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Not so spotless

Grab a nearby cleaning (or personal care) product.

If it bothers to list its ingredients, you will see it consists of a sometimes quite dazzling collection of mysterious chemicals. Many people assume that these impressive lists compose substances that, since they are being sold, are known to be safe to use. The truth is:

A brief history of synthetic chemicals

So it should come as no surprise that most poisonings involve everyday household items such as cleaning supplies, cosmetics and personal care items.


Consider this data from the 2000 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centres’ Toxic Exposure Surveillance System:

Even without accidentally ingesting these products, by choosing to buy and use them we are constantly exposed to them in our homes, exposing ourselves to long-term effects. Indoor air pollution levels can be up to 500 times that of outdoors. Many studies have shown how hundreds of synthetic chemicals are now commonly found stored in human adipose tissue, forming a build-up of toxins that is linked to cancers and other diseases that have been massively on the rise at the same time as we’ve been using more and more of these products. (As just one example, formaldehyde, common in household products, has accumulated in our bodies so that we now take much longer to decompose. Formaldehyde is an irritant and carcinogen that is linked to a number of health problems and is found in fabric softeners, dishwashing detergents and many many other products. If listed at all, it is often called by other names on labels.)

Outside our homes these poisonous substances continue to cause problems. They:

Personal “care”(?)

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