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Table of the Most Toxic Compounds Found in Consumer Products

PVC curtain

An easy-to-consult list of the most toxic compounds industries use to make consumer products we use daily and the safe alternatives

 

THE MOST COMMON TOXIC COMPOUNDS

NAME AND FEATURES

COMPOUND HIGHLIGHT

 WHERE THEY MAY BE FOUND

POSSIBLE TOXIC EFFECTS

ACTIONS YOU MAY TAKE

Polychlorinated byphenils (PCBs):

a200-compounds

family found in

electrical equipment, insulators and coolants

Commercialized in 1920’s, now banned, but very persistent, and still used in developing countries Flame retardants, rubber preservatives, paints, varnishes, printing inks, some pesticides, strip lights Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), they may affect reproduction & make men less fertile. Immuno-suppressants, linked to skin cancer, neurotoxic. They are no longer produced, but are still widely present in the environment and people’s blood

Brominated flame retardants BFRs

(banned in Sweden since 1990’s). Some are similar to thyroid hormone

Penta e octa-BDE were banned Polyurethane foam in soft furnishings and mattresses; synthetic-fibre carpeting, curtains and bed linen; synthetic clothing, especially children’s; plastic casing of computers, TV sets, cell-phones, MP3 players, car interiors; house dust Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: may cause many adverse effects to the reproductive, developmental, immune and nervous systems; thyroid imbalances; neurotoxic as concentrates in brain Only natural fibres, esp. when tightly woven; computer and electrical goods with metal casings; buy old furniture

Perfluorinates or

PFCs

Strong-water and oil-repelling properties.

Very persistent in the environment. PFOS is no longer manufactured in the US, and PFOA production is being phased out

Large group of manufactured

compounds widely used to make everyday products more resistant to stains grease and water.

Waterproof outdoor clothing; leather goods, floor waxes; Teflon – non-stick cookware; fast foods containers, microwave food packaging; fire-fighting foam In animal studies, some PFCs disrupt normal endocrine activity; reduce immune function; cause adverse effects on multiple organs, incl. the liver and pancreas; & cause developmental problems in rodent offspring exposed in the womb. Many studies on humans confirm results.

No stain-repellent furniture or clothing; No crease-resistant clothing; NO no- ironing required clothing; check for presence of Teflon in clothing!

YES stainless steel cookware

PHTHALATES esp. DEHP

Concern is about their many sources and the fact that legal minimum doses allowed cannot take this into account. Moreover, endocrine disruptors have effects at very low doses, as seen in laboratory animal studies

They are very widely used to make plastic products more flexible, less brittle; cosmetics smoother Everything’s soft plastic: toys (banned in toys for under 3’s) , moulded plastic car dashboards, PVC flooring; blood bags, vinyl upholstery, shower curtains, some plastic food wrap, bags, credit cards, some teething rings, some creams, cosmetics, and personal care products. Oestrogen mimics, they may disrupt male reproductive development in utero, impair male reproductive system, cause premature onset of puberty in girls. Possible link to breast cancers.

Use natural-ingredients soaps & personal care products; don’t buy plastic toys unless they advertise they are phthalate-free,

Replace plastic containers with glass or ceramic AMP

BISPHENOL A or BPA

Widely used to make polycarbonate plastics

and epoxy resins.

It may leak out of products, especially when heated.

Concern is about its many sources and the fact that allowed minimum doses do not take this into account. Moreover, endocrine disruptors have effects at very low doses, as seen in laboratory animal studies

 

A synthetic Oestrogen,

makes plastic harder.

Human exposure to BPA is very widespreadThe 2003-2004

NHANES

conducted by the CDC found

detectable levels of BPA in 93%

of Americans six years and older.

Polycarbonate plastics have many applications incl. use in some food and drink packaging such as water and baby bottles, tableware, food storage containers, CDs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices incl. those used in hospital settings. Epoxy resins are used to coat metal products such as food cans, jar&bottle tops, and water supply pipes. BPA can also be found in certain thermal paper products, including some cash register and ATM receipts. Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure. It may be found in plastic casings of mobile phones and electrical appliances, some car parts, some pesticides and flame retardants. Endocrine disruptor: affects reproduction and may be linked to hormone-dependent cancers, male reproductive system defects, miscarriage, knock on effect on the immune system/i.s. defects, polycystic ovarian disease. Maybe links to diabetes and obesity.

Minimize canned foodstuffs

Use glass bottles

No white dental fillings

Don’t use plastic tableware.

Keep car’s interior aerated

No plastic containers to preserve food in the kitchen, use glass jars and ceramics instead

FORMALDEHYDE

It’s also found in natural food sources and in the human body. Concern is about too many artificial sources. Concentrations maybe higher in indoor air than in outdoor air

Aspartame ultimately breaks down into formaldehyde.

The resin used in MDF contains the highest concentration and emits the most formaldehyde into the air.

Pungent odour.

As RESIN is present in particle-board, plywood and other pressed wood products (kitchen cabinets etc), MDF. As PRESERVATIVE is used in many lipsticks, toothpaste, shampoos, hand-washes, bubble baths and other personal grooming products of an aqueous nature. Industrial food. Vehicle exhausts, smoke (tobacco, coal and wood), construction & home-finishing products. Aspartame sources (artificial sweeteners, diet drinks & food, chewing gums etc.). If regularly present in the body, it can cause gradual, and eventually, severe damage to the neurological and immune system. Contributes to Sick Building Syndrome. Affects mucous membranes, skin and lung allergies, strongly linked to asthma and various cancers

Keep rooms constantly aerated. Use personal grooming products that don’t contain it as a preservative.

Use hardwood and natural flooring.

Use low VOC paints, varnishes and other wall and floor finishing products

Drink fresh juices

SYNTHETIC MUSKS

Fix and enhance aromas

Bioaccumulative & persistent in the environment

Research suggests that polycyclic musks, the most common by far, may act as toxic enhancer by debilitating the cell’s natural ability to defend against other toxic substances.

May compromise the body’s xenobiotic defence system: the basic defence mechanism that allows the body to pump toxic substances out at a cellular level Wherever there is perfume there may be synthetic musk. Often found in the same products as phthalates and parabens: all personal grooming and skin care products. Detergents, air fresheners, bin bags, children’s toys, scented candles, toothpaste, sweets, chewing gums and even ice cream. Toxic to the immune system, toxic to reproduction. Synthetically scented products trigger headaches, migraines, asthma, allergies and cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat

Opt for non-fragranced or fragrance-free products.

Use essential oils.

Ventilate the home instead of using air fresheners.

Look out for “natural fragrance”

THE MOST COMMON TOXIC COMPOUNDS

NAME &

FEATURES

PRODUCT

HIGHLIGHT 

WHERE THEY MAY BE FOUND

POSSIBLE TOXIC EFFECTS

ACTIONS YOU MAY TAKE

PARABENS

 

Oestrogen mimics

Cheap preservative in facial and body cosmetics Facial and body cosmetics, skincare products, shampoos and conditioners, sunscreens, underarm products, colognes and perfumes, nail products, toothpastes, and soaps. Foodstuffs. Condoms. Pharmaceutical products Parabens have been discovered in breast tumours. Reproductive system toxicants. Look for paraben-free alternatives

 

PERCHLOROETHYLENE or PERC

Chlorinated solvent used in dry-cleaning

Used in ca. 80% of European dry-cleaners Through dry-cleaned clothes, when living in buildings with dry-cleaning facilities, from spot or stain removers. As a widespread environmental pollutants is in the water we drink and food we eat too.

Hazardous air pollutant and groundwater contaminant

Neurotoxic and listed as probable carcinogen

Seek out less toxic cleaning methods. Liquid Carbon Dioxide is being adopted by some drycleaners as an alternative to PERC

ORGANOTINS/TBT(tributyltin)

Based on tin with hydrocarbon constituents, used as stabilizers or catalysts in the production of plastics (polyesters, polyurethane, PVC) as well as in glues and wood preserves

Persistent, bio-accumulative, disrupts sex hormones.

Suspected to attack the white blood cells on which the human immune system depends.

Baby nappies, antifouling paint on boat hulls, baking paper, plastic toys, paddling pools and inflatable beach toys, PVC flooring , ‘plastic’ heat-transfer printing on sports shirts, sports shoes, insoles, crotch padding of cycling shorts, household paints. Used as insecticides in children’s socks.

Found in fish all over the world.

May be a dangerous gender bender: very small levels have been shown to be disruptive of endocrine function and may disrupt a baby’s sex balance. Female dog welks exposed to TBT developed penises.  

Use washable or TBT-free nappies.

Reduce PVC products and don’t buy inflatable beach toys made with TBT.

Don’t buy clothing that promises “added fungicide” or similar labelling.

 

 

 

TRICLOSAN

Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial: bug-killing function.

A close relation of dioxin

Banned in Sweden.

MIGHT CONTRIBUTE TO INCREASED ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE OF BACTERIA &

KILLS FRIENDLY BACTERIA WHICH AID DIGESTION, METABOLISM & IMMUNE SYSTEM

Hand-washes, soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, mouthwash, anti-acne and foot-care products, impregnates plastic chopping boards, bin bags, plastic kitchenware and cleaning cloths. Children’s toys, socks, underwear, school uniforms and bedclothes advertised as anti-bacterial. When combined, from soap or detergent that’s been added to, with chlorinated tap water it produces chloroform.

Highly bio-accumulative, classified by EPA as a pesticide, can stimulate growth of new strains of harmful microbes Check product labels. Just adopt a good and regular cleaning routine, without using anti-bacterial/ microbial products.

NONYLPHENOLS

(alkylphenols)

Nonionic surfactants, i.e. detergent-like substances

Endocrine disruptors.

Widespread presence in aquatic environments. Highly toxic to aquatic life

They are used for industrial processes and in consumer laundry detergents, personal hygiene, automotive, latex paints, and lawn care products. Also present in shampoos, cosmetics, spermicidal lubricants. German researchers found them in many supermarket food products.   Possible male reproductive system toxicants. NP has been detected in human breast milk, blood, and urine and is associated with reproductive and developmental effects in rodents.

Consume seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables from organic farmers’ markets.

Minimize packaged food products.

In the US, look out for EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Label

http://www2.epa.gov/

saferchoice

SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (SLS) Was used as an industrial de-greasant and garage floor cleaner. It makes products foam up better so they seem super soapy Shampoos, air conditioners, toothpaste, body washes and bubble baths Strips off the oil layer. irritating & eroding skin, paving the way for bacteria and toxicants to enter the body. Bad for eyes, causing cataracts in adults, can inhibit proper eye development in children & cause mouth ulcers. Check labels and select SLS-free consumables. If in doubt, keep away from eyes and mouth.

TOLUENE

Solvent

When used by solvent abusers, it can cause irreversible hearing loss, central nervous system and brain damage. Added to paint, adhesives, detergents, hairsprays, shoe polish, nail polish, perfumes and cosmetics. Reproductive effects and an increased incidence of miscarriages has been noted

Check labels and choose natural-ingredient consumables or make your own home detergents.

Use natural paints and fragrances.

 

MIT or Methylisothiazolinone

Bug-killer

Recent research has revealed that even a 10 min. exposure at a high concentration proved lethal to the nerve cells Antimicrobial agent or biocide in personal care products such as shampoos and hand lotions It can have neuro-developmental consequences Check labels and avoid.
         

Mineral oil

 

Composed of a blend of hydrocarbons!

It is a petroleum by –product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

Used to remove makeup at the end of the day. Often used as a beauty treatment, as it is an excellent amplifier that helps the body to absorb ultraviolet rays without drying out the skin. While not everyone is aware, baby oil is simply mineral oil that has been enhanced with a small amount of fragrance.

 

It can interfere with the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, thereby promoting acne and other disorders and slowing down skin function and cell development which results in premature aging.

Use natural-ingredient body cream. Cleanse face with natural soaps.

Remove eye make up with natural oils.

On your baby’s skin use natural oils.

PAHs or POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS Where there’s smoke there are PAHs in the air Ubiquitous environmental contaminants formed during the burning of organic substances such as wood, coal, oil, gas, rubbish and tobacco. Found in processed food, charred and burned food. If you don’t smoke, barbecue, burn the dinner or have an open fire, PAHs will be less present in your home, but not entirely absent as a result of prolonged industrial activities Carcinogenic properties, endocrine disruptors, toxicity to reproduction, ability to suppress immune function. Their effects increase synergistically when combined with other pollutants.

Eliminate gas stoves?

Filter outside air?

Eat less processed or barbecued food.

Quit smoking.  

ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS   Cell phones, cell towers, powerlines, computers, and wireless devices Studies show that may contribute to cancer-formation, infertility, miscarriage, MCS Move to another neighbourhood
 

 WHAT MIGHT BE LURKING IN THE PRODUCTS UNDER YOUR SINK?

NAME POSSIBLE EFFECTS POSSIBLE ACTION TO TAKE
Oven cleaners

Contain powerful alkaline corrosive agents such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. Their aerosols are bad since a mist of the caustic chemicals cand drift on to skin, eyes and sensitive lung surfaces

*BAKING SODA (new research suggests could help cure cancer!)

Ensure proper ventilation and wear a mask and rubber gloves. As cleaners, try natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice and BAKING SODA
Drain clearer Same as oven cleaner or with sulphuric acid. All very toxic.  

Washing powders

(especially the ‘biological’ kind)

Often based on powerful alkaline corrosive agents such as sodium carbonate, also found in dishwasher powders. Can cause adverse effects in people with sensitive skin. Even wearing the washed clothes can trigger an effect, which can be followed by an immune reaction producing an itchy rash that can spread across the body and last for several months to a year. Some sufferers claim that simply walking down a supermarket aisle stacked with boxes of biological washing poweders can make them feel itchy. Use natural soaps, white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, micro-organism-base detergents
Shoe polish Contains a solvent called nitrobenzene. Suspected human carcinogen that affects the central nervous system producing fatigue, headache, vertigo, general weakness and, in some cases, severe depression. It reacts with alcohol so best not to polish your shoes while having a beer. Shoe polish can also contain methylene chloride – a known animal and suspected human carcinogen. To polish shoes mix olive oil with white vinegar
Bleach Contains sodium hypochlorite, which irritates and corrodes mucous membranes, causing pain and vomiting if swallowed. Breathing in fumes causes coughing and choking and may cause severe respiratory tract irritation. Exposing the scalp to vapours containing sodium hypochlorite has been known to cause acute, toxic alopecia, as the vapour can alter the hair structure. Go easy with the spring-cleaning and perhaps wear a shower cap while you’re at it.
All-purpose cleaners Typically contain a scary combination of detergents, grease-cutting agents and possibly solvents and disinfectants, plus one or more of the following – ammonia, ethylene glycol, monobutyl acetate, sodium hypochlorite and trisodium phosphate. They can cause anything from mild to extreme irritation to the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Chronic irritation or allergy can occur after repeated use. Experiment with natural ingredients that have cleaning properties such as vinegar, baking soda, pure Marseille soap, lemon juice mixed with water and microorganism-based detergents
Metal polish It can provoke headaches, nausea, dizziness, hallucinations and, at extreme levels, coma. A typical solvent in metal polish is toluene linked to reproductive and developmental disorders. High and repeated exposure during pregnancy has been associated with nervous system defects, urinary tract and gastrointestinal problems, and raised miscarriage rates. Wear gloves, open windows and don’t do it often
Washing up liquid Like all detergents contains chemicals called surfactants that lower the surface tension of water, making it runnier and more able to ‘be wet’ and so better able to clean. They also encourage water loss from the skin, leaving it dry and irritated. The petrochemical detergents prevail over vegetable ones because they are cheaper Healthier vegetable-derived surfactants are easily available.  
 
 

SOURCES

The Toxic Consumer, Elizabeth Salter Green, Karen Ashton, Impact Publishing Ltd 2006

Documentary: Allergy, the Toxic Burden, by P. Marani

US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

US Environmental Protection Agency

EWG SKIN DEEP - COSMETICS DATABASE

*Endocrine Disrupting Nonylphenols Are Ubiquitous in Food, K L A U S G U E N T H E R et al., Institute of Applied Physical Chemistry, Research Centre Juelich GmbH, D-52425 Juelich, Germany

Cell growth of BG-1 ovarian cancer cells is promoted by di-n-butyl phthalate and hexabromocyclododecane via upregulation of the cyclin D and cyclin-dependent kinase-4 genes Authors: Min-Ah Park et al. 

*”Our survey indicates that NPs are ubiquitous in food productscommercially available in Germany (Figures 3-5). The widelyvarying concentrations of NPs independent of the fat contentsand the packaging materials of the food samples imply thatNPs get into food on miscellaneous pathways and at differentstages of food production. A part of it could originate fromNPEs which are used as nonionic surfactants in disinfectantsand cleaning agents or as emulsifiers in pesticide formulations. After application in stables or food industries and inagriculture, respectively, degradation of NPEs could lead tothe accumulation of NPs in food. In particular, the highconcentrations of NPs in apples and tomatoes could beconsequently attributed to pesticide application. Then, thelipophilic NPs would be accumulated in the wax coats of thefruits and vegetables, respectively. Another source might beplastic packaging materials from which NPs, used for examplein tris(nonylphenol)phosphite as antioxidant, could migrateinto food (32).

The average daily intake of NPs via food for a Germanadult calculated from the data in Figures 2-4 was 7.5µg/day. For infants exclusively feeded with breast milk or infantformulas (daily consumption of 750 mL of breast milk orinfant formula) average daily intakes of NPs of about 0.2µg/day and about 1.4µg/day, respectively, can be estimated(Figure 5). An average estimation of the daily intake of NPsfor older infants will be possible after receipt of a foodconsumption survey and further investigations of infant food.Although all food samples were only purchased fromGerman supermarkets, many of them originated from abroad…”

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: neither the Author nor the website can accept liability for the use of the materials or method recommended in this table or for any consequences arising out of their use, nor can they be held responsible for any errors or omissions that may be found in the text or may occur at a future date as a result of changes in rules, laws or equipment. Views expressed in this table are not necessarily those of PercheBio.com