Petrochemicals Found in Everyday Products
Petrochemicals are chemicals made from crude oil and natural gas. There are over 4,000 products classified as petrochemicals. Petrochemicals and their byproducts, such as dioxin, are known to cause an array of serious health problems, including cancer and endocrine disruption (interference with hormones within your body). Endocrine disruptors interfere with growth, development, intelligence, and reproduction. The damage can be irreversible and be passed on to future generations.
Did you know that petrochemicals are found in most food products, personal care products, and household cleaning products? Since they are so widely used, we are going to give you some simple ways to decrease your exposure. Every little change you make is worth it in the long run.
Petrochemicals in Food
Petrochemicals in conventional (non organic) food often come from the fertilizer the food was grown in, the pesticides that were applied to it, the preservatives and artificial colors that were added to make it appealing, and the plastic the food was packaged and/or stored in. Petrochemicals are even used as a wax coating on such produce items as cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and citrus fruits.
Chemicals from the petroleum manufacturing process also enter our bodies through meat and dairy products. Chemicals such as pesticides and antibiotics tend to accumulate in milk and in animal flesh. In addition,the manufacture and incineration of PVC (polyvinylchloride, #3) creates and disperses dioxins into the air and water. From there, they enter the food chain and accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals.
Many widely used pesticides are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as probable or possible causes of including cancer in humans. Many are known to cause damage to the nervous, reproductive and immune systems in laboratory animals. EPA pesticide regulations do not take into consideration potential chronic health effects from low-level exposures that do not cause immediate and obvious harm. The EPA also ignores potential combined effects from exposure to more than one chemical at a time. Current regulations do not consider exposure to vulnerable populations such as children and the immune-compromised.
Coal tar and petrochemicals are the sources of the artificial colors that go into many foods. Even many brands of prenatal vitamins contain them! Health implications of eating artificially colored food include links to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, allergies, asthma, migraines, and cancer.
Wild-caught salmon get their deep pink hue from natural food sources including krill and other crustateans. In contrast, farm raised salmon are fed dye made from petrochemicals to get their pink hue. Hoffmann-La Roche, one pharmaceutical company that makes the dyes, offers salmon farmers the SalmoFan, a color swatch similar to those you would find in a paint store, to help them create the color they think their customers want. Without help from Hoffman LaRoche, the flesh of farmed salmon would be a pale halibut grey. The addition of artificial color to farm-raised salmon increases the marketability and inflates the price of the product.
The color of food speaks to humans' innate perceptions about the nutritional value of food items. The natural color of various foods comes in all the colors of the rainbow; and each food contains different nutrients. Our ancestors learned to recognize foods by their color, and they also learned that foods with more vibrant colors in their natural environment were more nutrient rich. This innate perception is what food-manufacturing companies are exploiting when they enhance colors artificially. Food makers use harmful dyes to get you to buy.
Food does not need to have color added. However, if you choose to buy food with color added, look for natural food coloring ingredients such as beet juice, annatto, spinach, turmeric, saffron, or paprika.
Plastic is also made from petrochemicals. These chemicals tend to migrate into food; especially meats, cheeses, and other fatty foods. Additional migration occurs when food is heated or microwaved in plastic containers. The safest bet is to avoid food sold or stored in plastic, especially plastic wraps, PVC, and styrofoam.
Diets rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain high levels of vitamins and antioxidants, help the body combat the effects of petrochemicals. Help counterbalance the effects of petroleum in your body and world by visiting local farmers' markets and looking for certified organic fruits and vegetables. Consider becoming a vegan and growing your own pesticide-free food.
If you diet is less than perfect, supplement it with the whole food probiotic In-Liven. In-Liven contains 26 certified organic, raw whole foods as well as 13 different strains of beneficial, live microorganisms. Read How to Compare Probiotic Supplements to learn more.
To boost your intake of antioxidant rich fruits (including acai berries and goji berries) as well as raw cacao, supplement your diet with certified organic Berry Radical. Read How To Compare Antioxidant Supplements to learn more.
The human body was not designed to eat petrochemicals. The food companies do it to sell a product and generate a profit, regardless of the health effects on consumers.
Petrochemicals in Personal Care Products
Recent studies have shown that we may actually acquire more toxins through skin absorption and inhalation than through the foods that we eat. Because the skin is the largest organ in the body, this is a substantial surface area through which toxic chemical migration may occur. When you rub chemicals on your skin, they can pass straight through and enter your bloodstream within minutes. Think about how nicotine and birth control patches work.
Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide, which generates 1,4-dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-dioxane is considered a chemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer" under proposition 65. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, and is a leading groundwater contaminant. Although previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading "natural" and "organic" branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program.
Some Leading "Natural" or "Organic" Brands Found to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
To avoid 1,4-dioxane, search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: "myreth," "oleth," "laureth," "ceteareth," any other "eth," "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene glycol," "polyoxyethylene," or "oxynol," in ingredient names.
The listing of many botanicals on the front label of a product that may contain only one or two drops of a highly processed herb extract is known in the cosmetic trade as "window dressing." This tactic is used to distract you from all of the chemicals that are listed on the ingredient label located in small print on the back. Cosmetic companies know that most people don't have the time, the interest, or the education to read and understand ingredient labels.
The best way to read a personal care product ingredients list is to read each ingredient as if it were something that you might put in your mouth. Personal care products should be as pure as the foods we eat.
> To interpret ingredient labels: Toxic Ingredient Directory
Petrochemicals in Household Cleaning Products
The average household contains anywhere from 3-25 gallons of toxic materials; most of which are in cleaning products. There is no government law that requires manufacturers of cleaning products to list ingredients on their labels, or to test their products for safety. Since many common cleaners have not been evaluated for long term health (chronic exposure), they may increase your risk of cancer and other illnesses.
When you use common household cleaners, the toxic chemicals linger in the air for hours, even days. You and your family inhale them into your lungs. In addition, the residue left behind by these chemicals are toxic to anyone who uses the surface where the chemical residue is left. To further complicate this problem, when you use additional chemicals on these surfaces, the combination of chemicals can actually create additional toxic compounds.
The words "non-toxic" and "natural" on a product unfortunately don't mean much. Even cleaning products made with petrochemicals can be marketed as non-toxic and natural. When you buy new cleaning products, look for manufacturers who list every ingredient on the label. Also, purchase products such as dishwashing concentrate and laundry detergent that contain plant based surfactants, are chlorine and phosphate free, and are biodegradable.
To optimize the health of your family, clean with safe products that are made from probiotic bacteria and enzymes rather than with crude oil derived chemicals. Using healthy alternatives, you won't you have to worry about your hands burning, your eyes stinging, or the overwhelming need to cough. Even better, you can put your sandwich down on the counter worry free because you are cleaning with food grade ingredients. There is no toxic chemical residue and the live probiotics are actually healthy for you to ingest!
Remember, the manufacturer that gives you the most information about its product is usually the manufacturer you can trust. It's up to you to choose your cleaning products wisely.
The petrochemical industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and petrochemicals are here to stay. The current regulatory system allows synthetic chemicals into our lives unless proven beyond doubt to be dangerous.
Since governments do not require full disclosure of petrochemicals in products people use everyday, it is up to you to inform yourself so that you can best protect the health of your family.
If you have any questions about our certified organic products, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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