How Safe Is Your
85,000 new chemicals have been introduced to the world. Is
it any wonder that we have seen a dramatic rise in allergies,
asthma, autism, SIDS and chronic or autoimmune diseases since that time? There is a growing consensus that
chemicals are playing a role in the incidence and prevalence of
many diseases and disorders (1). Unfortunately, not enough
time has passed since their creation to fully test all these
chemicals and take action to remove them from our environment.
We are the guinea pigs.
Our pets and
children are much more vulnerable to toxins than we adults are.
Dr. Joyce Schoemaker explains that children's high metabolic
rates cause them to require more oxygen and breathe in two to
three times as much air relative to their body size than adults
(2). They also like to play on the floor, where the
heaviest pollutants settle, and they love to put things in their
mouths. Also, children do not have fully developed systems
and cannot filter toxins nearly as well as adults can.
Pets are similarly affected (3).
Did you know
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
found air pollution levels to be two-to-five times higher inside
homes than outside, whether in rural or urban areas (4).
In Canada, more than half of all hospital visits
for children under five years of age are due to poisoning. Most
poisonings of children under the age of five occur at home,
usually from medications and household chemical products (5).
Every 13 seconds, U.S. Poison Control Centers
receive a call about someone being exposed to a poison. Forty
percent of those cases involve a child under three years of age.
According to the American Association of Poison Centers, more
than 50 percent of over two million exposure incidents each year
involve children under six years of age (6).
Over a 20-year period in America (1987-2007),
autism increased 1,500 percent, ADHD increased 400 percent,
asthma increased 300 percent and allergies increased 400
percent. One primary cause of this is the high toxic
burden we experience today (7).
In the 1970s, one-in-five people were expected
to develop cancer in their lifetime. Today, one-in-2.2 men and
one-in-2.5 women have a lifetime probability of developing
Industrial chemicals are basic ingredients in
personal care products (including cosmetics). These 10,500
chemical ingredients include carcinogens, pesticides,
reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers,
degreasers and surfactants. No safety testing is required
by the government (9).
While ingestion is the most commonly
acknowledged way for toxins to enter a body, inhalation and
absorption are actually more common and, sometimes, more harmful.
After all, your skin is your largest organ and it acts like a
What Sort Of
Chemicals Are In My Home?
Corrosive. Chlorine produces dioxins, which accumulate in
the body and do not break down. Dioxins have been linked
to birth defects, cancer, reproductive disorders and immune
system breakdowns (10).
Corrosive. May cause eye, nose and throat irritation /
damage, even to the extent of respiratory failure (11).
Combining ammonia with bleach results in toxic fumes that are
Formaldehyde: May cause eye, nose and throat irritation
/ damage; wheezing and
coughing; fatigue; skin rash; allergic reaction. May also
trigger an asthma attack. Known to cause cancer in animals
and suspected to cause cancer in humans (12).
Phosphates: Phosphates have an immediate
impact on the environment, and certainly affect human
health indirectly. Phosphates choke out aquatic life
by causing intense algae blooms in rivers and oceans alike (13).
Fragrance: Here is a perfect example of
manufacturers not being required to list ingredients.
Fragrance can be any number of 3,000 chemicals, many associated
with allergies, migraines, asthma, cancer, neurotoxicity and
hormone interference. Fragrance is used in almost every
consumer products, even "unscented" ones (to prevent the brain
from perceiving odour) (14).
The David Suzuki
Foundation has provided an excellent research article entitled
"The Dirty Dozen," specifically targeting chemicals in personal
care products (15). The American Lung
Association also has some good information on household
chemicals in cleaning products (16).
Yet another list of common chemicals in consumable products can
be found on the Labour Environmental Alliance Society's website
These links are very worth looking into, as they cover many more
chemicals than I have time to mention here.
Which Products Are
Among The Worst Offenders?
For in-depth name-dropping, read "The Dirt On
Cleaning Product Companies," published by Women's Voices For The
Earth (18). Surprisingly, the manufacturer which scored the
worst, according to their criteria, was Sunshine Makers / Simple
Green. Next came Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and
The Clorox Company.
According to toxocologist Shawn Ellis, Pledge,
Clorox Wipes and Lysol Disinfecting Spray are all nasties, with
Lysol being, by far, the worst (19).
For personal care products, the David Suzuki
foundation found that the following brands carry specific
products that are the "most loaded" with toxic ingredients: Bath
& Body Works, Clarins, Crabtree & Evelyn, Dial, Dove, Joico,
L'Oreal Kids, L'Oreal Paris, Lancome, Lubriderm, Neutrogena,
Rimmel, The Body Shop, The Healing Garden and Vaseline (20).
Does it matter
to manufacturing giants such as Proctor & Gamble or
Colgate/Palmolive whether or not their products are safe? The
truth is, they are not allowed to care. A publicly traded
company has a responsibility to its shareholders to maximize
profit. Price is the bottom line, and synthetic chemicals
are the cheapest ingredients.
Many manufacturers are introducing "green"
product lines. How green are they? Are they
manufactured in an environmentally responsible manner? Do
the new green products replace the manufacturer's existing
product lines, or are they simply an addition to them?
These questions are important if you want to determine the
thoroughness of a green product, as opposed to a company that is
simply "greenwashing" their brand, in order to capture more of
the market and increase profits.
We're glad you
asked. BC Chinchilla House has been using genuinely green,
non-toxic products for fifteen years. The products we use
are not only environmentally friendly; they are also effective,
high quality and affordable, often costing less than the grocery
store brands. We would like to help you transform your home
into a safer, healthier space without spending any new money.
It's convenient, one-stop shopping with a manufacturer you can
trust. Please let us share this information with you!
Email us for
more info. We believe that your pets, your children and
YOU are worth it!
"don't take it from us" section)
(1) The Health
Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act
(2) Joyce Shchoemaker, PhD, and Charity Vitale, PhD, Healthy Homes,
Healthy Kids (Island Press, 1991)
(3) The Enviromnental Working Group, Polluted Pets
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website:
The Inside Story
Health Canada website
(7) Kenneth Bock, M.D. in his book
Healing The New Childhood Epidemics
Free Canada website, based on Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009
Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: Why
This Matters - Cosmetics and your health
York State Department of Health: The Facts About Ammonia
(13) Labour Environmental Alliance Society
website: Toxins in Household Propducts
(14) David Suzuki Foundation: Dirty Dozen
(15) David Suzuki Foundation: Dirty Dozen
(16) American Lung
(17) Labour Environmental Alliance Society
website: Toxins in Household Propducts
(18) Women's Voices For The Earth: The
Dirt On Cleaning Product Companies
(19) CBC Marketplce
(20) David Suzuki Foundation
More info on
More info on
"Chemical Warfare Agents And Toxic Waste
Disguised As Household Cleaning Products" by Lorie Dwornick:
"Pet Articles: Toxic Foods And Household Items"