You’ve probably heard by now that several common ingredients used in antiperspirants and conventional deodorants can be toxic to your health, but what about the not so obvious impacts they might have on our environment? Here is a brief overview of three common ingredients found in conventional deodorant and how they can negatively impact our ecosystem.
Aluminum occurs naturally in the environment in the form of aluminum silicate and requires heavy processing to transform it into the form used in deodorants and other products. Whether during the process of refining or through discarding deodorant tubes in a landfill or washing them down the shower drain, aluminum salts and compounds continue to show up in our groundwater, rivers, and lakes . The presence of aluminum in acidic waters can be toxic to the plants and fish that live in those environments .
In order to have the raw material for the aluminum used in antiperspirants, a mining and refining process is required that gives off large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and consumes significant amounts of energy. Some of the emissions include sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide as well as many other chemicals that can result in acid rain. Not only does the smelting process lead to toxic emissions, but the energy required is large and usually comes from power plants which can be coal fired or hydro-electric. The coal plants alone emit greenhouse gases and the hydro-electric power is created by damming rivers. These dams disrupt wildlife habitats and often flood and destroy parts of the surrounding forest’s and ecosystems. We know that the majority of aluminum obtained from these processes does not end up in deodorant, but we think it is worth being on the lookout for ways to avoid unnecessary aluminum toxicity in our bodies and to our planet.
A study at Stanford University revealed alarming results when researchers exposed California mussels to a variety of synthetic fragrances commonly used in personal care products . They found that even short-term exposure to several synthetic musk compounds compromised the mussels defense system, reducing its ability to get rid of other harmful toxins. The damage remained for 48 hours after washing the fragrance off, which indicated potentially dangerous long-term effects. All of the test were conducted at very low levels of concentration.
Triclosan was first registered as a pesticide in 1969, we almost need not say any more. Given its effectiveness as a pesticide this chemical tells you up front that it is not going to be kind to the environment. Other than it receiving a “highly toxic” rating from the EPA, researchers found that when shining ultraviolet light on triclosan added to river water, that up to 12% was converted to dioxin. This led to concerns that exposure to sunlight alone could cause the conversion to dioxin. Dioxins are one of the worst environmental pollutants .
We know that the list of toxins, hazards and things to worry about seems endless sometimes, but knowledge is empowering. The choice for what you put on your body and wash down your drain is still yours, so make it an informed one.