Harmful Ingredients in Our Daily Products-Part 2

Posted on 2013-09-07 06:35:20

Some of the chemicals known or suspected to be harmful that we should watch out for include the following: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These are flame-retardants are chemicals added to products such as electronics, toys and padding for pillows and cushions to reduce likelihood of combustion. They aim to protect, however, the same chemicals have been associated with poor brain development, poor learning behavior and memory problems. PBDEs should be avoided by ensuring that children are not constantly putting electronic like phones and remote controls in their mouths, and old pillows and cushions should be reupholstered. Arsenic. Has been linked to bladder, kidney, skin and lung cancers. Arsenic is found in both apple and grape juice and in rice and rice products contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic and by pesticides containing arsenic. Formaldehyde. This is used in several household products such as MDF furniture, a component of glue and adhesives, permanent draperies, brands of baby wipes and some cleaning products. Furniture made of MDF must be avoided and for mothers who must use baby wipes, please check the ingredients of the products that you are buying. Mercury. This enters the environment by air pollution and industrial waste. Exposure occurs mainly from eating shellfish and large predatory fish (shark sword fish), as these concentrate mercury in their tissues. When exposure to mercury occurs neural development is impaired and it is very important that in pregnancy and early childhood there should be elimination of exposure to mercury. Older thermometers that have mercury should be changed. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates .BPA in the past was used to make baby bottles and children drinking cups. These days it is used in some plastic, especially those marked with recycle codes 3 or 7, often in water bottles and food storage containers, as well as an inner lining of cans used to package foods and drinks. These plastics may also be used in other products such as shower curtains, raincoats; back packs and also preserves the scents of soap, lotions and perfumes. Phthalates resurface in the use on wires and cables in order to make the plastic encasing them soft, easy to bend and flexible. The concern with BPA is that some research has shown it can interfere with brain and prostate gland development in smaller children and fetuses during pregnancy. It is thought that over time BPA can leech from degenerating plastic especially when it is exposed to high temperatures. This is the basis for the common concern with warming food in plastic containers in the microwave. To reduce exposure, one should use porcelain and glass in microwaves, reduce on intake of canned foods and avoid reusing plastics with recycle codes 3 and 7 especially with hot foods and drinks. Fluoride. This is a useful component of our diet. It is essential in keeping tooth decay at bay. However, too much or too little fluoride will cause problems. A little fluoride in drinking water and toothpaste is beneficial in preventing tooth decay in children. Too much results in tooth damage, which when severe leads to brown staining and “pits” formation, as if over longer periods of exposure, leads to fluorinated bones- pain and joint stiffness, tendon hardening and bone brittleness. In some communities where wells and boreholes are common, the water may have too little (commoner in wet highland areas with shallow wells) or too much (common in dry areas with deeper boreholes). Having a water specialist measure the fluoride levels of well and borehole water is essential in order to guide communities on use. Pesticides. These are used to kill insects and weeds. They tend to leak into ground water, and get consumed in food and drinking water. Because of their small size, children are most susceptible. Pesticides have been linked to neuronal developmental problems, leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Perchlorate. This is industrial chemical used in bleach, and fertilizers. Contamination occurs normally through ground water, surface water and drinking water. It affects thyroid hormone production that is needed for growth and development. The iodine supplemented in modern salt will counter the effect of perchlorate. Lead. This can cause nerve damage, delayed growth and kidney damage. The main cause of lead contamination is paints and toys. Most paints these days are lead free, but consumers need to be on the watch out for paints supplied by unscrupulous dealers. Every once in a while toys are contaminated by lead through cheap paints/ colors. As recently as September 2012, a large batch of toys was recalled due to lead contamination.