Environmental pollutants are often unavoidable when they enter our air supply and food chain. But when it comes to skincare products, you have a choice. Dioxins are one of the most detrimental chemical pollutants, a known human carcinogen.
What is Dioxin?
Dioxins are a highly toxic group of hundreds of similarly structured chemical compounds. Dioxins usually occur as an unintentional by-product of industrial processes that use chlorine. Such practices include chemical production, pesticide manufacturing, waste incineration and bleaching pulp and paper. When chlorine-based chemicals are burned with hydrocarbons, dioxins are released into the environment. It can sometimes occur naturally from incendiary incidents like forest fires and volcanic eruptions. Dioxins were a key toxic component of Agent Orange used as herbicidal warfare.
Human dioxins exposure is primarily found in the food chain with over 90% of contamination coming from food. However it creeps into skincare and personal care products during manufacturing. It is never listed as dioxins, but rather is a side effect of antibacterial ingredients such as triclosan, emulsifiers, PEGs and ethoxylated cleansers including SLES. That means it can be in a range of products including facial and body cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, hair care products and more. Many plastic bottles that contain skin care and personal care items also carry dioxins.
Dioxins are considered environmental pollutants found in soil, sediments, water, air and animal-based food sources like meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. They accumulate in our food chain as animals eat plants grown in dioxin-contaminated soil or fish swim in dioxin-infected water. The dioxins are absorbed by these animals and passed along through our food chain. For this reason, everyone has background exposure to dioxins.
There are strict regulations on dioxins in the food chain. Fortunately, the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) reports a 90% reduction in industrial dioxin emissions within the U.S.
Why is Dioxin Dangerous?
Dioxins are highly toxic with a number of severe life-altering and fatal side-effects. Dioxins remain in our bodies for a long time because they are very stable chemicals that absorb into fat tissue, our bodies internal storage unit. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the half life of dioxins in the body is 7 to 11 years. It contributes to “body burden,” the amount of toxicity we accumulate that can trigger damaging effects.
For over 15 years, government and environmental agencies including the EPA, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program have acknowledged dioxins as a human carcinogen. These agencies indicate that there is no “safe dose” of dioxins, meaning any level of exposure can be cancerous. Therefore, dioxins are considered a Group 1 carcinogen – they are a proven source of cancer.
Additionally, dioxins are known to disrupt the immune system, endocrine system, nervous system, respiratory system; cause hormonal imbalances; lower cognitive ability; slow neurodevelopment; induce depression; incite behavioral issues; cause low birth weight; and have damaging effects on reproduction. Dioxins are especially detrimental to hormones because they can mimic and distort various bodily hormones. In men, dioxin exposure can cause low testosterone and low sperm count. Dioxin can cause diabetes by lowering glucose tolerance due to interference with the hormone insulin. It can also lower the thyroid hormone.
Fetuses and babies are the highest risk for potential harmful effects of dioxin exposure because their organs are rapidly developing. This puts a great burden on pregnant women and new moms to protect their children. Also, people who work near waste incinerators, manufacturing plants and paper mills are at greater risk of the negative effects of dioxin poisoning.
Dioxins hide in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the products we put on our skin. Be vigilant and guard yourself against these vicious chemicals by avoiding the ingredients that create them. Natura Veda is dedicated to shielding our products against dioxin contamination.