Friday, August 30, 2013

Toxins in Shampoos

I am forever suggesting to people that they read labels. No one, not the federal or provincial government, not Health keeping you safe from toxins in your personal care products. 

In this latest case, The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) revealed independent testing on Tuesday finding a cancer-causing chemical in 98 shampoos, soaps and other personal care products sold by major national retailers. The chemical in question is cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), a chemically-modified form of coconut oil used as a thickener or foaming agent in many products. California listed this as a known carcinogen last year. These are well known brands...everything from Prell, Organix, Paul Mitchell, and more. 

As you know, eScential Wellness is a supporter of environmental defence ( and lists their "Toxic Ten" ingredients on the eScential Wellness website ( As it happens, cocamide DEA is not on their toxic ten list....but it does make David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen.  (link here: Of course, eScential Wellness is free of the Dirty Dozen, too. But what do you do when the chemical is not required to be on the label? Not much you can do about that...except, be labels whenever you can.

Read the full article. It's very informative!  This link will take you to a list of the exact shampoo offenders. You can see if the shampoo you use is among the entire article.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What is worse - Bug Bites, or Insect Repellent?

USA Today has published an article asking this question. They point out that there is no 100% failsafe protection against bug bites. They cite 4 compounds that are effective: 3 chemicals, including DEET, and oil of lemon eucalyptus, an essential oil. PubMed has studies showing catnip essential oil is as effective as DEET. (If you want links to the full articles, just email me!) Oil of lemon eucalyptus was recognized by the  Centre for Disease Control as being both effective, and safe to use. That is not true here in Canada, though. In Canada, Health Canada does not allow the use of citronella, or, anything containing citronellol to be used as an insect repellent. Oil of lemon eucalyptus does have citronnellol as a component.

However, you have to weigh the risks of insect repellents against the risks of being bitten by a mosquito or tick. The Centre for Disease Control says Lyme disease infections have doubled over the past 15 years, and West Nile Virus infected 5600 people last year (in the United States.) Mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting such diseases as dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, and malaria. These are very serious diseases and I think deciding to use any repellent in this case would be well worth the risk. In Canada, some of these diseases are not common and we do not typically worry about catching them.

Bug repellent - natural or otherwise - should never be used on children under 6 months of age, and, you should also avoid repellents that contain active ingredients of greater than 30%.

New repellents are appearing on the market all the time. There are now "clip on " repellents...which you do not have to slather on the skin. There is controversy as to how well they work, and if they are, in fact, any safer than applying to your skin.

Natural deterrents include:  (1) Wearing long sleeves and pants, which provide a physical barrier to biting insects. (2) sitting in front of a fan. Insects have trouble navigating in wind (3) Making sure you discourage the breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which means eliminating any standing or stagnant water from your property.