A CHEM Trust Christmas
If Christmas is a festival you celebrate, then it might be worth thinking about how you can reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals via the different gifts and related paraphernalia associated with the festive season. There are a range of harmful chemicals that are still allowed to be present in everyday products and that are not listed on labels. Whilst it is impossible for consumers to avoid all harmful chemicals (and why CHEM Trust works primarily on chemicals and policy legislation change), there are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure to chemicals that we know have a negative effect on the endocrine or hormone system.
Read on for the 12 recommendations on how to have a CHEM Trust Christmas:
1. Buying your brussel sprouts or other vegetables? If it isn’t too expensive, buying organic is a good way to reduce your exposure to pesticides used to grow food.
2. To highlight the presence of PFAS in food packaging, in May we published the results of a collaborative EU-wide study we were involved in. Worryingly, the results showed that all of the food paper packaging we tested had been intentionally treated with PFAS. The report findings have been a key resource to support our call for a ban on all non-essential uses of PFAS, including in food packaging.
3. 2021 was the first year of ‘Brexit Britain’ where the UK took steps towards designing its own system of chemicals management (UK REACH). Throughout the year we highlighted worrying signs of divergence from the global gold standard of EU chemicals management. In December our concerns mounted, leading us to question the viability of the new UK regulatory system.
We still do not know when the UK Chemicals Strategy will be released which will outline the UK Government’s approach for managing chemicals. We wrote to the Government back in May 2021 with 26 other UK public health and environmental NGOs outlining 12 Key Asks we want to be prioritised in the strategy. Over the course of the year, we raised awareness on the importance of our asks and the issue of chemical pollution amongst other UK NGOs.
4. Heading outside to build a snowman? Waterproof clothing is sometimes treated with harmful, “forever chemicals” PFAS. When choosing new waterproofs look for ones that state they are PFAS (or PFC) free on their labels.
5. Unwrapping the presents you buy for family and friends only to rewrap them in more plastic based packaging might also be a habit to drop this Christmas. Plastic packaging used to wrap food and other products can contain some nasty chemicals. Buying presents that are not already wrapped in plastic is a good rule of thumb.
6. Children are particularly vulnerable to harmful chemicals due to the effect they can have on their development. Check out our page on this here and top tips for buying toys here.
When the big day arrives, there will still be opportunities to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals:
7. Will you be cooking anything in a non-stick pan on Christmas day? Many types of non-stick pans contain harmful PFAS. Try not to scratch or burn the surface and if it isn’t too late, add a stainless steel or ceramic pan onto your Christmas list!
8. Make sure you ventilate your home – even though it may be cold outside. This is to ensure harmful chemicals that can build up in house dust and released from products and soft furnishings are not inhaled by your family and festive guests.
9. Thinking of reheating your turkey for that boxing day sandwich? Don’t microwave it in plastic containers. When exposed to heat, plastic packaging can release harmful chemicals into food.
10. When you finally get round to cleaning the kitchen after a big day of cooking, try to ensure that the cleaning products you use are free from harmful chemicals. The best way to do this is to cut down the range of cleaning products you use and go for soap and water where possible. Making your own cleaning fluids from vinegar and bicarbonate of soda is another great way to ensure you know you are cleaning without chemicals that can harm your health and that of the environment.
We hope that you all will be able to enjoy a restful winter break, and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, if you are celebrating!
12. Finally, our last recommendation for Christmas is to relax! We know it can be overwhelming to work out how to avoid hazardous chemicals in the home. Read more about the work that CHEM Trust is doing at EU and UK levels, including pushing for hazardous chemicals to be out of consumer products by 2030.