There are around 70,000 to 85,000 chemicals in use today, with around 2,000 new chemicals coming onto the market each year. It is estimated that around 1% of these chemicals have been tested as Environment Protection Agencies struggle to keep up with the growing volume of new chemical compositions. These new chemicals are basically deemed safe until proven otherwise and so, it may take centuries for the environmental agencies to catch up. By the time we find out if certain chemicals could be harmful, the damage is likely to have already been done.
Indeed, a 2005 US study showed that there were 200 chemicals found in newborn baby cord blood. (EWG.org) Women are also at more risk to chemical exposure than men as they tend to use more beauty, toiletry and household products. “25 percent of women apply 15 or more products daily, including makeup and anti-aging creams, amounting to an average of 168 chemicals.” (ecowatch.com)
Chemical exposure is certainly something I talk to my patients about as studies are showing that over-exposure can have an effect on fertility. We also know that sperm count and overall sperm health has fallen dramatically compared with that of lesser developed countries. Whilst we don’t know exactly what is to blame, we can assume that chemical exposure and environmental factors have a big part to play.
So what can be done? This is a tough one to answer and I suppose the obvious one is ‘very little’! Whilst that is true, as the chemicals are in the air we breathe and the water we drink, we can take measures to limit our contact.
Switching to organic, natural makeup and beauty products, using natural household cleaners, getting an air purifier, eating organic food and drinking filtered water can all be useful.
I’ve managed to make all of these changes with little trouble but the one that I’ve continually struggled with is beauty products. If you’re anything like me, you spent years of trial and error trying to find the right moisturiser, foundation and mascara that was just right for you. And with natural products often costing more than their chemical counterparts it can be difficult to make the switch. Therefore I will make a promise to use this forum to showcase any products that I think are worth buying. I encourage you all to comment and share any other product tips you might have so we can make the looming task of reinventing our makeup bags a little easier.
Verity Allen - BSc, BA, MBAcC, Lic Ac