Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You're full of it, lady

Are you a woman, or a luscious, silken, fragrant heap of toxic chemicals?

Scientists say women use hundreds of chemicals on their bodies daily.

    (sept. 2014) Blueberry fingers and cantaloupe toes. How could I have lived so long without longing for, and demanding,  such sweet treats?
    I was flushed with anticipation as I explored a large display of beautifully bottled liquid soaps at Big Lots last month. They were on sale for a dollar. (I later learned that they cost $10 at Kohl's and $5 on Ebay.) Their labels were artful depictions of  Lavender, Peach Mango, Lemon Citrus, Cherry Vanilla and Grapefruit Daisy, among others. The BlueBerry Blossom would look so pretty in my upstairs kitchenette, and the Cucumber Melon was perfect for the color scheme in our main-floor kitchen. I bought one for every sink in our house, and several for my shower stall. I would have a Honeydew Mint bosom and a Lime Banana bum. My days would be a succession of delectable sudsings. 
    Little treats can breathe new life into a routine existence. What a delight to embody the lusciousness of Nature. Kiss me, you fool. Or actually, never mind. I'll kiss myself!
     It wasn't until I'd been using these exquisite products for several days that I idly turned the bottle around, and read the ingredients.
    Oops, I did it again. I got taken in by hype and imagery, which readily shut down the part of my brain that knew the truth. These products were a shocking brew of creepy chemicals, which can zoom straight through your pores into your bloodstream. It wasn't a "simple pleasure" -- it was a complex poison.

     A rose is a rose is a rose, but the same can't be said of your nose in the the explosively imperialistic world of synthetic aroma enhancements. Your nose doesn't belong to you anymore. It has been colonized by an industry that was initially intended to enhance your life but has become an aggressive agent of domination and profitability.
    Each time I used the Simple Pleasures liquids, as I did  many times a day, I was opening myself up to such Evildoers as sodium laureth sulfate, sodium chloride, cocomidopropyl, betaine, PEG-150, disteorate, DMDM hydantoin, fragrance, maltooligosyl glucoside, hydrosate, methylchlrosothiazohydrolysate, methylchlorolsothiazolinone, methylchlorosothiazohydrolysate, methylchloroisothiszolinone, methylisothiazolinone, magnesium chloride, magnesium nitrate, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium chloride, disodium EDTA, citric acid and an array of artificial colors.     
    No fruits were harmed in the making of all this fruitiness.
     "THIS IS NOT FOOD. DO NOT EAT," the label warned. "Do not use near eyes. Do not use near lips." 

     “Most people believe that products sold in major stores are tested for safety, but consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo or wash their hands,” Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health, said last year.
     The CEH revealed that one proven cancer-causing chemical was found in 98 shampoos, soaps, and other personal care products sold by major national retailers. 
Chemical scents have well-documented systemic effects, and they aren't "uplifting."
     I have detailed in previous posts how the synthetic fragrance and flavor industries have invaded our everyday lives, using unapproved substances to makes us feel as if we are residing in a wonderland of cinnamon, gardenias, blackberries, vanilla, tangerine and anise. (
    Hundreds of the chemicals they so blithely dump into our lives are banned in Europe and Canada, whose regulatory agencies have deemed them to be dangerous to public health, i.e. they are carcinogenic, disrupt the immune and endocrine systems, and exacerbate pulmonary conditions such as asthma, allergies, COPD and reactive airway syndrome. That’s just for starters.

Oh, the euphoria that is created by chemical-filled air!
    The EU produced a report more than 15 years ago recognizing Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), which includes a wide range of symptoms, including those that are neurological, gastrointestinal, motor, visual and psychological.
    Our fine public servants in this country haven’t yet decided if MCS “is even a real phenomenon.”
   The U.S. and its so-called regulatory agencies are way behind both Europe and Canada in documenting, publicizing and restricting chemical fragrances.
    According to a Feb. 5, 2013 New York Times blog post: "The Environmental Working Group (E.W.G.) offers a database of more than 79,000 personal care products, from soap to lip plumper, ranked by level of hazard. These are produced with something like 10,500 different chemicals, and the industry acknowledges assessing under a fifth of those. Which leaves thousands about which even the industry is clueless."   
     Our personal care and housecleaning  products are thoughtfully formulated to propel us into  one olfactory swoon after another. Most labels are incomplete and impossible to read. The list of ingredients at the bottom of the bottle of shampoo shown below can't be deciphered, even with the use of a magnifying glass:

    This industry seems intent on transforming our noses into our best-exercised body part. Your eyes may be the "window to the soul," but your tender nostrils have transformed that soul into an overstimulated portal to virtual reality.
    You could enjoy quite a stimulating existence even if you were deaf, dumb and blind, simply by inhaling. Air "fresheners" are designed to create exquisite experiential adventures, from the ambiance of an ever-so-relaxing Caribbean beach, to a majestic autumn afternoon, to a wildflower wonderland to an exclusive aromatherapy spa in Monte Carlo
    Retail outlets, busy corporate offices, lavish cultural venues and even gambling casinos envelop you in scents that are scientifically tweaked to make you work harder, buy more, and  become immune to the perils of risk-taking.  
    Fragrance is the new second-hand smoke, according to the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation.
    “The U.S. consumer is as uneducated about the dangers and health risks associated with constant exposure to synthetic fragrance products as the average non-smoker was to the risks of second-hand smoke 20 years ago,” the foundation asserts. 
    We live in a chemical world. Over 50,000 chemicals have entered daily use since World War II, many of them found in the products we use every day on our bodies, our clothes and in our homes.
    A blue ribbon award-winning study illustrates the industry’s callous attitude toward the well-being of its consumers. Funded by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials Inc., and presented at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting & ToxExpo held in March 2011, it described “Modeling Vapor Uptake and Tissue Disposition in Human Lungs.”
     The model “was used to study the fate of fragrance vapors of different solubilities and reactivities in the tissue.” 
    In other words, what happens when you inhale the crap they are enticing us to splash all over our skin?
    The study’s conclusions, especially since they were reached by the industry’s own scientists, are chilling:
    “Vapor with lower solubility such as acetaldehyde penetrates deep into the lung and is present in the alveolar tissues by a significant amount. There remains a residual concentration of vapor in the tissue at the end of a breathing cycle. Concentration continues to increase during subsequent breaths. Hence tissue accumulation of vapor occurs.”
    It makes one long for the drab "good old days," when soap smelled like plain old soap, but at least it was "99.44 percent pure."  The question remains: what was the .56 percent that  was "impure"? Inquiring minds -- mine, anyway -- want to know. Why can't soap, of all things, be 100 percent pure? Our "modern improvements" have rendered it so filthy with toxins that it almost seems cleaner not to wash your hands at all. But Mama didn't raise me that way!