Chemicals in What?!?!
Every day we talk to our patients who are working so hard to change their lives and feel better again. Gluten free. Diary Free. No prescription medications if possible. These are all great steps to take and you will start to feel better, but we're missing a piece of the wellness puzzle if we don't look at what else we are exposing ourselves too. Potentially toxic chemicals exist in the air we breathe, food we eat and products we use on a daily basis. Some of these chemicals are more dangerous than others, and some only pose a threat in large amounts or after years of exposure. It's not always easy to know for sure what's safe and what to avoid.
Over 80,000 chemicals are used in everyday products. It's impossible to escape them. For some time now there has been a growing concern that these chemicals are not safe. Around the world there is no requirement to show that these chemicals are actually safe before people are exposed to them. " We basically, in the US, consider chemicals safe until proven otherwise." Dr. Linda Birnbaum stated in a March 2015 Catalyst Home special that aired on ABC. Dr. Maryanne Demasi was investigating the safety of chemicals that are used in thousands of everyday products. Dr. Demasi focused on this question: Is there adequate regulation and testing, or are we in the midst of an uncontrolled human experiment?
The dangers of chemicals, like mercury and lead, have been well established. but less is known about other chemicals which interfere with our endocrine system. This system of glands produces hormones that regulate virtually every aspect of human health, beginning at our most vulnerable time in the womb. Our hormone system controls who we are, It controls our basic physiology as adults, but our endocrine system is essential during development. In plastics and in the lining of cans, you'll find bisphenol A, or BPA. In cosmetics, skin creams and perfumes there's phthalates. Foods sprayed with pesticides. Carpets, furniture and electronics, all infused with fire retardants. It's the chemical soup of modern life. The concern is our bodies mistake them for hormones.
One of the most researched chemicals found in plastics is BPA, which mimics the female hormone estrogen. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can act like hormones or they can interfere with hormones. If there's perturbation, including an extremely small perturbation, due to a deficiency in a hormone, an excess of a hormone or some sort of outside chemical, like an endocrine disruptor, that can have devastating consequences.
According to Dr. Bruce Lanphear in the same above mentioned ABC special, "Many of the chemicals that we're concerned about, like flame retardants, like lead, seem to be dopaminergic toxicants. They seem to disrupt the prefrontal cortex, that part of the brain that makes us most distinctly human. So that's particularly concerning to us when you start to monkey with that, that's the part of the brain that allows us to think fast on our feet, to be a CEO, to be the scientist, to have impulse control. And so if we start messing around with that, we're really dealing with a part of the brain that makes s human." The regulatory system that's been set up assumes that these chemicals are safe until proven otherwise. So what the regulatory authorities are doing, what our governments are doing, are basically saying, 'We don't have enough evidence that such and such chemical are guilty of being toxic yet. So until we have definitive evidence from laboratory, from a number of human studies, we're gonna continue to treat them as though they're innocent.' So in the end what are we doing, each time we release another chemical into the market that hasn't been sufficiently tested is we're doing this massive experiment on our children, on all of us. I think what's happening is we're waiting for that crisis.
So what can you do to minimize your exposure? If you wash your fruit and vegetables, you remove most of the residual pesticides. If you buy fresh foods instead of packaged foods, you're not exposing yourself to any contaminants that leach into your food or water. Drink out of glass not plastic. Avoid canned foods. Most importantly do your research and look at what the label says. Pure is the best. Anything that has other items labeled need to be looked into. Watch your cosmetics, lotions, hair products, EVERYTHING. Below there is a list of additives, colorings and chemicals that can be found in your everyday products.
Ammonium Persulfate- Commonly used in hair bleach and some hair dyes. It is also used in various cleaning products and as a catalyst in industrial processes. It can cause contact dermatitis and is known to evoke immune responses.
Benzoic Acid- Commonly used as a food preservative, it also occurs naturally in berries, prunes, tea, cinnamon, and cloves. It can cause acute gastrointestinal distress. It can also cause acute allergic dermatitis.
Formaldehyde-Is a highly reactive aldehyde used as a precursor in many industrial processes including the production of urea-formaldehyde foam, and adhesives used in the manufacture of plywood, and carpeting. It is also used as a disinfectant, and sterilizer. Formaldehyde is both acutely toxic, and common allergen.
Orris Root- The ground root of Iris, it is commonly used in perfumes, facial creams, and cosmetics. It is known to cause contact dermatitis.
Quinolone Yellow- Is a synthetic sulfonate green-yellow food dye used in candies, icings, soft drinks and other foods. It is also used in some cosmetics and medicinal tablets. Quinolone Yellow is one of several food dyes associated with increased hyperactivity in children and may also be associated with food intolerance.
Phenol- Commonly used as a preservative and as a disinfectant in cleaning products. It is also used as a precursor in many industrial chemical production processes. In large amounts it is a highly corrosive toxin causing dermal, respiratory, renal, and hepatic toxicity. It can also cause contact dermatitis.
Phthalic Acid Anhydride- Used as a plasticizer in the manufacture of variety of plastics, especially to impart flexibility . Exposure to phthalic anhydride can cause rhinitis, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. Phthalic anhydride reaction on human health is generally an asthma-rhinitis-conjunctivitis syndrome or a delayed reaction with influenza-like symptoms.
Protease 1/ Savinase- An industrial microbial-derived enzyme that breaks down proteins. Commonly used in laundry detergents, and other cleaners. Protease 1/Savinase can be found in the residue of clothes and result in dermatitis. It is associated with respiratory allergies.
Saccharin- A synthetic artificial sweetener used in soft drinks and other low calorie foods. Saccharin is chemically related to sulfonamides (sulfa drugs) which are known to cause allergic reactions in some patients.
Tartrazine- Is a synthetic azo yellow food dye used in many foods, such as cereals, candy, breads, instant pudding and many more foods. It is also used in a variety of cosmetics. Although reactions to Tartrazine are rare it can cause an 'intolerance/sensitivity' syndrome and has been associated with angioedema/urticaria, atopic dermatitis, and asthma.
Toluene- Used in gasoline and as a solvent in paints, adhesives, lacquers, and resins. Acute nervous system and respiratory toxin. Capable of causing allergy like symptoms.
Trimellitic Acid Anhydride- Used as a plasticizer in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other plastics, especially materials that require thermal stability such as wire coatings and other applications. Trimellitic Acid Anhydride is highly reactive and capable of haptenizing proteins resulting in allergic responses.