List of chemicals that are damaging to our health that we can find in many products that we use on a daily basis in our homes
Daily usage products, or ones that are very common in our homes, such as cleaners and cosmetics, often contain chemical substances that are extremely damaging to our health. Below, we list several substances that we should try to avoid, where we can find them, and what some of their effects are:
-Triclosan: antibacterial present in soaps, mouthwashes, deodorants and toothpastes. It is not much more effective than a normal soap, and has been associated with problems such as hormonal disorders and resistance to antibiotics. It is classified as a pesticide.
-Sulphates: they are commonly added to produce foam in shampoos, detergents and gels. They are proven to be skin irritants and can be contaminated with other substances, such as dioxane, which causes cancer.
-Dioxane: carcinogenic chemical that is created when the common ingredients in cosmetics are combined. It is not classified as an ingredient because it is a pollutant created during manufacture. The best way to avoid it is to not buy products that contain sodium laureth sulphate, PEG compounds and other chemicals that end in -xinol, -oetearil, -olet and -otil.
-Polycarbonate: very frequent in baby bottles. It contains bisphenol A, a chemical that causes hormonal disorders, and that can easily penetrate the liquid contained in the bottle. It is associated with early puberty in girls, which is a risk factor in the later development of breast cancer. It can be identified with the inscription PC7 on the package on the number 7 on the recycling triangle.
-Bleaching agent: detergents and bleaches tend to contain this chemical, which is extremely harmful. Breathing in small amounts of chlorine can affect the respiratory system, irritate the eyes, skin and lungs, and is extremely polluting for the environment.
-PVC and PC plastics: they are present in packaging bearing the inscription PVC3 or PC7, respectively, or with these numbers in the recycling triangles. They contain artificial chemicals like adipates, which can easily penetrate the foods that the packaging contains, and cause hormonal disorders.
-Synthetic fragrance: this is surely the most common chemical we can find in our homes. It is used in detergents, fabric softeners, cleaning products, air fresheners, soaps, perfumes, candles, hairsprays, gels, and many more. The term fragrance or perfume on the labels of these products often means that they contain chemicals like carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and toxins.
-Parabens: extensively used group of compounds used as antifungals, preservatives and antimicrobials in creams, deodorants, lotions and other cosmetics. They are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsies of breast tumours. They can cause endocrine disorders and interfere in reproductive functions.
-Ethylene oxide: used to sterilise surgical instruments, it can be a contaminant in many cosmetic products like shampoos and body gels. It is used to regulate the impact of foaming agents, and some may be persistent. It is classified as a carcinogen.
-Lead: may be a pollutant in over 650 cosmetic products such as sunscreens, face foundations, nail polishes, lipsticks and whitening toothpastes. Lead is a neurotoxin that is associated with speaking, learning and behavioural problems. Further, it may increase miscarriages, delay puberty in girls, and reduce fertility.
Some products include labels that help us to identify which are the healthiest, environmentally friendly, locally produced, and many other indications of interest. Below, we give you a few examples:
– European Union Ecolabel: this is an official certification for products that comply with EU environmental regulations. Manufacturers of a wide range of domestic products may apply for it if they meet requirements: paints, kitchen roll, detergents, mops, etc.
–Low VOC content label (volatile organic compounds): found on many cleaning products and paints. They pollute the air and can increase respiratory problems like asthma.
– Soil Association: British non-profit organisation that promotes organic crops and health. It has over 4500 farms and properties throughout the world.
-Protected Designation of Origin, Protected Geographical Indication, Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (PDO, PGI, TSG): foods that comply with regulations of the Spanish Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs. They tend to be locally-sourced products that are hand crafted.
– Fairtrade: promotes sustainable development with fairer global trade systems that can benefit farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth. This label can be found on a wide range of products, including coffee, rice, tea, sugar, cacao, olive oil and wine.