The Truth About Phthalates and Parabens
Chemical preservatives and plasticizers are a part of our everyday lives. In fact, there are traces of these toxins in 75 to 90 percent of the products sold in the United States today. Plastic products that you use daily such as household items, cleaning supplies, and personal-care products contain numerous amounts of toxins harmful to human health. Many toxins are hard to eliminate completely, however, reducing your exposure to products containing these unnatural substances may benefit you in the long run. Below, I’ll go over two of the most common industrial chemicals—phthalates and parabens— and some easy ways to remove them from your life.
Toxins Within Phthalates
Phthalates are a combination of chemicals that make many plastic products soft, pliable, and durable, such as plastic bottles and food packaging. You probably were not aware that these things could be toxic to your health, but by eating, drinking, or using products that contain phthalates, you increase your chances of developing health issues.
These plastics contain many harmful chemicals that give them the ability to withstand certain levels of heat. Many plastic food containers say they are dishwasher and microwave “safe,” meaning that they won’t fall apart during washing, but that doesn’t mean they are safe for humans. You have probably heard that you should not microwave food in plastic containers or drink from a hot plastic bottle found in your car. Well, there is a valid reason for that! When exposed to heat, it speeds up phthalate migration from the container into the food or water inside, making them highly toxic to consume. If consumed, these toxins enter the bloodstream which may lead to a host of health problems over time, such as neurological and hormonal disorders.
Making the Switch
The use of plastic and plasticized products in any state can cause damage to your overall health. They have strong potential for estrogenic activity, meaning that they can lead to estrogen-dependent health conditions. Phthalates may disrupt hormone functions, affect fertility, and may even cause breast cancer! Luckily, avoiding exposure to phthalates can be easy. Simply eliminate your use of plastic in the kitchen such as cooking utensils, disposable plasticware, and plastic food containers. Instead, use glassware, ceramic, or metal cooking products to lessen your contact with phthalates and other dangerous toxins. In the bathroom, opt for natural cleaners stored in glass rather than plastic and be mindful of soap and cosmetics packaging.
Parabens are a toxic group of man-made chemical preservatives that can be found in most personal-care products such as shampoo, perfume, deodorant, makeup, and even baby products. Large amounts of parabens reside in items that are biodegradable. They act as preservatives in products with high water content to reduce the number of harmful bacteria and mold that may grow within, increasing the shelf life of the products.
Ever notice that many care products are now advertised as paraben or fragrance-free? Parabens can also act as a fragrant ingredient to mask the natural chemical smells of the product. Parabens are the reason why your shampoo smells like jasmine, or your hand soap smells like lemons. These chemicals and added fragrances are absorbed through the skin which then enters the bloodstream where they can do harm to your body. Like phthalates, parabens are estrogenic, but their estrogenic activity is much weaker. Now, this does not mean that parabens are any less harmful than phthalates. Parabens are in many things that you may use multiple times a day, therefore, your exposure to parabens could be much higher than your exposure to phthalates. Products that contain parabens can be harmful to your skin, brain development, hormone production, and affect reproductive organs. Traces of synthetic parabens have also been found in malignant breast tumors close to the underarm area where deodorant is applied, progressing to many stages of breast cancers.
How to Eliminate Parabens from Your Life
There is a wide variety of paraben-free or fragrance-free products available in stores today that you can use in place of products that contain harsh chemicals. If those products are not available to you, make sure to check out the product’s ingredient list to eliminate those with traces of parabens and other toxic ingredients. Opt for cleaner, more organic options instead!
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