Some people are more likely to have health problems as a result of exposure to cosmetics and personal care products than others, even when the amounts of contaminants present are seemingly quite low. However, when the studies are done, the focus is on one ingredient and its exposure to a healthy animal fed a well-balanced nutritional diet. As individuals, we each have different levels of resilience and tolerance to toxic chemicals based on our genetics and our current level of health, nutrition and even lifestyle factors.
Susceptible groups include:
- The developing foetus
- Infants and newborns
- Pregnant mothers
- People who are already sick or immune-compromised
- Chemically sensitive individuals
- The aged
- Genetically susceptible individuals
- Lower socioeconomic groups
- Stressed individuals
… to list the obvious.
Asthmatics have particular sensitivities. Any chemicals, gases or particulates that cause irritation of the respiratory system’s mucous membranes will aggravate an asthmatic’s condition. Allergy-prone people who already show sensitivity to a substance with reactions such as sinusitis, hay fever, atopic eczema and other forms of atopic dermatitis are likely to react with heightened sensitivity to indoor air pollution. They may experience an aggravation of their allergies or develop additional sensitivities. The increasing number of people who suffer from 21st-century diseases such as chronic fatigue and multiple chemical sensitivities will also react to even very low levels of these chemicals.
Pregnant women, who may themselves enjoy robust health, are at risk because some of these contaminants pass over the placenta to the foetus. People under stress are more at risk because their immune systems are often not functioning at optimum levels. Other factors determining susceptibility include gender, genetic makeup, pre-existing health conditions and predisposition to disease, as well as lifestyle considerations such as work, diet and exercise.
There is little doubt that our kids have a greater susceptibility to toxic chemicals than we do. The younger they are, the more vulnerable they are. Every day we expose our children to hundreds of different chemicals in personal care and cosmetic products and yet remain puzzled as to why they get sick and why the rates of childhood asthma, allergies and cancer are higher than ever. Childhood leukaemia and brain tumours are leading causes of death of children in most developed countries and many studies are now showing a link between these conditions and increased toxic chemical exposure.