Snake Oil?

What kind of mad world have we allowed to be created where now when you step out your door to go shopping for groceries and other products, you can’t simply worry whether there is too much salt, sugar or fat in it, or whether it will make you more attractive.  But rather, you have to worry about whether the container the food comes in will contain dangerous chemicals; ones that will affect your daughter’s hormones causing her to start puberty early or your son’s hormones thereby reducing his sperm count.  Or, whether the new sofa, designed to burn a little slower (though they can actually be worse in a fire), will cause deficits in motor skills, memory or changes in behaviour in developing children?  Or whether that new perfume, air freshener or laundry soap will cause respiratory problems in yourself and/or someone you love.  What kind of world is this?

I recall a term I learned in my youth.  I don’t know why I heard it but the term was “snake oil salesman”.  It seemed to me to come out of the 1800s when travelling salesmen would show up in a town and try to sell you bottles of cure-it-all, aka snake oil.  From what I understood, it usually didn’t work and you were lucky if you didn’t get sick from it.  When the ruse was discovered, they ran those salesmen out of town.  When I heard this term I thought it was gone in the past.  But I’d say the concept really isn’t gone.  It looks like we are again or still caught in the ruse.  Today, we happily peruse the shelves of our local stores and load our carts with chemical laden products.

Given nearly everything on our store shelves today contains chemicals, they’re hard to avoid.  Whether it’s the couch you and your family sit on that is sprayed with flame retardants, the hand soap with triclosan, the new computer mouse with antibacterial agents (aka triclosan), the ‘green’ bathroom cleaner that is actually a different kind of “green washing” (pulling the wool over our eyes) or the food-like products on grocery shelves, we are swimming in toxic chemicals.

And we’re still wondering why we’re getting sick?!

Our bodies were designed to process natural products that the earth produced.  They weren’t designed to repel the ghastly number of compounds and chemicals that can and do enter our bodies through our skin, nose, and mouth.  There are over 80000 chemicals used in products we buy.  Most have never been tested for safety.  The lipstick you put on your lips, the powder you put on your skin, the drink that has ingredients you can’t pronounce all come together in your body.  These chemicals also haven’t been tested for how they interact as a concoction inside us.

Be careful and read the ingredients.  If you cannot pronounce them, that’s a probable sign to be cautious.  If you want to know what the chemicals are and whether or not they are linked to health impacts, many can be found in the databases on the Environmental Working Group website.  Maybe that shampoo is okay or maybe it’s got carcinogens in it that enter your body when the product is used as it is intended, and the remainder go down the drain and into your nearest lake to cause more havoc for the fish and wildlife.

It’s a crazy world and it’s the one we live in.  You can protect yourself from ‘snake oil’ products.  Read labels and do some research.   We’re all vulnerable but children are the most vulnerable.  Chemicals will mess with their development.  Let’s keep ourselves and our families safe.  And, add your voice to the many already calling for safer products.

Follow this link for many resources to learn more about what I’ve said above:  chemicals and health.

Please also share any resources you have in the comments section.  And, please share this with others.  Let’s get the word out!

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5 Responses to Snake Oil?

  1. Deanna says:

    And even just the next day from when I sent this out, I saw this article about how this is a topic for discussion in the United States as Congress considers laws protecting health: For Americans, there is a link on this page to join others calling for good laws that protect health.

  2. Deanna says:

    I suspect that GM soy probably does make it into “green” inks because much of the soy grown is GM. Here’s one link I found about it:

    Thanks for mentioning Benzethonium chloride. I didn’t know about that one.

  3. Pingback: Chemical Scents: They’re Everywhere! | e~musing things

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