Don’t listen to me, make your own decisions

May 1, 2008 Katja Presnal

I like to make you think and throw out there some un-conventional ideas, or protest for ideas most people think are common sense (like how easy it is to use paper plates, no need to wash dishes – me: no way in hell I’d use paper plates, that’s the poster boy for ruining our environment).

I just wanted to remind you that my main purpose is not tell you or anyone else “this is the right way, and it’s my way or highway” – I would never do that. I write things that hopefully make you think – and then that way will help you make your own decision.

Don’t listen to me, don’t listen to your parents, don’t listen to the teacher, don’t listen to the priest, don’t listen to the president (ok, that is going too far, who would do that) blindly. Listen to everyone, read, educate yourself, and have your own educated opinions.

I recently posted about unsafe sunscreens and added a list of chemicals used regularly in many products – chemicals, which can be very toxic for you. I am not a chemist, and the list was made by a company called TruKid, offering natural skin care products.

I got this e-mail today, and thought I’d share it with you:

I have wanted ask you about your sunscreen post the other week. In it you wrote:

“THIS LIST IS “TOXIC BAD GUYS” made by TruKid Natural Skin Care Company. The following ingredients have been linked to one or more of the following: cancer, neuro-damage, and developmental/reproductive toxicity. It’s a great idea to even print it out – who can remember these chemical names anyway!
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Can be found in 90% of products that lather.”

The thing is, SLS is literally soap. Soap is a good thing. It’s not unhealthy. Not all chemicals are evil. Some save even lives. Soap keeps us clean and bacteria free. Without soap, there would be more disease and illness. Of course the fine people at TruKid are going to say chemicals are bad – or “toxic bad guys.”

And I am not necessarily familiar with all the chemicals listed and who knows, they might be right on some of them. I really don’t know. But TruKid has it’s own agenda. And it’s to sell more “natural” stuff.

I took enough chemisty at university to know that SLS is a good thing. While
it’s important of course to spread the word about truly toxic chemicals, the belief that all chemicals are “toxic bad guys” is in my honest opinion, dangerous.

This is totally just an opinion and not anything more. Don’t take it like I
don’t think you are brilliant… PLEASE. I just think that if we are going to be distrustful of the ‘chemical’ industry, that we should also be at least somewhat distrustful of the ‘natural’ industry that has it’s own agenda. Like all these “natural” house cleaners? Many of them don’t clean well. So we are still left with all the bacteria. I am not saying all chemicals are good. I am not an authority. But I don’t think they are all that bad either.”

I wanted also share my asnwer to this e-mail.

I understand your point, and I use soap too, I even use really harsh chemicals to color my strawberry blond hair to red – knowing that the good I do (whether it’s important like killing bacteria or just for fun; coloring my hair) overweighs the bad I’m doing by using the product. Not that it might over-weight it in reality, but personally for me (like taking the risk just for the sake of my hair).

And there are chemicals we can not avoid, and then there are the ones we can. It’s same with medicine – you can heal one problem, but might get side-effects by doing so.

I am not a chemist, even though of course studied it at school, and that’s why I didn’t or wouldn’t have posted “toxic bad guys” in my own name without doing the research myself – which I didn’t of any other products but on sunscreens on that post.

When it comes to SLS, there are studies that suggest that it causes hair loss, skin irritation and some instances cancer and in toothpaste it may cause aphthous ulcers. Some say this is an urban legend, some say it’s not. While the SLS works as a bacteria killer, the people who have been experiencing more these “side-effects” (or what ever you want to call it) of SLS are the people who really need good cleaning products, like people who work with animals, dead people, sick people etc. – the people who use cleaning products more in every day life than people normally do. Did SLS cause the symptoms? I believe so. Did it overweight the problems they might have been exposed if they hadn’t use cleaning products and exposed themselves to bacteria? You bet so.

There are two sides of every story, of course!

SLS is also used in car cleaners and many other harsh industrial cleaning products, so it just tells me, it has to be pretty “good stuff” for cleaning. I agree with you, these products and chemicals are needed in today’s society, and thank God we have them.

But people shouldn’t just learn to think that way that there is always some chemical, or some medicine or some “trick” to make things go away and cure them. There are many preventive measures people can do so they don’t need as many chemicals in our every day life. After all, all the chemicals we use, will go back to nature and will end up spoiling our natural water resources – oh yeah, we already did that – and yes, luckily there are chemicals we can get the water clean.

Killing bacteria isn’t always good either. Studies have shown that if children live in a very clean environment, and are not exposed to many bacteria, their immune systems won’t develop as strong. I don’t use any cleaning detergants at home that “kills 99.99% bacteria” and we’ve never gotten sick from bacteria, that I know of. We rarely get sick at all. But children who have lived their childhood in very sterile environments and then enter school world, are the ones who the easiest get exposed to bacteria around and get sick, because their immune systems are not as developed. I read this study somewhere years ago, no idea where or in which language. (I couldn’t find it for now)

I agree with you with the chemical industry, they are desparately needed, but in this country everything is about profit and politics. FDA doesn’t regulate chemicals which are bad for us if chemical industry needs it – because it’s profitable. Our example SLS is very inexpensive chemical, that’s why it is used in 90% of soaps, not just because it’s effective. You don’t think that might be one reason FDA and chemical industry don’t even want to do more research on it? Just saying.

What I want to voice out: we should all do our research, we should all question everything – and then make educated choices and decisions.

The baby products from “The Big American Company”* aren’t my first choice for my kids after reading the chemical ingredients, but for some people it is, just because of them. But the fact is – companies like “The Big American Company”* ARE using chemicals, which are bad for you in some of their products, and why should I trust ANY of their products?

And what comes to “natural companies” – you’re right … some of them are not that “natural” at all. Like there are these “environmentally friendly” companies who sell their sunlotion in “one application packs” – everyone knows how much trash that develops! Or clothing companies who have organically grown cotton, but they use chemicals to whiten or color the cotton. There are ton of examples.

That’s why – do your own research and make educated decisions.

* Insert a household name company

What I also wrote:
Protect Your Child from Harmful Chemicals
Be Smart about the Toy Recalls

Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work.Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners.She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

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