives such as propylene glycol, lanolin and triethanolamine. These serve to lock moisture in and create a smooth liquid film on the skin but they can cause allergic reactions, dermatitis and mess with the immune system. Then, there is also polyethylene glycol and polysorbate 60 and 80, all of which could be contaminated with the cancer-causing agent 1,4-dioxane.
Alternative: Check your product labels if they contain any of the ingredients mentioned above. It is advisable to get your moisturising products from an organic store where you’d also find the plant-based cocoa butter and shea butter which are safer options for your hands.
Kuey tiao and bee hoon
You and your colleagues decide to head to the hawker stall today for a meal of char kuey tiao and laksa. In your kuey tiao are sodium benzoate, lye and borax, added as a preservative and to give you a firmer and chewier bite of the noodle. The bee hoon in your laksa isn’t much safer either. The bee hoon has been bleached with benzoyl peroxide and chlorine dioxide for a whiter and more attractive colour. All these chemicals have the potential of causing liver cancer, corrosion of the tissues, low blood pressure, diarrhoea, nausea, rupture of the colon and convulsions.
Alternative: It is quite difficult to choose your noodles if you are eating out but if you are buying to cook at home, check the condition of the kuey tiao. If its expiry date is still a long way to go, then you’d know you shouldn’t buy that kuey tiao which is laden with preservatives. If you are buying bee hoon instead, look out for potassium or calcium sorbates which are safer bleaching agents. Or simply, buy the bee hoon with the darkest colour. The brown colour of the noodles doesn’t mean that it isn’t fresh; it just means that less bleaching agent was used.
After that meal in a stuffy coffee shop, you’d now want a cup of bubble tea to take back to the office with you. The recent hooha about the presence of DEHP, a plastic component, in bubble tea has died down but just be wary in case it should resurface. There are definitely other chemicals in the powder and syrups used to flavour the tea too although the side effects have not be ascertained yet. Let’s just hope the effects are not as damaging as DEHP’s, which include cardiotoxicity, obesity and deformation of the male reproductive organs in newborns.
Alternative: If you’re craving for something cold and sweet, opt for fresh teas or fruit juices instead, unless you’re certain that the chemicals in the bubble tea would do you no harm.
Time to head home!
Unfortunately, the first thing you have to do when you reach home is laundry. Many liquid brands contain 1,4-dioxane, an ingredient which could potentially give you cancer. Common ingredients in powdered detergent include naphthalene, phenol, ammonia and ethanol. Increased exposure to these chemicals can lead to hormone disruption, allergies and irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system. Naphthalene is even touted to be another carcinogen.
Alternative: You can make your own detergent but that would be quite a hassle, so alternatively you could hop to the organic store and get your cleaning supplies from there. If not, choose a detergent that is free of the above mentioned chemicals.
The washrooms smell, so you whip out a can of air freshener, spray the liquid into the air and inhale the lovely-smelling mist deeply. Along with the fragrance, you have taken into your lungs some terpenes, phthalates and formaldehydes. All three ingredients are well-known carcinogens and spraying them into the air for the family to inhale is certainly a bad idea.
Alternative: Many natural alternatives are available, ranging from potpourris to essential oils to the humble pandan leaf.
With all the chores done, it is time to spend time with the spouse and kids. You pick up some toys and pass them to your kid. Unbeknown to you and very scarily enough, the toy could contain some of the most toxic chemicals ever added as a dye or to make plastic. The words lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and chlorine would surely trigger your alarm. All five chemicals have carcinogenic effects with lead also causing damage to the kidneys and nervous system while arsenic leads to cardiovascular diseases, blood disorders and hormone disruption. Mercury, cadmium and chlorine are not much less hazardous too, with potential of causing thyroid disorders, brain impediment and even death.
Alternative: There are already organic toys in the market or go for toys which are made of cloth or other materials as these seem to be safer alternatives.
These are just some of the most frequently used products in your daily routine. There are many more with varied additives inside, all waiting to harm you. Do some homework and look up those ingredients if you think there lies more behind that long scientific name. If there are detrimental effects, it is time you switch to a more natural or organic alternative.