ON A PERSONAL NOTE/Greed — profit over people
Part three of a four-part series
I started writing this series because of learning that manufacturers of certain plastics were continuing to make baby bottles, pacifiers,
food containers, and such that were actually causing severe health problems. And the knowledge of these health problems had been known for years, which led me to the topic heading of Profit over People.
Some of us may still find it hard to believe that the makers of items for babies, not just for full grown adults, are still using toxic substances — proven to be toxic — that can cause the kind of health problems that not only make it problematic to get through babyhood, but those problems can continue through childhood and adulthood and can even cause death.
Why would they do that? It’s all about money. Apparently it is cheaper to use the toxic substances they use instead of developing non-toxic products that are 100 percent baby-safe and safe for all who use them.
So now we know why a company (a brand name) or those who have successfully been marketing and selling a type of item, will wait until someone sues them to stop making the product because they don’t want to lose all that profit in the interim. We’ve seen those class action lawsuits on TV even years after a product has been assumed safe since it was still out there with no indication of its dangers. One of the big concerns is that many of those toxins are carcinogens. A carcinogen is defined as a substance that can cause cancer.
Some chemicals found in everyday items have known carcinogenic properties (such as endocrine disruptors), but rather than going with “safety first,” companies (particularly in the U.S.) are allowed to continue using those chemicals to make products — even those that are regularly used by children.
Other dangers are volatile organic compounds, also called VOCs, which are emitted in vapor form from some common household items, which means you may be breathing them anytime you’re in the house.
Concentrations of VOCs can be up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, and they can cause both short- and long-term health problems (particularly in the respiratory system).
Here’s a look at some of the products that can contribute to inflammation, cancer, and disease in general.
1. Your MATTRESS. Often made with chemical-laden flame retardant treatments done in the name of safety, but, in reality, most flame retardants release chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are bad news that can lead to thyroid, liver, and brain issues in animal studies and potentially cancer as well. PBDEs can build up within the body and research has even found them in breast milk. Two materials to watch out for are polyurethane foam and synthetic latex since they release VOCs that you will breathe in as you sleep. Consider: When getting your next mattress, avoid those with polyurethane foam and flame retardants. Choose toxin-free products that have been tested for no VOC emissions. Until then, open bedroom windows for venting.
2.Your PILLOWS. Similar problems as your mattress. Those toxins can also cause dermatitis. But consider that pillows have also been known to contain fungi—many different strains in both feather and synthetic pillows, but mainly Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause anything up to asthma. Consider: Choose instead a natural, non-toxic filling and cover (organic is always best since cotton is a GMO, high pesticide crop).
3. Your CLOTHING. Remember, manufacturers and retailers think profit first, then safety, if at all. Be your own detective and Buyer Beware!
The clothing you put on everyday is more than just a fashion statement or a comfortable pair of sweatpants. It has the potential to be loaded with dozens of unseen health-harming chemicals. And while what the clothing may be made from is bad enough, the products you use ON your clothing can end up being worse. Conventional fabric softeners contain quaternary ammonium compounds that can trigger asthma and harm the reproductive system. Dryer sheets aren’t much better. The fragrance can cause respiratory distress and headaches, and contribute to air pollution when vented outside. Dry-cleaning can be worst of all, using perchloroethylene (PCE), the common dry-cleaning chemical that remains on the clothing and can likely cause cancer. Consider: Switch to organic wool dryer balls. Better all around. And don’t forget to read the label on the detergent you choose. Fragrance-free is always best.
4. Your CELL PHONE. Most dangerous at night. Emits radio frequency radiation (RFR), which has been linked to cancer. Having your cell phone on and near you at night exposes you to it all night long and can disrupt your sleep. Lack of sleep causes its own problems. Also, the “blue light” from the phone may contribute to cancer, heart problems, diabetes, and other conditions. Consider: Do NOT keep that phone close to you when sleeping. Avoid using it a couple of hours before bed for better sleep.
5. Your SHOWER CURTAIN. Many plastic (vinyl) shower curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which contain chemicals like phthalates, organotin, and VOCs which likely are being constantly emitted into your bathroom. The phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, asthma, allergies, and are also potential carcinogens. Consider: Replace vinyl shower curtains with non-vinyl, PVC-free ones.
6. Your SHAVING CREAM OR GEL. They also contain phthalates, but even more, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they can accumulate in the environment and in your body. Many US-made products have ceased production because of being linked to reproductive, developmental, liver, kidney, and immune problems.
HOWEVER, imported products may still contain them, and just as with those (so-called) BPA-free products, the replacement products
(PFAS-free) offer no evidence that they are safer. Also, consider the other hazardous ingredients such as the fragrance, BHT, formaldehyde and benzene. (Those preservatives are linked to cancer, skin allergies, birth defects and more.) Consider: Coconut oil can work as well as shaving cream, and if you need a gel, try aloe vera gel.
7. Your TOILET BOWL CLEANER AND OTHERS. Cleaning products may clean up some toxins and germs, but they often contain some of the worst chemicals that can harm your health as you breathe them in, such as hydrochloric acid, ethanolamines, phosphoric acid, and potassium hydroxide. Those chemicals can cause skin irritation, burns, and if they get into your eyes, blindness. The fumes can cause respiratory distress/asthma and a decrease in lung function. Consider: Return to the cleaning products of the past, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Or at least check out NON-TOXIC cleaners.
8. Your MAKEUP AND COSMETICS. Just a short list of what most contain: lead, aluminum, chromium, and cadmium. Lead alone is linked to neurotoxic and developmental issues. Eye makeup and foundation are likely sources of those PFAS chemicals, and nail polish can contain several irritants like potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene, to say nothing of the flame retardant, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). Consider: Read labels and look for “7-Free” on the nail polish label (which should not have TPHP), but always choose organic products for all cosmetic needs, free of non-toxic substances, before reaching for those brand names.
As you can see, there’s just about no end to what we use in our ordinary, everyday lives that can be contributing to our ill health in
any number of ways. And we are still not near the end of this list.
Hopefully next week I can end this series after covering most of the other common problems that we’ve had to endure from those
manufacturers of products who put profit before people.
It has really become so very, very, true that we must take that warning to heart: BUYER BEWARE!
Next week: The last episode with Part 4 of Profit over People.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.