The Toxic Ingredients In Our Trusted Products | Teen Ink

The Toxic Ingredients In Our Trusted Products

February 20, 2023
By UR-what-u-eat BRONZE, Los Angeles, California
UR-what-u-eat BRONZE, Los Angeles, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

According to the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund), “The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) found lead in 98% of certain canned fruit.” But lead can kill. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that “More than 75% of Americans have phthalates in their bodies.” Phthalates, a plasticizer, causes all sorts of irreversible harm to human health. These are just a few detrimental facts about the toxic chemicals in food and products we consume every day. We simply cannot trust anything in our grocery stores anymore. Personally, as much as I try to avoid buying anything harmful, every day I learn about something else dangerous lurking on my shelves. 

Not all harmful ingredients can be seen by the naked eye. Phthalates, a chemical used in food packaging and production material, can leach into food and drinks causing serious harm to human health. In 2017, lab testing found cancerous phthalates in 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese powders. They are also found in fragrances and eyelash adhesives. Even at low levels, phthalates can interfere with human hormones causing birth defects, miscarriages, and infertility. They also harm the developing brain - leading to reduced IQ, plus attention and behavior disorders in children. Babies, young people, and economically insecure people all face heightened risks of serious health problems from phthalates. Yet more than 75% of Americans have phthalates in their bodies. In my opinion, eating safe food is a basic human right. So why is this continuing?

We are also aware that many die from lead poisoning each year. It is also known that lead damages our vital organs: the brain, nervous system, and heart. The CDC says there is no safe level of lead in our blood. This is because even the smallest amount contributes to the detrimental effects. To reiterate, the FDA found lead in 98% of certain canned fruit. But surprisingly, lead is most commonly found in baby food. Lead was detected in 20% of baby food samples compared to 14% for adult food. To give an example, 89% of babies' grape juice and 86% pureed sweet potato samples contained detectable levels of lead. To me, this is disgusting. 

There are also poisons lurking in our cosmetics. Every day we lather a number of beauty and health aids to our body. But do we really know what’s inside of these? I believe no one should be blindsided by their trusted products. Parabens are preservatives found in shampoos, lotions, and more. Parabens disrupt your growth, metabolism, hormones, and reproductive system to name a few.  Toluene is a solvent found in nail polish and hair dye. It is toxic to the brain and nervous system as well as the development of a fetus. 

PFAS, a class of more than 4000 chemicals, are present in things we put in our mouth such as non-stick pans like Teflon, pizza boxes, fast food wrappers, and even Oral B Glide dental floss! They are also found in beauty products such as foundation, concealer, eyeliner, shaving cream, sunscreen, and hair spray. They can cause cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, increased risk of asthma, and thyroid disease. I think this is unacceptable. It must stop now.

However, there is hope. Inspired by the wisdom of ancient Chinese philosopher Han Fei Zi, the founder of Legalist ideology, we can rethink our decisions. He believed that political institutions should adapt to changing historical circumstances and social patterns. This reflects upon the problem of toxic ingredients in our products. As we discover these deadly ingredients in our products, we must keep up with these advancements by restricting their use. Han Fei Zi deemed it most important that the ruler establish order and peace in society, while recognizing the greed and selfishness of people. This applies to the big food and cosmetics corporations poisoning us because they only value their profits, not our safety. Legalists believe the law must be firm and just; this is exactly what we need today. “Laws are the means of prohibiting error and ruling out selfish motives” (Han Fei Zi).

These Legalist teachings managed to save China from a time of unrest during the Warring States Period. It can also save us from the unrest of the toxic effects on our bodies from thousands of products. The EDF found that over 1 million children consume more lead than the FDA's limit. They also found that by eliminating lead in food, we would save society more than $27 billion annually in total lifetime earnings from well maintained brain health. Additionally, many of these chemicals are banned or restricted in the EU, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia, Japan, and Canada. Why should a huge and influential country like the US lag behind? Do you want to see your family suffer from miserable diseases, when we can easily prevent this? It’s time we changed this sad reality by pushing the FDA to tighten regulations on these chemicals, just as Han Fei Zi would have done. “If law does not command respect, then all the ruler’s actions will be endangered. If penalties are not enforced, then evil will never be surmounted” (Han Fei Zi 280 -  233 BCE).

The author's comments:

eat well... be happy ;)

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