Invasion of chemicals in our daily life: Opt for healthy lifestyle by avoiding hazardous chemicals

CAP views with dismay the presence of a wide range of hazardous chemicals in consumer products including food items.

Malaysians are of the mindset that any new consumer products that are advertised are safe for consumption. The truth is some of these products carry with them toxic chemicals harmful to health.

Children’s favourite junk food and processed food are saddled with artificial coloring, preservatives and host of other chemicals. Women are enticed to new cosmetics, household products, nature care products oblivious to the dangerous chemical present in them. Gone are the days when one type of soap will do all types of cleaning in the house. Now each house ensures it has toilet cleaner, glass cleaner, tiles cleaner, stain remover, carpet cleaner and myriad other cleaners.

Men are not spared either. Their smoking habit ensures daily indulgence with hazardous substances. Cosmetics once the domain of women, now has invaded the life of man as they too started using a wide range of cosmetic products to beautify themselves.

Metal food-wares are increasingly replaced with plastic wares in most households. Plastic with certain numbers are deemed safe to use. But consumers are advised to avoid plastic wherever possible in their cooking and storage of food as most plastics leach dangerous chemicals when in contact with hot or acidic food or due to wear and tear after prolonged use.

Of all these, processed food are of great concern due their direct and speedy impact on our health. Processed food comes in attractive packaging. We are not aware that chemical from the packaging leach into the food. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) Germany the cardboard use for packing pizzas comes with host of chemicals as it is manufactured from the recycled newspapers. The see-through clingfilm used to cover meats, vegetables and sandwiches release components from plastics to food.

Similarly the Styrofoam containers and cups that routinely used for packaging food, contain neurotoxic styrene and benzene which are known to be carcinogens.

The inner layer of canned drinks and food is coated with Bisphenol A (BPA) to prevent the metal from rusting. Plastic drinking water bottles, the type we use and throw away too leaches BPA. Hence with every sip of soft drinks we inadvertently ingest BPA. This BPA can imitate our body’s own hormone in a way that could be hazardous to our health.

A wide range of preservatives used to increase the shelf life of the food products and myriad of flavourings and additives to lure consumers, deplete the food of its vital nutrients. Chemical additives used in food had increased from 800 in 1950s to 10,000 in 2014. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it has never reviewed the safety of over 3,000 chemical additives used in food industry.

Rampant use of pesticides and weed killers in Malaysian farms leaves behind dangerous residues in the vegetable we consume. Aerosol sprayed at home to kill mosquitoes and other household pests spell even more dangers as they are being used in closed doors and hence the toxic chemicals remain in the environment for longer period.

The invasion of myriad of chemicals in our daily life is one of the main contributory factors for increasing number of health problems such as obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Thus Malaysian should move towards healthy life styles by reducing the use of products that is laden with hazardous chemicals. Avoiding processed food and fast food, opting for products with less chemicals, practising chemical-free farming, promise healthier life for us and for our children.

Press release, 11 Oct 2014