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PET SAFE PRODUCTS

How Safe Is Your Home?

Since 1985, 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 that .....

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 cancer (8).

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 sponge.

What Sort Of Chemicals Are In My Home?

Chlorine Bleach:  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). 

Ammonia:  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 potentially fatal.

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  (17).  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).

Do Manufacturers Care?

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.

Are There Alternatives?

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!

 

References (the "don't take it from us" section)

(1)  The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act  http://healthreport.saferchemicals.org/

(2)  Joyce Shchoemaker, PhD, and Charity Vitale, PhD, Healthy Homes, Healthy Kids (Island Press, 1991)  http://www.babyzone.com/mom_dad/home_food/green_living/article/cleaning-products-illness

(3)  The Enviromnental Working Group, Polluted Pets  http://www.ewg.org/reports/pets

(4)  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website: The Inside Story  http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/insidestory.html

(5)  Health Canada website  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/indust/stay_safe-soyer_en_securite/index-eng.php

(6)  EPA website  http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/poisonprevention.htm

(7)  Kenneth Bock, M.D. in his book Healing The New Childhood Epidemics http://www.randomhouse.com/book/15383/healing-the-new-childhood-epidemics-autism-adhd-asthma-and-allergies-by-kenneth-bock-and-cameron-stauth/9780345494504/?view=excerpt

(8)  Toxic Free Canada website, based on Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009  http://www.toxicfreecanada.ca/pdf/CancerSmart_3.1_final.pdf

(9)  Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: Why This Matters - Cosmetics and your health  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/2011/04/13/why-this-matters/

(10)  EPA website  http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/historical/upload/Archived-Consumer-Fact-Sheet-on-Dioxin.pdf

(11)  New York State Department of Health: The Facts About Ammonia http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_tech.htm

(12)  EPA website  http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html

(13)  Labour Environmental Alliance Society website: Toxins in Household Propducts  http://leas.ca/Toxins-in-Household-Products.htm

(14)  David Suzuki Foundation: Dirty Dozen Backgrounder  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/downloads/Dirty-dozen-backgrounder.pdf

(15)  David Suzuki Foundation: Dirty Dozen Backgrounder  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/downloads/Dirty-dozen-backgrounder.pdf

(16)  American Lung Association website  http://www.lungusa.org/healthy-air/home/resources/cleaning-supplies.html

(17)  Labour Environmental Alliance Society website: Toxins in Household Propducts  http://www.leas.ca/Toxins-in-Household-Products.htm

(18)  Women's Voices For The Earth: The Dirt On Cleaning Product Companies  http://www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2008-Report-Card.pdf

(19)  CBC Marketplce  http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/pre-2007/files/home/cleaners/index2.html

(20)  David Suzuki Foundation  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2010/DSF-report-Whats-inside-that-counts.pdf

Further Reading

More info on chlorine: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/clguide.pdf

More info on formaldehyde: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/formaldfs08-04.pdf

"Chemical Warfare Agents And Toxic Waste Disguised As Household Cleaning Products" by Lorie Dwornick: http://www.rense.com/general19/chemical.htm

"Pet Articles: Toxic Foods And Household Items"  http://www.pets.ca/dogs/articles/toxic-foods-and-household-items/

 

Copyright © 2003-2011 Kristine Budlong.  All photos on this site are of our own chins, so please do not use them.  Website designed and maintained by Kristine Budlong.