BETWEEN a good old fashioned spring cleaning and our Covid-related reliance on hand sanitizer, cleanliness is a top priority for many of us.
But is there such a thing as a too-clean thing?
Scientists in Norway seem to think so. A 20-year study found a clear link between using toxic cleaning products and the risk of developing lung problems.
The researchers found that people who worked as professional cleaners with cleaning sprays suffered as much lung damage as someone who smoked 20 cigarettes a day.
This is thought to be due to the chemicals in cleaning products aggravating the lining of the airways.
TO CLEAN UP
As important as a good exfoliation is, Professor Paul Morgan, Director of Systemic Immunity at Cardiff University, suggests taking a more measured approach when cleansing.
“Our immune system has to learn to react to germs early in life,” he says.
“Exposure to everyday germs, house dust, and pollen, which activate the immune system, trains it to respond appropriately to these foreign things without responding to itself.
“Failing this puts the individual at increased risk of allergies and other diseases caused by immune system dysfunction later in life.
“Research has shown that children raised on farms train their immune systems better than children raised in sparkling clean homes with no messy pets, for example.”
While it’s impossible to give up cleaning products entirely – especially when we’re still dealing with Covid – we’re starting to find healthier alternatives to balance our daily exposure.
It’s known as toxic trading, which focuses on balancing the amount of toxic chemicals we come in contact with.
For example, while we use bleach to clean the bathroom, we may choose natural skin care or an organic diet to give our health a break in another area.
The sustainable lifestyle brand Content Beauty has noticed this change.
They reported a 900% increase in sales of organic bed linen after lockdown.
“Our customers shop based on an ethos that aligns with their primary lifestyle choices,” explains founder Imelda Burke.
“We’re finding that, alongside their bodies, people are increasingly concerned about the toxin load on the planet.”
Bide, a natural cleaning products company, values well-being.
Founder Amelia Gammon says, “Our consumers tell us they are confused about what is and isn’t toxic and want to be less concerned about what’s important for cleaning products given the high frequency of their use throughout the home.”
Since the pandemic began, sales of natural cleansing products have increased by 106% and the beauty industry has seen a marked shift in “clean” skincare with a big focus on ingredient transparency and environmental standards.
It’s not uncommon to find toxic ingredients like polyethylene (a melted plastic) in lipstick, triclosan (a synthetic antibacterial agent linked to some cancers) in deodorants, and methylisothiazolinone (a preservative linked to dermatitis) in see shampoos.
3 WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR TOXIC EXPOSURE
- Build a base
If you’re having a hard time parting with your synthetic beauty products, apply a layer of natural lip balm before applying your lipstick to act as a barrier.
2. Start small
You don’t have to replace everything at once. Start with the products that omit the most toxins your skin comes in contact with, like everyday deodorant, shampoo, and surface cleaners.
3. Do your research
Don’t be put off by long words — some acids and chemical-sounding ingredients are found in natural skincare that aren’t harmful. So check EWG’s Skin Deep database to see if they’re safe.
Since the rate of chemical absorption on our scalp is up to four times the rate of absorption on our underarms, lathering can significantly increase our body’s toxic load.
Natural deodorant has seen a surge in interest from people who are conscious of what they are putting on the delicate underarm area.
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare’s aluminum-free Botanical Cream Deodorant has gained cult status since its launch in 2016.
“We’ve found that more people are willing to try a natural deodorant when they’re in their own home rather than going back to their old synthetic product,” said Antonia Knox, brand expert and spokesperson for Aurelia Probiotic Skincare.
ABOVE THE THRESHOLD
But surely our bodies are, to some extent, equipped to deal with environmental aggressors?
“Everything is a chemical, including water,” explains Imelda.
“Toxicity is about dosage. Whilst nothing sold within the UK and EU should contain ‘toxins’ as these are rigorously tested, people’s concern is an accumulating effect of certain ingredients over a lifetime of use.
“Yes, although the primary function of the liver is detoxification, in the case of talc (and other ingredients) that function can be bypassed depending on where on the body the product is used.
“The main job of the liver is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract before it is sent to the rest of the body.
“In the case of talc used on the intimate area, for example – and possibly ingredients that can be absorbed through the skin – they are unlikely to pass through the digestive tract and therefore may go undetected.”
Although Professor Morgan assures us that “exposure to household chemicals would need to be massive and sustained to have any significant impact,” there are still steps you can take to reduce your exposure to toxins.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8758573/clean-can-be-toxic/ I’m a germ expert – that’s why you cleaned your house EVERYTHING wrong