Today’s blog will address a subject that I focus on often – the dangerous “chemical soup” we all live in. It’s not often that I wake up in the morning and my inbox presents me with multiple stories from mainstream media outlets that align closely with the way I think about chemical exposure in our lives. In fact, I have been disheartened lately at the amount of tacit media support for the DARK act which passed the Senate basically precluding American consumers from knowing if there are any GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in their food. I have written about GMOs before.
But Today was not one of those days. The following New York Times headline greeted me when I woke up – Their Hair Fell Out. Should the F.D.A. Have The Power to Act? This would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. I have blogged before about our personal care products and the effects they can have on our whole body. But let’s be honest – if your hair started falling out, would you truly look at your shampoo? Ironically, I had a client who used the exact product mentioned in the article with similar results. Shampoo and conditioner are not the only reason for hair and scalp issues – there are serious medical conditions which require the attention of a medical professional. But please, consider your products also. In my practice, I have also seen acne disappear when a client switched to a “cleaner” skin care line.
Can I guarantee that if you stop using the product highlighted in the NYT that all will be well? Absolutely not. But I can guarantee that paying attention to what you use for washing, grooming, deodorizing and beautifying has to become a key component of your overall well being. If you read the NYT article, you will understand that our government’s oversight of the personal care industry is minimal and often non-existent leaving companies to self police. The following insight from the article was especially powerful:
“That is in part because unlike pharmaceutical companies, cosmetic companies are not required to notify the government of “adverse reaction” reports — even if someone dies.”
I hope you are as taken aback by this as I was. Hair loss is one thing, but death – that’s a whole other ballgame.
Let me remind you that over 87,000 chemicals are approved for use in the United States today and we find these all around us – not only in our personal care products, but in cleaning solutions, furniture, clothing, carpeting, cars, lawn and garden supplies and many others. Yearly, the EPA approves hundreds and sometimes thousands more. Many other countries, in Europe and elsewhere, have much more stringent regulations in this area, leaving Americans more vulnerable to toxic exposure.
The irony is that today we have many tools which help us identify if something is “clean” or “dirty”; one click can help us figure out if a product contains ingredients which have been shown to have deleterious effects on our health. Ignorance is inexcusable. My favorite in this space is the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) with their online resources and smartphone apps allowing us to search and/or scan products to figure out if they are safe to use. You can download their SKINDEEP and/or HEALTHY LIVING apps onto your smartphone – these rate tens of thousands of personal care products for toxins, carcinogens and allergens. For more information, you can also visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (http://www.safecosmetics.org) website. Start “cleaning up” your soaps, shampoo, shaving creams, lotions and cosmetics – lucky for us many safe alternatives are available today.
Don’t wait for your hair to fall out to take action. Better be safe than sorry.