The dangers of household products

According Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being, the Immokalee/Naples area has been rated one of the healthiest and happiest places to live in the country for the past several years. It’s not surprising because the majority of Immokalee residences do physical labor, and do a lot of walking. Also, most Immokalee residences use recipes from their home countries and eat fresh produce grown locally. Although, it’s common sense to know the dangers of being exposed to chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, car exhaust, and cigarette smoke; people are unaware of the dangers of household products that we use daily.

Several products that list “fragrance” as one of the ingredients such as air fresheners, cosmetic products, and detergents, are among these dangerous products. Artificial scents contain carcinogens, allergens, and respiratory irritations to name a few of the toxic conditions caused by using them. However, most people buy their daily products based on the smell of the product, not based on the ingredients. According to the International Fragrance Association, the term “fragrance” listed as ingredient refers to a list of over 3000 different components that are combined to make a certain scent. Although many European countries have banned many of these components, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to force American companies to list all of the ingredients. Even the Breast Cancer Fund recommends to stay away from synthetic fragrances as a mean of prevention. No one would spray themselves with cigarette smoke or the exhaust from a car, but many cosmetic sprays contain styrene, an ingredient found in both cigarette smoke and car exhaust. However, this ingredient, along with thousands of others, is masked under the term “fragrance”. Another one of these ingredients are phthalates, which are known to cause cancer and hormonal imbalances. Besides being found in fragrance sprays and perfumes, phthalates can be found in potpourri, scented candles, body wash, dryer sheets and numerous of other products. Phthalates are also known to cause problems with the reproductive system. Another widely used ingredient is mineral oil, a byproduct of petroleum, is used in many cosmetic products. Matter of fact the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies mineral oil as a Group 1 carcinogen because it is known to cause several different types of cancers.

Although only three of these toxic substances are listed, please understand that there are thousands that we expose ourselves to everyday. Unfortunately, the only way to tell if the scented products, that you are using, contain toxic substances is through a lab test. More than likely, if the product lists “fragrance” as an ingredient, it is toxic. The company would not hide behind the term “fragrance” if they were using safe ingredients. Instead, they use eye catchers such as: “100% natural” to make you think that their product is safe. Just remember that chemicals and other harmful products are natural. As a consumer, it is important to read the label. The companies making these products are aware of this and several of the mentioned products have a clear or metallic background making it nearly impossible to read the label. If the company is trying to create an unreadable label to hide ingredients, than why buy their product? Consumers need to be more aware of the products they are consuming, and write to the companies of the products they are using. If these companies start losing money, maybe they will change. The FDA knows that this is a problem, but so far has done nothing to protect the citizens.

Lewis Perkins is special to the Immokalee Bulletin and can be reached at ibnews@newszap.com

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