Thursday, December 22, 2011

Part I: How Your Laundry Detergent is affecting Your Health

pink laundry detergentImage by :: Wendy :: via Flickr
Every year, detergent manufacturers pride themselves on formulating  more effective cleaning ingredients to give your clothes that clean, fresh smell, right? Hmm, but did you know that our families are being exposed to more and more potentially lethal chemicals in the process? With droves of people suffering from mysterious symptoms and allergies, could the root of the problem be in that new "improved" laundry detergent?

This post will take a look at two of the commonly used and most potentially dangerous chemicals: sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate and 1,4 dioxane.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfate  and sodium laureth sulfate are surfactants and emulsifiers that are used in many beauty and cleaning products.  (Sodium laureth sulfate is slightly less irritating).

Sulfates are found in many shampoos, body washes, soaps and lotions, creams  and hair preparations. Due to beauty concerns, such as the drying and stripping the hair of natural oils,  companies are formulating products that are  "sulfate free."  But, what are these things doing in such personal products, anyway? And, what is the extent of the damage that they can cause in the body?

What are Sulfates?
Sulfates are cheap foaming agents (that's always the bottom line, isn't it?) It has been classified by the Environmental Working Group as a "moderate hazard." Its health effects include: irritation of eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity and cellular changes, mutation and cancer.  Pretty scary isn't it?

To make matters worse, these ingredients can be masqueraded under many different names.  They include:

  • Sodium dodecyl sulfate
  • Sulfluric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt
  • Sodium salt sulfuric acid
  • Monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid
  • A13-00356
  • kyposal SDS
  • Aquarex ME
  • Aquarex methyl
This is really disgusting.  However, it really highlights the fact that label reading is important not only in the foods we eat, but the detergents and cleaners that we use.

1,4 Dioxane

1,4 dioxane is a byproduct of synthetic 1,4 dioxance which is created when laundry detergents and other cleaning products are cheaply manufactured using ethoxylation-a short-cut process in which chemicals are used to alter fatty acids to give them detergent properties. Since 1,4 dioxane is a by-product, it doesn't require lising on the product label! Can you see how these companies, and the FDA are playing games with our health?

Okay, now, what does this chemical do to our health? Well, 1,4 dioxane is considered a carcinogen in California. According to the CDC, it has been found to be potentially toxic to the brain and nervous system.  It also can damage the kidneys and liver (organs of excretion). It is also non-biodegradable, so it can accumulate in waterways.

What to do?

For  the health of yourself and family, read the labels. Your well-being is in your hands.

You may  pay more, but our health is worth the effort.


Dr. Mercola "Dangers of Laundry Detergent"

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