The environment in which we live is unfortunately filled with toxic substances that are often invisible. While some pollutants are well known to the general public, others are less familiar and hide in more unexpected products. Focus on 10 pollutants that surround us every day and which we must be wary of.
What is it ? Triclosan is an antibacterial used in many hygiene products, such as deodorants, toothpastes, soaps or hydro-alcoholic solutions.
Why should it be suspicious? Because it is an endocrine disruptor. A US study dating from 2013 showed that triclosan damaged muscle function and especially cardiac muscle. It could also disrupt the functioning of the thyroid. It would also contribute to increased resistance to antibiotics. Triclosan is finally very polluting for the environment and especially for the aquatic world.
How to protect yourself? Look carefully at the labels to see if it is present. It is also known as “Cloxifenolum”, “Irgasan” or “Lexol 300”.
What is it ? Teflon® is a registered trademark of polytetrafluoroethylene. Known for its non-stick properties, it is used to make stoves.
Why should it be suspicious? When using a high temperature Teflon® frying pan, it can emit toxic fluorinated gases. These gases may contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a substance classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “possibly carcinogenic” to the testicle and kidney. Teflon® contains perfluorinated compounds which could be harmful to the pregnant woman. In addition, it would promote the overweight of children and the birth of small babies.
How to protect yourself? It is best to exchange your Teflon stove for a stainless steel or natural cast iron stove. If this is not possible, cooking with wooden utensils does not damage the coating and change your Teflon stove as soon as it is damaged.
What is it ? Formaldehyde is a highly volatile colorless gas. It is found in paints, varnishes and floor finishes, household products, adhesives, tobacco smoke, wood stoves, nail polish. It releases itself little by little from these products and comes to pollute the air inside.
Why should it be suspicious? Formaldehyde irritates eyes and respiratory voices. In the long term, it may increase the risk of developing asthma or allergies. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has even classified it as “known human carcinogen” for cancers of the nasopharynx by inhalation and for leukemia.
How to protect yourself? Use as much as possible for furniture made of solid wood or chipboard of class E1. If possible, do not immediately put the furniture in your home so that it does not emit toxic gas, or opt for second-hand furniture. Use eco-labeled or class A + products for your work, do not smoke in your home and ventilate your home for at least 15 minutes a day.
What is it? Pyrethroids are synthetic molecules used in insecticide products that are found in agriculture as well as in mosquito bombs or anti-lice shampoos. Pyrethroids permeate the interior of the house for a long time.
Why should it be suspicious? Because they are bad for the nervous system. A 2006 Inserm study found that children exposed during pregnancy or childhood to household insecticides or anti-lice shampoos are twice as likely to develop childhood leukemia. Another Inserm study demonstrated that anti-lice shampoos could lower the cognitive abilities of children.
How to protect yourself? Avoid insecticides if you are pregnant or have small children. Think of the mosquito net around the bed and windows. For the lice: make a mixture of white vinegar (attention to the eyes) and essential oil of lavender (to smother the lice).
What is it ? Phenoxyethanol is a preservative found in cosmetics such as toothpaste, shampoo, creams and baby wipes.
Why should it be suspicious? Phenoxyethanol is considered to be toxic to blood and liver, according to a report by the National Agency for the Safety of Medicine dating from 2012. The latter is absorbed by oral and dermal route. ANSM recommended reducing the level of phenoxyethanol to 0.4% in products (currently 1%) and completely removing products for the seat (especially for babies). Unfortunately, this recommendation has not been followed, at least not by all manufacturers.
How to protect yourself? For baby wipes, try to choose without phenoxyethanol. Phenoxyethanol may also be referred to as “phenoxytol” or “EgphE”.
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What is it ? Cadmium is a heavy metal. It is emitted by volcanoes, but also created by industrial activities. It is found both in the environment, as in water and food (rice, fish, green foliage), as well as in batteries, tobacco smoke, photovoltaic panels, pigments or even lipstick.
Why should it be suspicious? Cadmium is a known carcinogen to the lungs, kidney and prostate.
How to protect yourself? It is complicated to avoid it in the environment, but one can act for example on cosmetics, choosing eco-labeled makeup.
What is it? Nanoparticles are very small components (10,000 times smaller than a hair). They are found in more than a thousand products, such as sunscreens, they give a texture that leaves no white traces on the skin. It can also be found in candies with titanium dioxide.
Why should it be suspicious? The health consequences of nanoparticles are still little known, but the danger would come from their small size which would allow them to pass through the barriers of the body. In animals, carcinogenic effects have been demonstrated. In humans, a report by the National Sanitary Security Agency is concerned about the unrecognized effects of these nanoparticles.
How to protect yourself? Again, since they are diluted in the environment and are found, for example, in our drinking water, it is complicated to avoid them. As for sunscreens, caution would like to advise you to fall back on organic, trusting the labels only.
What is it? PCBs (also known as pyralenes) are chemicals used since the 1930s in insulation, radiators, welds, paints, etc. Prohibited since 1987, they are always present in our environment and especially the soils and rivers. They are found in milk, dairy products, eggs, meat and fatty fish.
Why should it be suspicious? Because it has been proven to be carcinogenic, to promote metastasis, to disrupt the thyroid, to diminish immunity, to cause delays in brain development, delays in pregnancy or malformations, and to promote hyper-insulinism.
How to protect yourself? ANSES recommends to consume fresh water fish (eel, barbell, carp, catfish and bream) once every 2 months for women of childbearing age, pregnant or nursing, ditto Under-3s, girls and teenagers. Consumption recommendations are 2 times per month for the rest of the population. Also beware of large predatory fish at sea (shark, swordfish and mackerel).
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Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers.
What is it? Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) are the most commonly used flame retardants. They are found in mattresses, fabrics, upholstered furniture, televisions, computers, clothing and soft toys.
Why should it be suspicious? PBDEs are suspected of being endocrine disruptors. They would alter in particular the functioning of the thyroid hormones, which are essential in the development of the nervous system of the adult, but also of the fetus and the infant. Studies have shown that the children most exposed to PBDEs then had the lowest scores on physical and mental development tests. It has also been demonstrated in animals that PBDEs have proven or suspected reproductive, thyroid or immune system toxicity. They would be potentially carcinogenic and neurotoxic.
How to protect yourself? ANSES recommended the use of alternative techniques to reduce the risk of fire in dwellings. But as a consumer, it is impossible to know if there are in the furniture that we buy. Better is prudence to fall back on an Indian production, even if there is no guarantee. The ideal is to ventilate your house 15 minutes a day minimum in the morning or in the evening.
What is it? Glyphosate is a herbicide that is an active ingredient in Roundup, Monsanto’s most widely used herbicide in the world, both by large farmers and by gardeners on Sundays.
Why should it be suspicious? Classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Glyphosate is thought to be involved in the development of many pathologies, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma or late spontaneous abortions.
How to protect yourself? Weeding by hand, with a pitchfork and spade, especially if you are old enough to conceive or pregnant. For small areas, you can use hot potato cooking water or a liter of white vinegar mixed with half a liter of water. You can finally put coarse salt at the foot of unwanted plants.
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