…and Clean Living
By Pauline Hall
In our life today there is some confusion over what to do to go “green” in our homes and environment.
Many people use products such as vinegar to clean, believing they are making a safe choice. But cheap vinegar may be derived from synthetic ethyl alcohol, which is synthesized from natural gas or petroleum derivatives, not brewed from grain. This is one of numerous instances in which we believe we are doing the right thing for our families and ourselves but, in reality, may not be.
Toxic chemicals are found in personal hygiene products, water, food, air, medicines and cleaning products. More than 8000 pesticides and veterinary products are registered for use in Australian agriculture, horticulture, livestock, forestry, commercial premises, parks, and most likely your own home and garden. More than 80 of these are prohibited in the 28 member countries of the European Union. Why do we still use them in Australia?
TALLOWATES IN SOAPS
Our skin has such a large surface area, it can soak in many types of toxins and petrochemicals from synthetic ingredients. This can result in compounds leaching into the body and accumulating in fat cells.
Many people complain of commercial soaps making their skin feel dry and itchy. They may not be aware that the main ingredients in mass-produced bar soaps are sodium tallowate and potassium tallowate. These substances are the toxic fatty remains of slaughtered cows, sheep and horses.
EFFECTS OF FRAGRANCES
So what about fragrances? Many compounds in the commercial synthetic fragrances used in bath and body products are carcinogenic or toxic. Clinical observation by medical doctors has shown that exposure to synthetic fragrances can affect the central nervous system causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioural changes. (Dadd DL. Home Safe Home. 1997. New York: Barnes & Noble Books).
‘Clinical observation… has shown that exposure to synthetic fragrances can affect the central nervous system causing depression… and other behavioural changes’
Laboratory analysis of top selling colognes and perfumes identified an average of 14 chemicals per product not listed on the label, including multiple chemicals that can trigger allergies reactions, or interfere with hormone function (Environmental Defence Canada, 2010-2014).
In Australia, manufacturers are only required to put “fragrance” or “perfume” on the label. They’re exempted from listing the individual ingredients. Yet sensitivity or allergy to chemicals in fragrances is found in about 20 per cent of the population, who may suffer dizziness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, hay fever, skin rash, migraines, nausea or asthma. However, little research has been done into the possible long-term effects of exposure to these chemicals.
Most of the 3000 chemicals used in fragrances in Australia have been in use since before the introduction of compulsory testing, which started about 12 years ago (ABC Health & Wellbeing 2015).
The Connecticut Department of Public Health states that air fresheners don’t freshen or clean the air, they add fragrance and in some cases chemicals that may be harmful. Several studies have found the following are common ingredients in air fresheners: fragrance, phthalates, propellants, solvents, aldehydes and deodorisers. Some possible side effects of these chemicals include allergies, hormone disruption and cancer.
The department states that decreasing risk of air fresheners will decrease chemical exposure in the home (Fact sheet: Air fresheners, what you need to know. Connecticut Department of Public Health. July 2013).
So where does this leave us? Some suggestions include [for cleaning] sodi-bicarbonate, brewed vinegar and essential oils. But with the busy, stressed lifestyles many of us lead today, it is not always practical to make our own products. Safe, healthy alternatives are available; it just takes a little effort to find them.
Essential oils have been around for centuries and generally are a safer alternative to use in the home. It is vital that the essential oils in the products you choose are pure and potent.
Don’t choose an essential oil that has synthetics added to boost its fragrance!
Do not accept that because a product is available it is safe. Look for better alternatives. Buy from a company that has its own farms, with years of experience and knowledge in its own planting, harvesting, distilling and testing to ensure potency and purity.
Your health and that of your family is worth it.