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Are You Concerned About Chemicals?

At this point, we have all heard about BPA—bisphenol A—a chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics since the 1960s.

Many manufacturers have since removed this chemical from plastic products and some states have banned its use in baby products because research has shown that BPA can leech into food or beverages.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exposure to BPA is a concern because it may harm children. Specifically, research has shown a link between BPA and possible health effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure (Mayo Clinic).

There are many chemicals used in the manufacturing of plastics that can be harmful to humans. Other potentially harmful chemicals are phthalates (pronounced "thah-lates") and parabens.


Toxins to Watch Out For

Phthalates are chemical plasticizers used to soften plastics that would otherwise be brittle and crack when bent. Phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastics they're added to, which means they are continuously released into the air, food, or liquid.

Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products; they stop fungus, bacteria, and other microbes from growing.

It’s not clear how harmful these chemicals are because, according to the Washington Post, while some scientists say the chemicals are safe, others suspect that chemicals such as phthalates and parabens can interfere with the body’s hormones, most notably reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. The possible health risks could include chronic diseases, cancers, and a host of developmental disorders and fertility problems.

If you choose to remove these potentially toxic chemicals from your bathroom and cleaning closet, there are a number of ways to check your products. There are several apps that can help you educate yourself on the products in your house, but one of the best is the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living app. By using this app, you will be able to scan products in your home to find out valuable information about them. 

If you are not an app user, you can go to the EWG’s website to research products and get a list of those with fewer chemicals in them. By checking out the EWG Skin Deep database, you will be able to view your current products and if you decide you want to replace them, you can find less toxic options based on a wide range of guidelines. 

In addition to gaining a better understanding of the chemicals in your products, the EWG website and apps also give insight into chemicals found in common foods.

Are low-calorie sweeteners safe? What foods contain propyl paraben—an endocrine disruptor? All this information and more is available through EWG, a trusted source for all things chemical. Dive in and learn as much or as little as you want.

What products have you switched out in your home? Visit our Women's Health Blog for more tips on keeping your family safe from chemicals and toxins, and be sure to share your experiences!