Better living through science (but not too much science)
August 1, 2018 10:44 PM   Subscribe

What chemicals / additives to legitimately avoid? Online searching veers quickly into mama woo precious bodily fluids territory. Help me separate fiction from fact!

If you know me I'm fairly woo-friendly but not too woo. Chakras, yes, crystals no. But even this is past my breaking point. What chemicals / additives should I avoid as they are legitimate health concerns? Online searches get into "omg our world is so toxic, dihydrogen monoxide is everywhere!!" without common sense. If I wanted to meaningfully reduce my exposure and that of my little one to health impacting chemicals where should I start? No nitrites, biphesnol a, don't microwave in plastic, no aluminum deodorant, only organic strawberries, no VOCs (but which specific ones?? Where do they commonly come from?) and....? Can I ever use perfume again?

Basically I need a primer of what to avoid and where it commonly comes from. Presume I know nothing to start.

Douse me in reason and listicles metafilter!
posted by St. Peepsburg to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Oh and specific chemical names especially in makeup and hair and skin products is most welcome.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:45 PM on August 1, 2018

This chart is more about evaluating supposedly-good substances but from what I remember it was well regarded as legit.
posted by traveler_ at 11:47 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Flame retardants. They are no bueno for humans or pets - do a google scholar search and see. Most major furniture manufacturers stopped using them after CA changed their regs in 2015 but they are still in a lot of stuff like cheap area rugs. Loot for "tri" chemicals, PDBEs etc.

Also most lawn chemicals because the side effects on humans are not terribly well understood and, more importantly, they kill lightning bugs and similar lawn welling insects.
posted by fshgrl at 12:31 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Check out the Environmental Working Group. They have a number of consumer guides, and also keep databases with ratings on many consumer products. For example, here are their top tips on safe cosmetics.
posted by veery at 6:33 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I check food labels for partially-hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup.
posted by aniola at 6:37 AM on August 2, 2018

The reason to eat organic strawberries is because they're a part of the dirty dozen.
posted by aniola at 6:40 AM on August 2, 2018

(Also I thought the aluminum in anti-persperants thing had been debunked, but they use so much plastic and stinky frangrances to make those things I feel like I should help perpetuate that myth.)
posted by aniola at 6:45 AM on August 2, 2018

Quick note, the EWG's dirty dozen list has a lot of criticism from scientists/industry due to somewhat shoddy research. In a nutshell, the EWG goes by sheer concentration of pesticides and doesn't differentiate between pesticides that are more toxic than others (which is probably the more concerning aspect of eating pesticides!). The Alliance for Food and Farming recommends as a science-based source of information about organic and conventional produce.
posted by devrim at 7:28 AM on August 2, 2018 [13 favorites]

A second caution on the EWG. They're well meaning, but their evaluations seem to be on qualitative mentions rather than evaluation of numbers. I get that they're trying to provide simple answers to complex questions, but ime, their analyses are not very sophisticated from a risk analysis point of view.
posted by bonehead at 9:11 AM on August 2, 2018

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