Why reading all labels is imperative – Go Green Get Fit Challenge Week 6

I read labels on pretty much anything that enters my house; food, medications, toys, pillows, clothing, even trash-bags.  I have researched which cell phone emits the least amount of radiation. I want to know what is in our carpet, shoes, carseats, sunscreen, literally everything!  I work hard researching nearly every product in my home so I know exactly what is in them.

It has been six years since my children were born and there are so many more organic, all natural and non-toxic products are available today.  It is delightful that even big box stores now carry some organic or all natural items are virtually the same price as the preservative filled, artificial flavored, pesticide laden brand name products.

In an effort to be supportive of my desire to be more healthy, my extended family frequently tries to find items that they know I would like.  Because it isn’t necessarily their passion, I appreciate their thoughtfulness, but I was disenchanted when I received an organic body wash that was certified with 71% organic materials that had parabens (chemicals used as preservatives) in it.

As you may know, parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers.  I definitely do not want to be adding potential cancer causing chemicals on my skin.

This particular product also had Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), an irritating detergent and surfactant used as a foaming agent.  This “organic” body wash also contained Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate which is another surfactants and it is used as a wetting agent that lowers the surface tension of liquid, allowing easier spreading application.

It contained Propylene Glycol, a toxic chemical that affects your skin, kidneys and respiratory system. It is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water.

This particular body wash also contained three Propylene Glycol Stearate (PEG) ingredients. The first one was PEG 55-Propylene Glycol Oleate, which helps other ingredients to dissolve in a solvent in which they would not normally dissolve. The second was PEG-6, a polymer of ethylene oxide that is potentially carcinogenic.  The third was PEG 150 Distearate, which can contain harmful impurities, including: ethylene oxide and according to experimental results reported by the National Toxicology Program, 1,4-dioxane, is a known carcinogen.

Lastly, there were two more preservatives, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate.  Needless to say, I was unimpressed that the body wash contained organic aloe and honey.

This one tiny 8oz bottle of “organic” body wash made me realize that so many people wash their bodies with chemicals when they think they are being healthy.  It is heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time and this is not a comprehensive list of all the despicable ingredients that are present in food, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, etc.

We must stop pretending that ‘parts per million’ is acceptable.  Reading labels is the first step towards making sure these dangerous toxins do not enter your home.

Other ingredients to watch out for:

  • DEA (diethanolamine)
  • MEA (monoethanolamine)
  • TEA (triethanolamine)

Hormone disrupting chemicals

  • Ketoconazole

Know pregnancy concern and is a possible reproductive toxin

  • Imidazolidinyl Urea
  • DMDM Hydantoin

Preservatives that release formaldehyde

  • Tetrasodium EDTA
  • Trisodium HEDTA

Penetration enhancing chemicals

  • Lecithin
  • Sodium PCA
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene
  • Tocopheryl acetate
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Polyacrylic acid
  • Polyquaternium-7
  • Quaternium-15
  • Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate

Possible human carcinogens

Have you ever seen ‘Fragrance’ listed on a package? It seems benign until you understand that on a label that single word can indicate the presence of up to 400 separate ingredients, most or all of them are synthetic.

Familiarizing yourself with these words will help get you on track to understanding what is in the products you purchase.  Be encouraged as you learn more about these ingredients.  The more you understand the better it will be, even though it might be a little overwhelming at first.

This was my goal for Week 6 of Go Green Get Fit to make sure that the products that go on my body are as important as me getting healthy in this challenge.