There are many warnings about products we shouldn’t apply to our bodies, but with all the conflicting advice, it’s hard to know what’s safe and what isn’t.
And while we interact with chemicals daily, Dr. Keith Solomon at the University of Guelph’s Centre for Toxicology says that’s not the problem.
“There are lots of chemicals around us. We are made of chemical ourselves and there are lots of chemicals in our environment.”
The catch is that many usually harmless chemicals, in the right concentration, can be toxic.
“Everything is a toxin, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you have a large enough dose you can kill something with anything,” Solomon says.
You can be exposed to toxic chemicals in the air, food, cleaning products and personal care items, and you may not be as protected as you think.
Maggie MacDonald of Environmental Defence explains “The skin is not just this coat of armour on our body. It’s something that is permeable, it’s the body’s largest organ and what you put on your skin ends up in your system.”
The environmental action organization is trying to inspire people to change, as is chemist Yingchun Liu.
In Liu’s line of cosmetics, Suncoat Products, “The idea is to use water replacing all the chemical solvents,” she says.
The Guelph-based company produces natural products like a corn starch-based hairspray and water-based nail polish. Why?
Liu says “Nail polishes, they just, it’s a chemical soup. There’s just too much chemicals…nail care products, nail polish and the remover, personally I think those are the most toxic makeup products on the market.”
She has spent the last 10 years creating a product line for the growing number of consumers concerned about what’s in products they use every day, like nail polish, makeup and hair products.
MacDonald says consumers should be aware of what’s in commonly used beauty products.
“One thing you might find in your foundation is BHT or BHA, that’s a hormone-disrupting chemical that is used as a preservative…parabens are hormone-disrupting chemicals and scientists have found parabens in breast cancer tissue.”
Solomon adds “The most toxic substance known to man is botulinum toxin and people inject it into their faces to make themselves look attractive.”
There’s even concern about trichlosan, a chemical that is sometimes used in anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, which MacDonald says is bad for people and the environment.
Coming up in part two: Is simple hot water and elbow grease the best way to keep your home both clean and healthy?…