Wednesday, July 4, 2007

My Chemical Romance

I'm in the middle of two books right now that have me scared shitless about the products in my home. I'll start with Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck.

It's no secret that I am a lousy housekeeper. My friends and family come over and will spend part of their visit either giving me tips for keeping a clean abode, or they will help me clean my abode. My goal for the future is to keep my guests from doing this, so they can just relax and drink good wine.

Anyhoo, one of the reasons I picked up Organic Housekeeping is that, as a lifelong asthmatic and allergy sufferer, I thought it would be a good idea to eliminate as many toxic chemicals from my cleaning supplies and replace them with natural, affective alternatives.

So I'm in the middle of the chapter on the chemicals most dangerous to our environment and I come across this list:
  • Acetone, which is found in many nail polish removers. Can cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, and reproductive system.
  • Glycol ethers, found in many skin care and hair care products, are also used as antifreeze and in brake and hydraulic fluid. Can cause kidney and liver damage as well as intestinal distress. These chemicals are also used in toothpastes.
  • Tricolsan, the main ingredient in many antibacterial products, degrades into a form of dioxin.

As I washed up this evening, I inspected the labels of my favorite shampoo, conditioner, and facial cleanser. Both of them contain glycol ethers. I was too scared to examine my toothpaste ingredients. I may as well be cleansing with Prestone.

I found two bottles of nail polish remover in my bathroom cabinet and immediately disposed of those--in the trash, not down the drain, out of fear of polluting my local water supply. I was not distraught over this, as I am a nail-biter and rarely use nail polish.

Now before you think I'm getting out of hand or am being irrational about these fears, let me add that Ms. Sandbeck provides an extensive bibliography at the end of her book, full of websites, books, and magazine articles.

However, I'm not scared enough to stop using my favorite shampoo or facial cleanser. My skin and hair are in the best condition they've ever been.

In my next post I shall write about the other book I'm reading that's got me scared about the food I consume. I may as well drop everything and move back to the prairie a la Laura Ingalls after all.

No comments: