How many times a day do your visit the bathroom?
A daily shower, a few passes with a toothbrush, the hair and make-up routine, and the numerous trips to the toilet can add up. And even though most trips to the loo may take less time than it takes to read this article, you may be exposing yourself to an array of toxins that can take a toll on your health over time.
This seemingly innocuous room – whether at home, work, a store or restaurant – can be loaded with toxins that pose a threat to your health.
The real kicker is that a lot of those toxins are self-inflicted. You’re making the conscious decision to expose yourself to an array of toxins.
Let’s take a look at where the toxins are hiding.
You might not refer to it as the water closet like the Brits, but what other room in the house is associated with as much of the liquid stuff? Between the showering/bathing and hand washing, that’s an awful lot of skin exposure.
And even if the water comes out of the tap looking pristine and clean, there’s a good chance it’s harboring invisible toxins. The main culprits are chlorine, fluoride and heavy metals.
Chlorination is done to municipal water to control the risk of harmful microorganisms, like E. coli and coliform. But when chlorine mixes with organic matter in the water, you get disinfection by-products (DBPs) – one of them is chloroform, yikes! – that are highly carcinogenic.
If your water supply has undergone fluoridation, you should know that fluoride is a cumulative poison that impairs the immune system, weakens the musculoskeletal system and it’s a neurotoxin.
Think you’re safe because you don’t drink the water coming from the bathroom? Think again. You’re being poisoned by skin absorption and water vapor inhalation.
You can limit the exposure by taking shorter showers, but you’ll be doing an even better job by filtering out the toxins. Get your water tested so you know what type of water filtration system best suites your water supply.
Keeping your pearly whites healthy takes a bit of work. It’s no longer about brushing and flossing anymore. The oral healthcare sector has boomed over the past decade to address various dental issues.
But this also means a huge jump in chemicals that pose health risks – even if you don’t swallow. The mucosal lining of the mouth is a fast track for absorbed substances to get into the bloodstream.
Just like the fluoride in your tap water, you’ll also want to stay clear of fluoride in tooth pastes and oral rinses, especially for children under 6 years old who are more likely to swallow.
Keep your eyes peeled for triclosan, a chemical antibacterial. It’s also a common ingredient in soaps, deodorants and other household staples that fare better to avoid bacteria (towels, mattresses, plastic food containers).
Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to ill liver health, and even low level exposure can disrupt thyroid function. It was first registered in 1969 with the EPA as a pesticide. No way do you want that in your mouth!
Another toxin to look out for is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a surfactant that makes toothpaste foam. But does the foaming action really prove anything? NO. And you can definitely do without it.
The Environmental Working Group recognizes SLS as a neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor and possible mutagenic.
You can find alternative toothpastes and tooth powders that don’t have these toxic ingredients. They tend to cost a little more, but when you calculate the cost per brush, it’s still just pennies. Totally worth it!
Personal Care Products
This covers a wide range of body soaps, lotions, deodorants and more. And the synthetic chemicals with potential risks to human health abound.
Be wary of aluminum in deodorants and antiperspirants. Aluminum plugs the pores in your armpits so perspiration doesn’t mix with the bacteria on the skin to cause body odor. But research suggests that aluminum can accumulate in breast tissue where it can interfere with estrogen receptors and alter DNA.
Equally concerning is the use of parabens in antiperspirants. These chemical preservatives are endocrine disruptors with correlations to breast cancer risk. You can also find them abundantly in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, sunscreens and cosmetics.
Polyethylene glycol (PEGs) are a class of polymers common in industrial applications like tire sealants, rubber cleaners, adhesives, paints and solvents. It’s recognized as a skin irritant on material safety data sheets for industrial uses. So why is it an acceptable ingredient in personal care products? PEGs are notorious for containing undesirable impurities such as heavy metals. They can also contribute to liver and kidney damage. PEGs frequently pop up on shampoo bottles, so beware the next time you lather, rinse, repeat.
Not knowing what you’re exposing your skin to could be slowly taking its toll on your body. That thin layer of skin that covers you from head to toe happens to be your largest organ. But the highly porous surface is like a gigantic sponge, absorbing just about everything you put on it – toxic chemicals included.
Consider overhauling your beauty and skin care routine to limit your risk of exposure.