Be it acne, pimple, hair fall, skin pigmentation, brittle hair, dry skin or other skin and hair problems, they are all symptoms of an underlying health issue – Hormone imbalance. It can range from painful menstruation, cramps, PMS, Thyroid issues, PCOS, Diabetes, reproductive /Fertility problems and so on. Did you know that these can be caused even by the products that we buy to improve our skin and hair?
The word ‘pollution’ and ‘pollutants’ are not new to us. When we hear the word pollution, we imagine smoke and soot coming out of a factory chimney or hundreds of vehicles stuck in a traffic jam. These are examples of outdoor pollution, for which we blame everyone including the government and various industries.
We feel good when we are in our personal space, be it in our office, home, gym or car. Has it ever occurred to you that we are at exposed to pollution even here? Can the air that is enclosed between the walls of our house/office or in the confines of our car with the air-conditioned running and a subtle fragrance of our favourite air freshener be a source of pollution?
Many studies have proved that ‘ indoor air pollution ‘ is one of the major causes of cancer and leading breathing problems like bronchitis and asthma. The toxic indoor pollutants are caused by asbestos, paint, aerosol sprays, cleaning products, laundry products, personal care products like deodorant, nail polish removers, cosmetics, hair styling sprays, smoke etc.
With celebrities endorsing these products, we tend to forget the side effects and chemicals in these products. The volatile organic compounds – VOCs present in these products contain about 350 different kinds of chemicals like ‘ phthalates’ (read as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’), ‘ parabens’(causes hormonal problems), dichlorobenzene ,carbon monoxide, toluene, formaldehyde(causes cancer), lead & heavy metals(neurotoxic), butane , propane and more. The VOCs in these products are atomised and are of very small size that it enters our breath, and can pass through the blood – brain barrier within a matter of seconds and that’s how our brains identify the fragrance.
Since the regulations for these products are not very stringent, industries easily find loopholes to mask these toxic chemicals while listing the ingredients.
What are the health hazards of these products?
Most of the chemicals in these products are synthetic, toxic, carcinogenic (cancer causing), lung irritants, neurotoxic and endocrine disruptors meaning they can mimic the action of hormones in our body and can cause hormonal and reproductive issues.
They can cause or worsen thyroid problems, PCOS, Type 2 Diabetes, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis , cancer, kidney and liver disorders and more.
Since the chemicals are atomized, our body doesn’t have any way of getting rid of them once it mixes in blood. It is also bio accumulative i.e. they accumulate in our fat cells or blood o ver a period of time (as often as we are exposed to those)
What are the products that could cause this?
- Car/room/bathroom/air fresheners
- Deodorants/anti perspirants ( Remember , skin is our largest organ)
- Perfumed cleaning liquids & laundry detergents, bleach, disinfectant, glass cleaners
- Fabric softeners, dryer sheets
- Cosmetics like lipsticks, hair styling sprays, sunscreen sprays, shampoos, condtioners
- Nail polish and nail polish removers
- Paints, thinners, asbestos
- Perfumed candles
- Smoke from cigarettes, cooking meat at high temperatures
- Insect killers/insect repellants.
How do we avoid these pollutants?
- Try and stick to the natural methods and products for cleaning. Replacing the perfumed cleaning liquid with vinegar/salt and an essential oil is a good move.
- Reducing the use of chemicals and cosmetics will be bliss for your skin, health, and wallet. Go make up free often. Use coconut oil mixed with essential oil of your choice instead of moisturizers, lip balms and lotions.
- Reduce/Avoid the use of fabric softeners, dryer sheets and perfumed laundry detergents. Instead mix a drop or two of an essential oil if you want the fragrance.
- Choose shampoos and other personal care products that are paraben free or switch to natural hair cleaning products like hibiscus leaf powder.
- Avoid the use of deodorant/anti-perspirant sprays, instead use essential oil roll on that is made from natural sources.
- Choose lead-free paints, reduce/avoid the use of pesticides.
- Avoid smoking – be it indoor or outdoor
- Use baking soda instead of air fresheners to absorb the bad odours from your room/car, or simply use flowers that give fragrance like how it used to be several years ago. Essential oils and fragrance from flowers like jasmine and rose have therapeutic properties too.
There is always a natural and safe alternative to these chemicals, if we decide to follow this path.
The next time you pick up a household/personal care product ask yourself these questions.
- Is this product essential?
- Does this have artificial fragrance or chemicals that can cause health hazards?
- Can this be replaced with something that is more natural/home made? (Google about it)
Answering these questions will help you save your family’s health, environment and money too.
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