Saturday, November 22, 2003

Vanquish Vanity: The Truth About Animal Cruelty

Endocrine disruptors. Most people have heard the term and some even have a general idea of what they are: environmental chemicals that affect the hormones in our body. Endocrine disruptors are primarily man-made synthetic chemicals that are inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested in food or water. These chemicals are taken up by the blood and deposited in the brain, where they mimic the body's own chemicals and, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have the potential to cause profound physiological changes in the reproductive and neurological systems of humans and wildlife.

Contrary to what you might think, these environmental chemical pollutants are not solely the result of chemical industry waste discharges. According to recent research conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS), Brunel University in the UK, Department of Environmental and Toxicological Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, Institute of Pharmacology at the University of Zürich and many other environmental authorities around the world, many endocrine disrupting personal-care products were found downstream of water-treatment plants in rivers and in saltwater.

Here are a few environmental disrupting chemicals that have been found in products that are labeled “cruelty-free,” “organic” and “natural,” in our water and in the bodies of marine animals (and humans) around the world: tergitol (hair dyes), sunscreens (Octyl-methoxy cinnamate, PABA), detergents/nonionic surfactants (alkylphenol-ethoxylates/carboxylates), fragrances (phthalates) and preservatives (parabens & triclosan).

The EPA report “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: Agents of Subtle Change?” states that parabens produced estrogenic activity in several assays. The report also says that “(personal care products) aquatic pollution is particularly troublesome because aquatic organisms (fish, frogs, turtles, manatees, etc.) are captive to continual life-cycle exposure...effects could accumulate so slowly that major change goes undetected until the cumulative level of these effects finally cascades to irreversible change.”

Additionally, the report declares “The literature shows, however, that many of these compounds survive biodegradation… Many of these personal care products and their metabolites are ubiquitous and display persistence in, and bioconcentration from, surface waters on par with those of the widely recognized organochlorine pollutants.”

This chemical contamination of our waterways has escalated to such a serious level that the EPA has established an Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program to begin “evaluating” the 87,000 chemicals that are now in use in the USA. Good, you might be thinking. Not so good, when you learn that “evaluation” actually means animal testing and that, according to the Humane Society “Published scientific estimates on the number of animals to be used suggest from 600,000 to 1.2 million animals will be used for every 1,000 chemicals tested. The animals that will be used for testing include rodents, birds, frogs, flies, mysid shrimp, and fish.”

According to information compiled from the EPA and the US Census Bureau, Americans dump more than six billion pounds of body care chemicals into our waterways each year! That’s enough chemicals to fill approximately one thousand and fifty Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Humans thrived for millions of years without synthetic chemical products. Do you really need to dye your hair? Did you know that sunscreens have never been proven to prevent aging or skin cancer and that many authorities believe that they may actually be responsible for the dramatic rise in skin cancer? Do you really need the huge lather, thick bubbles and berry “fragrance” of chemical detergents to clean your hair and your body? About those paraben preservatives–they’re unnecessary, cheap chemicals that benefit the manufacturer’s bottom line, not you.

How can you help to stop the slaughter of animals and the poisoning of wildlife? Stop using synthetic chemical body care products! Question and research chemical ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Boycott phony “organic” and “natural” body care products that are filled with “derived from” synthetic chemicals. Unlike chemical ingredients, truly natural and organic materials like olive and coconut oils, beeswax, most essential oils and castile soap are considered to be safe and aren’t required to be tested on animals. Support honest companies who make non-chemical, true organic products to take care of your daily hygiene routines–safely. You can make a difference!