Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Toxic products

This information is from the Guide to Less Toxic Products:

Dioxins - You won't find dioxin listed on any label. It's formed as an accidental by-product of some manufacturing processes using chlorine, especially paper bleaching and the creation of plastic. Dioxin is one of the most powerful carcinogens known and accumulates in body fat. Mainstream deodorants and anti-bacterial soaps are suspect. Chlorine bleached tissues, toilet paper and cotton balls can contain dioxin. Plastic bottles may leach dioxin into creams, shampoos and other products we use daily.

Nonylphenols - This estrogen-mimicking chemical is a surfactant used for its detergent properties. It can be found in some plastics, as well as shaving creams, shampoos and hair colours. It can be created when certain chemicals commonly found in personal care products break down. Nonylphenols can be a component in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a compound often found in acrylic nails. They are persistent in the environment and of such concern that many European countries are phasing them out. Some manufacturers have voluntarily discontinued their use.

Phthalates - Everyone in the general population is exposed to phthalates from one source or another. They are found in many products from plastics to shampoo. These hormone-disrupting chemicals are suspected of contaminating breast milk and causing damage to the kidneys, liver, lungs and reproductive organs. One type of phthalate, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is commonly found in fragrances and other personal care products. Phthalates are used to enhance fragrances, as solvents, and to denature alcohol. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives (December 2002) found that DEP is damaging to the DNA of sperm in adult men at current levels of exposure. DNA damage to sperm can lead to infertility and may also be linked to miscarriages, birth defects, infertility and cancer in offspring. DEP is the phthalate found in the highest levels in humans. Recent product tests found the chemical in every fragrance tested in the United States. Manufacturers are not required to list phthalates on product labels, so they are difficult to avoid.

Harmful materials: latex rubber, plastic, nitrosamines

Nipples for bottles are usually made of latex rubber or silicone. Latex rubber nipples can release nitrosamines, potent carcinogens, when babies suckle the nipple. They also tend to break down faster than silicone nipples, which can cause cracks where bacteria can hide.

A common plastic used in baby bottles is polycarbonate. In separate studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Consumers Union and researchers at Nagasaki University in Japan found that baby bottles made of polycarbonate plastic release a hormone-disrupting chemical, bisphenol-A, into infant formula during sterilization and heating on the stove-top. The Japanese scientists also found that used bottles leached up to nearly twice as much as new bottles. Other plastic bottles and plastic disposable bags for bottles may leach phthalates, another hormone disrupting chemical. Some plastic bottles have coloured designs on the inside of the bottle which can come off during heating.

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