Shedding the Chemical Burden

As the naturopathic doctor at the Toronto Wellness Centre, I attended the Green Living Show at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre, to explore what was new on the market to offer to our patients! I was astounded at the number of new green products that are available on the market, and moreover, companies making it ridiculously easy to convert to green – there really aren’t any excuses anymore!

Did you know!?

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) conducted a survey of 2300 people and the results showed that “on average, respondents use nine products daily. These contain 126 unique ingredients. One man in 100 and fully 25 percent of women surveyed apply 15 or more products each day.” With these types of numbers of exposure to products with potential long term health effects, we need to start taking action.

First simple step:

Check out an application calledSkinDeep provided by the environmental working group (EWG). It’s an easy way to identify toxic ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products. Simply type in the name of the product, or you can even scan the bar-code while you are deciding between products at the store! The product will list mild, moderate and high hazard risk ingredients, allergy potential, carcinogenic components, among other things that are important to consider. Take control of the environment which you live in!

Another application is called Think Dirty which has a great database of 2.3K brands and 110K+ products! The data used to develop the rating system is based on “publicly available data released by non-profit and government agencies in North America regarding the health and safety of the individual components found in your personal care products.” The team rating the products are highly educated in the field and evaluate based on the latest research available in the literature.

Limitations:

It is a fact that research is constantly discovering new chemicals with potential hazard and the knowledge pool is continually growing. Product ratings are based on the known hazards associated with ingredients listed on labels. The EWG’s ratings represent “EWG’s best effort to present solid information on cosmetic safety. But the answers are not as clear as [they] would like. Due to the weakness of the FDA’s cosmetics rules, many products with “green” ratings contain ingredients that have not been tested. These products appear to be free of ingredients that we know or suspect to present health hazards. But absence of evidence is not proof of safety. There may be chemical hazards that scientists have yet to identify. In cases where data are lacking, a “limited data” or “no data” rating is shown alongside the green hazard score.”

Studies have shown again and again that hormone systems of wildlife are thrown in disarray by chemicals from personal care products that rinse down drains and into rivers (NIEHS 2010). Over 36 years, the FDA has rejected 11 ingredients as unsafe in cosmetics (CIR 2012). By contrast, the European Union has banned hundreds of chemicals in cosmetics (European Commission 2012). We need to start paying attention to our world and our chemical load for the health of our futures!

As a naturopathic doctor, I can help navigate you through these choices in your everyday life and ultimately decrease your toxic exposure as much as possible. Of course, we cannot live in a bubble. However cliché, every small change can ultimately add up into a big difference.

Ask for Dr. Kate McLaird at the Toronto Wellness Centre! I would love to work with you towards your unique health goals.

References:

NIEHS. 2010. Endocrine Disruptors. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Research Triangle Park, NC. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/endocrine_disruptors_508.pdf
CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review). 2012. Ingredients found unsafe for use in cosmetics. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel, Washington DC. Last updated February 2012. http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/U-unsafe%202-02-2012%20final.pdf
European Commission. 2012. Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC.
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/sectors/cosmetics/documents/directive/#h2-consolidated-version-of-cosmetics-directive-76/768/eec