Everyday we interact with chemicals, some that are naturally occurring and many that are far from it. From the food we eat to the products we use for cleaning and cosmetic purposes, we interact with chemicals more than we might care to know or acknowledge.
Foods we regularly consume contain natural chemicals we need to like carbs, sugars and fats. our household contain a number of ingredients that are barely pronounceable and the drugs we take to relieve pain or discomfort are chemical compounds that are developed in a lab for the most part. Other natural chemicals we interact with are found in coal, gasoline, and wood that we often use for warmth, energy, and travel.
Acids and bases are two naturally occurring chemicals that are in our food and our bodies produce. Our stomachs utilize acids to digest our food and are highly concentrated in oranges, lemons, vinegars, and sodas. Several bases, or alkaline substances, that are found around your home include baking soda, soap, and milk of magnesia.
When it comes to cosmetics and other beauty-related products, the ingredients they contain could be more frightening than you know. Thousands of synthetic chemicals are used in cosmetic products, including your makeup, lotion, and hair products.
Many of the substances used in cosmetics can also be found in industrial manufacturing and in pesticides. This may leave you questioning the caliber of products you use on your precious epidermis.
Next time you head to the beach check out the things found in your average sunblock. Reflective matter in sunblocks typically include zinc oxide or titanium oxide.
Hair Perms, bleaching and coloring all involve a chemical reaction. Hair perms give hair that lovely wave or curl that you with straight hair might be longing for. They contain an agent known as thioglycolic acid that reacts with di-sulfur bonds in cystine amino acids. Once the process of reduction is complete, a neutralizing chemical like hydrogen peroxide, is added which reforms the di-sulfur bonds into the new configuration. Hair bleaching lightens the hair and often results in a blonde shade. The bleaching occurs through a chemical reaction between the hair’s pigment (melanin) and hydrogen peroxide giving that sun-kissed look that many long for. Hair coloring also applies hydrogen peroxide transforms the hair’s natural color, and oxidizes a polymeric reaction. This process almost permanently transforms the structure of the hair color.
Self-tanner is another beauty buffer that uses chemicals to bring visible transformation. Within the tanner, dihydroxyacetone interacts with the proteins in the stratum corneum to bring about a darker skin color. Within the process, the DHA is converted to pyruvaldehyde, which then reacts with a number of unpronounceable amino acids in your skin.
Chemically Compounded Cuisine
Our processed and packaged foods often produce a lovely color that closely mimics that of a freshly produced food, this is largely due to food dyes that fill our conveniently mass produced foods that fill the center aisles of our local grocery stores. I’m not sure if its just me, but Blue 1, Green 3, Red 40, and Yellow No. 5 do not sound like they were naturally produced by your grandmother’s garden. While these dyes offer an aesthetically pleasing treat, many have been linked to hyperactivity to cancer. Those they are typically found in candy, sodas and baked goods, they are in lipstick, blushes, and a variety of other cosmetics.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a common preservative in cereals, chewing gum and potato chips. But not only is it used in foods, it's also found in a variety of pertroleum containing and rubber products.This preservative has been closely linked to the presence of cancers in a number of studies.
Strangely named Azodicarbonamide, is a strengthening agent used to make tennis shoes, yoga mats, and bread. This isn't the only chemical found in your sandwich ends. Check out the label for more, including sodium stearoyl lactylate, potassium iodate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, and many others.
Food additive glyceryl triacetate it another on the list of strange chemicals found in our food. Your food most likely to contain it include baked goods like muffine, cakes, and cookies but is also used as a plasticizer for chewing gum and gummy candies. Another common use for glyceryl triacetate is in popular pharmaceuticals, perfume, cigarette filters and cosmetics.
Propyl gallate is a preservative that protect oily products like dried meats, chicken soup, and mayo from oxidation and souring. Like those previously listed, it has many more uses! It is used in hair sprays, mousses, and other adhesives. Propyl gallate has been classified as an endocrine disruptor that causes shifts in hormones levels. These shifts are drastic though, and can lead to delayed development and reproductive and neurological problems, according to the National Institute of Health.
Conceivably Catastrophic Cleaners
There are several ways to take steps toward detoxifying your home that are super simple and can easily improve your quality of life.
After you pick up your suits from the cleaners, remove the plastic covering and allow your clothes to air before returning them to your closet. Perchloroethylene is a solvent used by dry cleaners, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as likely to be a human carcinogen.
As mentioned in our previous blog post on green v. traditional cleaning, we emphasize the point of carefully choosing your household cleaners. If you find a word that is impossible to pronounce or ends in -paraben” this is a great indicator that toxic chemicals are inside. Using green cleaning products and paraben-free cosmetics is important. Companies like Burt's Bees, Seventh Generation, Dr. Bronners, and Eco-me are typically much greener than most.
Are you unintentionally introducing toxics into your diet? Exchange those plastic containers, canned foods (especially tomatoes) and bottles that may contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) that has been blamed for serious health risks like breast cancer and heart disease. Be sure to especially keep plastics out of the microwave and away from steaming hot liquids or foods.
Finally, be ware of parabens, para-dichlorobenzene and phthalates in your moisturizers, toothpaste, and air fresheners. Like many other previously mentioned chemicals, these also have been claimed to be carcinogens.
As you can see, chemicals—both naturally existing and those produced in labs—play an active role in each of our lives. Not only are they in our cleaning products but they also are in our food, our cosmetics and naturally occur in our bodies. Despite how we have allowed them to become so commonplace in our lives, many of these chemicals are hazardous and toxic and are worth eliminating no matter how inconvenient it may be.