by guest blogger Ava Anderson, safe products advocate
The new year is here! Follow these 3 steps to reduce your body’s exposure to harmful chemicals throughout 2016:
1. Skip the fragrance/parfum. The term fragrance can hide an untold number of chemicals in everything from toothpaste, shampoo, and soap to deodorant and dryer sheets. The International Fragrance Association released a list of more than 3,000 chemicals that make up synthetic fragrance. More than 75 percent of the time, as tested by the Environmental Working Group, phthalates are legally hidden in these “trade-secret” chemical concoctions. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors and have been linked to childhood neurological issues from exposure in the womb. As consumers, when using products with “fragrance” on the ingredients label, we are completely in the dark about what’s actually in that bottle, jar, or tube, so it’s best to simply avoid any products containing fragrance whenever possible.
2. Avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In 2015, studies came forward showing that low-dose exposures to endocrine disruptors really do matter. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics warned that widespread exposure to toxic environmental chemicals threatens healthy human reproduction. According to a recent New Year Times column by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, EDCs are “chemicals that imitate sex hormones and often confuse the body.” He also shares that, “this warning now represents the medical mainstream. It was drafted by experts from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the World Health Organization, Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” in addition to the United Nations. Unfortunately, EDCs are in many common household and personal care products.
Here are some of the most harmful EDC ingredients that we recommend you avoid:
- Parabens. Methyl, ethyl, isobutyl—some personal-care products may have multiple parabens.
- Triclosan. Most commonly found as the active ingredient in “antibacterial” products. In addition to being an EDC, triclosan is also shown to weaken muscles, including the heart.
- Oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate. And others—”active ingredients” in sunscreens that rely on chemicals rather than barriers to protect against the sun.
- Phthalates. These scent carriers are often legally hidden in “fragrance”—see #1.
- Siloxanes. A group of EDC chemicals derived from silicone, these are often found in cosmetic and hair products.
3. Ditch 1,4-dioxane. This carcinogenic contaminant is created as a by-product when common ingredients are mixed during the manufacturing process. In the U.S., contaminants like this do not have to be listed on the label, so be sure to avoid these ingredients, which may create 1,4-dioxane:
- SLS, or sodium laureth sulfate
- PEG, or polyethylene glycol compounds
- Chemicals that include or end in -xynol, ceteareth (usually followed by a number), and oleth (usually followed by a number).
At the age of 15, Ava Anderson launched her safe line of personal care and home-cleaning products, Ava Anderson Non Toxic. Now in college, Ava is educating millions of American families annually on the issue of toxic chemicals in products through her line, which now includes baby, skin, hair, body, cosmetics, men’s, candles, bug, home, sun, pet, kids, garden, smile, and auto products. An undergrad at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Ava actively helps run her large company with more than 80 employees and thousands of Ava Anderson Consultants nationally. Her goal is to force a paradigm shift on the issue of toxic chemicals in products—with your help.