FATIMA RAMIREZ/Coachella Unincorporated
THERMAL, Calif. – Shampoo. Beauty products. Household cleansers. On a typical day, most people use about 20 products such as these before they even leave their homes.
While these products have become a crucial part of the daily routine, they can include an array of harmful toxins and chemicals that could be hurting more than they are helping.
At the recent Environmental Health Leadership Summit, guest speaker Martha Dina Arguello stated, “Many of these toxins can lead to allergic reactions, an increased probability of asthma and other respiratory problems.”
Arguello is the executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, an organization working to protect public health from environmental toxins.
Cleaning products and food pesticides, for instance, tend to have the greatest impact due to the way they are used. Often, the chemicals in cleaning products leave residue that, in turn, penetrates carpets and furniture.
An even bigger problem is created for children because they spend a great deal of time around ground surfaces; this, along with developing lungs, creates a perfect base for future health concerns.
Food pesticides are extremely dangerous for both consumers and farm workers. Pesticides are designed to kill, so even at small doses, they are still a cause for concern.
According to Arguello, there are about 100,000 chemicals in the market. About 85,000 of these are used in high production. There are also 2,000 new chemicals brought to the market each year, but less than 10 percent are fully tested to find out if they pose potential health issues.
“The reason for why the public still purchases these products,” said Arguello, “is due to the belief that because it is sold in a store it should be safe.”
But, she said, the lack of long-term research proves otherwise.
There are additional health concerns for women with high exposure to chemicals and toxins including infertility, birth defects, and even infant mortality. In men, such issues as low sperm count and reproduction and genetic problems can arise.
Plastics and fragrances have also been linked with genital abnormality. Arguello described this problem as the cumulative impact of all toxic chemicals to which people are exposed.
“Regulators look at it as separate chemicals, but they need to understand that it’s the cumulative impact that leads to all the health problems and abnormalities,” she added.
Although there are existing regulations that reduced the allotted amount of certain chemicals, many workplaces, and therefore workers, are still exposed to harmful toxins. Places such as nail salons, dry-cleaners, farms, and even IBM plants, have shown a correlation between the various chemicals used in their everyday work and patterns of disease.
Some of the advised solutions for diminishing and decreasing everyday exposure to toxins and chemicals, according to Arguello, should include being aware of hazards in the home as well as raising awareness as a community.
Joining groups and speaking to others about the problems regarding chemicals in everyday life is also a strong way to make a statement. It is of high importance that the issues are well known and exposed in order to create a change.
Citizens can make their voices heard by voting in and holding elected officials accountable once they are in office.
For more information, visit www.psr-la.org or visit 10 Ways to Detox Your Home.