Tag Archives: chemicals

The devil in your dryer sheets

14 Apr

ghost dryer sheetPeople reach for dryer sheets to make their clothes soft, scented, and static-free. When I was in fashion school, we talked about dryer sheets in textiles class and our instructor explained that the coating on dryer sheets was nothing but scented wax that melted and very lightly coated our clothes.

Twenty years later, we know more and we know better.

The David Suzuki Foundation says that the synthetic perfumes used in dryer sheets are derived from petroleum-based ingredients, and they say, “once the scented air leaves your dryer vent and floats into your neighbourhood, it’s increasingly causing allergic reactions in people with chemical sensitivities.” (Chemical sensitivities are on the rise – I notice it, do you?).

Dr. Anne Steinemann, an internationally recognized scientist, Professor of Civil Engineering, and Chair of Sustainable Cities at the University of Melbourne, helps people create healthier living and working environments. In 2011, she published a study about the chemicals in laundry products and discovered an enormous and rather alarming range of chemicals:

  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
  • 1,4-dioxane: A recognized carcinogen
  • Chloromethane: A developmental toxin
  • 2-Butanone: A suspected toxicant
  • O, m, or p-cymene: A suspected toxicant
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS/SLES), and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS)
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE): Hormone disruptor
  • Phosphates: Major environmental health hazard
  • Optical brighteners

How is it legal to sell toxic concoctions like this, you ask? “Simple,” says Canadians for A Safe Learning Environment (CASLE), “It’s still very much an unregulated market. Manufacturers are not required to disclose any ingredients in cleaning supplies, air fresheners or laundry products. The fragrance industry is actually allowed to regulate itself (italics mine) through a trade association known as the International Fragrance Association.”

For modern readers with an eco-conscience, this should raise alarms. The CASLE article explains that though substances are tested on adults, it is only for skin reactions, not neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, or anything else. The group says that only 1300 out of more than 5000 ingredients used by the fragrance industry are tested and evaluated for safety.

“If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not,” says Dr. Steinemann.

Eco-friendly dryer and dryer sheet alternativesdo not tumble dry

I’m always on about air-drying clothing for environmental reasons and to protect clothing. Dry heat in the dryer causes shrinkage and damages your clothes; it eats away at garment colour and at fabric fibers. The stuff in the lint trap is actually small bits of your clothing that over time will cause your clothes to lose body, develop holes, and become thread-bare.

If you want your clothes to last, try some of these alternatives to electric clothes dryers and dryer sheets:

–> The old-fashioned way is always preferable: line-dry your clothes. Back yards and balconies are great for hanging clothes out on the line. For people who live in smaller spaces, try drying your clothes on a drying rack.

–> For an eco-friendly laundry softener, National Geographic’s Green Guide recommends adding a quarter cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to boost the laundry-softening properties, and reduce static cling.

–> Maddocks Holdings Limited, a Canadian industrial parts supplier makes PurEcosheets, reusable static eliminator sheets. One sheet will last through 500 tumble dries and reduce the amount of laundry waste in landfills. There are no chemicals in these sheets, so this reduces buildup in dryers and keeps them running efficiently.

–> Dryer balls are great to reduce drying time, soften clothes, reduce static, increase fluffiness, and make laundry a little more fun! Dryer balls are simply medium-sized balls of wool that bounce around clothes in the dryer and improve air flow. Order them online or make your own dryer balls for a cool project! Should you want scent to your laundry, simply add drops of essential oil to your dryer balls.

–> Lots of good, green laundry products on the Reuseit website.

So now you have a choice: toxic, wasteful, chemical-laden dryer sheets or reusable, inexpensive, and eco-friendly dryer products? Both options do the same thing, but the latter is non-toxic, leaves virtually no carbon footprint, and has no side effects. How could you not?

Anti-aging: Alternatives to Botox

1 Oct

syringeWhen I turned 40, my body started to do weird things. Hair growth patterns started to change, my energy levels changed, and most notably, my skin changed. I’ve been blessed with good genes, I don`t smoke, I eat well (I’m vegan), exercise, and I use organic skin products, so I think that I could look a lot worse, but I do see myself age and I understand how people feel once they start to physically and visually change.

I`m certainly not going to judge anyone for wanting to retain their youth – I`m doing it too, but I want to suggest some non-toxic anti-aging options for you to consider when the time comes. Before I go on, know that I err on the side of natural products and services for wellness, so this is my bias. I believe that there have to be better answers to anti-aging than having chemicals injected into the face to paralyze your muscles to keep wrinkles at bay, and that there are natural, effective, cruelty-free alternatives to toxic chemical concoctions that will not further spoil the earth.

Botox

If you look at the official Botox website, you`ll see lots of pictures of youthful-looking, Botox-injected women, and below that, the approved uses:  BOTOX® Cosmetic is a prescription medicine that is injected into muscles and used to temporarily improve the look of both moderate to severe crow’s feet lines and frown lines between the eyebrows in adults. 

Below that, you`ll see a really long list of warnings and side effects: IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: BOTOX® Cosmetic may cause serious side effects that can be life threatening . (Caps and bold text theirs.) Some of these side effects include problems swallowing, speaking, or breathing, muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids,  and hoarseness. What is particularly interesting here is that these side effects are just the same as the symptoms of the life-threatening type of botulism. This is not a coincidence. Botox is made from a neurotoxin that is produced by bacterium Costridium Botulinum – botulism bacteria. This means that people are having neurotoxins made of food-poisoning bacteria injected into their face so they look younger.

Does this seem weird to you? It does to me. Still, the treatment remains popular for wrinkle reduction. The latest stats I could find were from 2005, when 142,374 Botox injections were given in Canada, and it has been increasing in use since then.

Google “Botox”and the first thing you will see are ads selling it for $7 – $10 per dose. Seems like a good deal, then you may learn how many of these discount shots you’ll need. Apparently, the forehead “could require about 12 to 16 units; frown lines can take 25 to 30 units and crow’s feet need 12 to 15 units per eye (men will need almost double that amount)” according to Canadian Living. Let`s say it costs $900 for a man’s face. If the Botox treatment lasts for 3 – 4 months and you get treated four times a year, that’s $3600 a year for facial injections of botulism bacteria to make you look younger.

Non-toxic age-defying options

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my client, Dr. Greg Wells, the physiologist and sports television commentator, who offered me a glass of wine. I asked for a small pour and told him that if I have more than one glass of red wine, I feel as though I had ten, and wondered if I had developed an allergy.

”No,” he said, ”it’s the chemicals. There are chemicals in everything now and our bodies can have adverse reactions to them, that`s why you feel drunk after a glass of red.”

The vast majority of commercial grooming products, including skin care, consists of mostly water and chemicals. In fact, most of these mass-produced personal care products are made by chemical companies and our skin absorbs these products when we apply them. Have you noticed how many people now have allergies or sensitivities? The chemicals in personal care products can cause reactions in us like the red wine caused a reaction in me.

If this bothers you, read on. I’d like to introduce you to some options that I have tried myself and recommend.

Natural anti-aging options

Your first line of defense for youthful skin is your skin care regimen. A few years ago, I had a chance meeting with David Brooke, a partner at Skin Essence, an organic Canadian skin care company. David scheduled a demonstration of his products with me and I have been using Skin Essence products since then.

What I like about the line is that everything is organic and is made of natural extracts, oils, and minerals, free of all parabens, carcinogens, and sodium lauryl sulfate (often found in drug store personal care products as mentioned above). Skin Essence products are stored in tinted glass bottles to protect from UV light damage (as opposed to plastic containers which can leach chemicals into products), and their packaging is completely recyclable.

Skin Essence has a lot going for it but the best part is the results. Their line has specific products for dry, sensitive, and aging skin. I use their cleanser, eye serum, and facial moisturizer regularly, and my skin has greatly improved over time. For a woman over 40, this is good news, but what about the gents? One of my clients who leans toward natural products started using the eye serum and facial moisturizer and he’s happy with the results: ”I feel like a movie star every day!” he says.

Facial acupuncture

Facial acupuncture is an uncommon practice and requires extra accreditation. Compared to Botox, facial rejuvenation acupuncture is a non-toxic method of reducing wrinkles and signs of aging, and you`ll still be able to fully express through your face. I made an appointment to see Dr. Hilary Booth, naturopathic doctor at Toronto`s Darou Wellness to check out the procedure. Dr. Booth`s literature states that ”this treatment promotes a more youthful, glowing appearance by encouraging natural collagen production, increased circulation, and improved skin elasticity… and is noticeable after your first visit”. Indeed, my skin was noticeably smoother, tighter, and spongier after my first visit.

After a lengthy interview during the appointment, I lied on the table and Dr. Booth began the process. I had needles of varying thicknesses in my feet, legs, hands, and scalp, and dozens more in my face. Afterward, she gave me a cold compress to close facial blood vessels, then a warm compress to bring the blood back to the face, applied a lovely coconut, vitamin E, and rosehip oil blend, and gave a gentle head and neck massage. It’s a very relaxing treatment that works better on men than women, and the results last longer for men.

Neither Botox nor facial acupuncture is cheap, and like Botox, once is not enough. The first acupuncture  treatment ($200) lasts a mere 24 – 72 hours (I was sad to see my chin droop after a couple of days). After that, Dr. Booth recommends patients come in for 1 – 2 shorter treatments per week ($130 per treatment) for 4 – 6 weeks, then wean down to twice a month, then maintenance once a month. This treatment is not permanent and varies from person to person, skin condition to skin condition, and age, so some form of maintenance will have to continue. Again, men are better  off than women in this case because they have thicker skin which results in fewer facial wrinkles, and men don’t experience any loss of collagen like aging and post-menopausal women do.

If a person came in with deeply-lined skin did the full facial acupuncture treatment and monthly maintenance for a year, they would pay around $3250. Less than Botox, non-toxic, and no side effects; only the treatments take longer.

For anti-aging options, you be the judge.