Can you say “phthalates?” Part 1

How many personal-care products do you use every day?

  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Body wash
  • Hair spray
  • Nail polish
  • Aftershave lotions
  • Hair gel
  • Hand lotions
  • Lipstick
  • Perfume or cologne

Did you know that many personal care products contain plastic? New warnings are out about the health risks of a somewhat mysterious substance called “phthalates” found in plastics.

Our own Paul Penders’ chief chemist, Dr. Gatot, explains that these are often added to cosmetics to make them long lasting or to enhance their smell. He promises, “We have never used them in PP products and never will.”

Do the personal care products you use contain phthalates? Probably. You might never know because often phthalates are swept under the label ‘fragrants’ (or ‘fragrance’) and therefore do not have to be listed on the containers. Look on the ingredients lists of your favorite products for these phthalates, which, if listed at all, may be indicated with an abbreviation. The three most commonly used in personal care products are: DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), and BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate).

Can you say “phthalates?” It’s a tricky word (pronounced tha-layts) that has become the subject of intensive lobbying activities and major research studies. Why? Because phthalates have been linked in recent studies to childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes, especially in older women.

Scientists now place phthalates in a class of chemicals termed “endocrine disruptors” – because they have been shown to affect the endocrine hormonal system of the human body. They actually mimic hormones; as a result, there is potential for neurological and reproductive damage.

Researchers found that adult women have higher levels of phthalate metabolites than men do, probably because they use more cosmetics and other skin and hair care products.

Recent studies have also demonstrated possible connections between plastic toys and childhood obesity – and now toy manufacturers are rushing to remove phthalate plastics from the market.

We live in a chemical world – see the new September 2012 updates to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (2009).

Yes, this is scary stuff.

According to the CDC, “the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that the DEHP [probably the most common phthalate] may reasonably be anticipated to be a human carcinogen. The EPA has determined that DEHP is a probable human carcinogen. These determinations were based entirely on liver cancer in rats and mice. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has stated that DEHP cannot be classified as to its carcinogenicity to humans.”

Our air, water, and food are all loaded with chemicals – an environment that our ancestors never experienced. Leading environmentalists Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie described the effects of their self-tests in their startling book, Slow Death By Rubber Duck (2011).

It’s now almost ‘old hat’ to say that we live our 21st Century lives very differently than people did in the past. We plunge our hands into detergents to wash dishes and clothes. We add fabric softeners to the wash water; spray aerosol fragrances into the air; hold objects near our heads that emit rays (mobile phones) or sleep up close to machinery that emit measurable radiation (TVs). We walk under wires or live near huge towers that any good electrician could tell you send out huge waves of energy.

What are we doing to our bodies? It’s a question I find myself asking daily. As I continue to research for this blog and my own interest, I am increasingly grateful for companies like Paul Penders International that takes an environmentally conscious stand and uses only high quality organically grown herbs in their formulas.

Given the choice between coating yourself in plastic and washing in tropical herbs and flowers, which would you choose?

By Teviot Fairservis.


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Treats Of Living On A Small Rainforest Island… (Part 1 of 2)

The treats of living on a small rainforest island some 12,000 miles from San Francisco are many. Of course, I can talk for days about the stunning beauty of nature here — but in the end, it is the people who live here who make it special.

Langkawi is not like America where huge chunks of lands were taken from the Indians (Native Americans) and “we the government” were reluctant to give it back for all kinds of dark reasons (money and power were involved as usual). On Langkawi, the land belongs to the local people and the citizens of Malaysia. The native islanders have their own pace for things. They seem happier and less worried than what I see among ‘city folks’ when we fly to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

People from all over the world visit Langkawi – some even come by accident. For example, I know several sailors who happened to land in this paradise and decided never to leave. Others I know first heard about it through ‘the grapevine’ and decided to visit – as did I.

An island paradise with unusual tropical herbs and flowers…

What first attracted me to the island was when someone told me about its unique flora, especially the tropical herbs and flowers that grow wild here. I flew almost the next day to Langkawi (about a one-hour flight over the blue seas from the capital Kuala Lumpur) and spent a few days on what I quickly came to think of as the best place on earth – at least for me. That was confirmed when I visited Dr. Ghani, a medical doctor who has a spectacular herbal garden and is an expert on all the plants that grow in the special island environment.

I have met stranded sailors and ‘yachties’ who hang out at the local bars or who have found a way to make a living doing all kinds of odd jobs. Some of those jobs were things they always had wanted to do but never could because of the cost-of-living or the regulations in America and Europe. Nowadays, in the US and Europe these regulations are killing many initiatives to start up something new and exciting.

Well hey… here is this still unspoiled island and thus a lot of opportunities as well — for charity work, translation, photography, arts… This is what Langkawi is — and at least for a while it will stay the same — as long as people like me are writing this message on our blog read in 60 countries.

The second part of this blog story…

Gynura Procumbens, an herb used traditionally
in Southeast Asia for healing

In Part #2 — coming soon – please read about my meeting with Dr. Hugo (Dr. Hugh Brennan) who has lived on this island for over 20 years now and how he discovered the spectacular health benefits of “Gynura Procumbens,” a plant that grows widely on this wonderful tropical island. And how our company is planning to start a study and test program – with the highest hopes – to incorporate the extract of the leaves of this still mostly unknown “super plant” into our products for even better skin care.

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