After doing some further research and feeling fairly informed about various questionable chemical ingredients found in cleaning, cosmetic and body products I ventured to my local supermarket, ready to buy products which are less likely to harm my family's health. I spent a long time studying all the labels in many aisles, and much to my dismay, I was unable to locate any shampoos, conditioners or hand washes which were free of harmful ingredients to our health and wellness. I was horrified that products claiming to be 'natural', 'herbal', 'plant based', were actually full of chemicals that have been identified as potentially harmful. There were actually only a handful of products in the whole store that I was happily able to purchase.
There was a time when most of us thought we could avoid harmful chemicals if we just kept away from factories and paint stores and wore gloves when handling bottles
with colourful caps. Today we know that potentially hazardous chemicals can be found in everything from the clothes we wear to the cosmetics we use and the food we eat. This is often a subject of public concern as the health problems and diseases associated with these chemicals range from reduced fertility, neurodevelopmental disorders, neurological diseases, psychiatric disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, diabetes and metabolic disorders, osteoporosis, immunological diseases to many types of cancer (www.euro.who.int/envhealth).
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate is one of the most common products seen in the cleaning, hair, body and facial care section of a supermarket. It is just one of hundreds of chemicals found in everyday products we use that have been highlighted as a potential health risk. SLS is a detergent which basically makes the bubbles we have come to expect in many products used at home and in industry. Another place where it is commonly used is on humans and animals in laboratories. It is used to cause skin irritations, which then allows researchers to test products that best heal skin conditions (www.healthy-communications.com). Not only is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate known to cause skin irritation, but it is also absorbed into the skin and has been linked to a range of other health issues. I find this alarming
My own experience
For much of the past 12 years I have constantly suffered from a variety of skin conditions which have ranged from an eczema type rash covering my whole entire body, to dermatitis on my hands. I now realise by simply having a shower, washing my hair, or doing the dishes has been keeping my skin irritations active. I have always bought what I thought were 'natural' or 'sensitive skin' products, but most are simply not at all natural or safe.
Ingredient labelling laws in Australia are still fairly vague and we are far behind other places including parts of Europe and Canada, which have already banned many chemical ingredients still readily seen on our shelves. There are various approved certified organic symbols which at this stage is the easiest way to locate a safe product or simply begin to read labels more thoroughly.
Our current scientific knowledge cannot ensure the safety of most of the thousands of chemicals in use, since the risk assessment process is slow. Scientists and policy-makers are working together to understand the effects of different substances and ban those that are found to harm humans. While scientific research can take years or decades before reaching a conclusion, I would encourage people to look for ways to protect themselves and their families from the jungle of poisonous chemicals and dangerous substances and on our supermarket shelves.
We can do this for the health of our family and to respect and look after our bodies. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body," (1 Cor. 6:19-20). If our health is at its optimum then we can be ready to serve God wholeheartedly, wherever He sends us.
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html