Thursday, 28 February 2019 03:23

A Toxin-Free Spa: Preventing Harm from Common Environmental Irritants

Written by   Erin Madigan-Fleck NMD, CDT, LMC, LEI, owner of DermaEducationTV Post Graduate Esthetic Training

Individuals are exposed to damaging environmental influences daily from the sun and chemicals in their cars, homes, and work environments. The spa and aesthetic setting are not excluded from external stimuli that may impact the professional’s health and the client’s health. Respiratory and skin sensitivities are among the most common influences that may be diminished through carefully planned preventative safety measures. Here are common environmental influences that can damage skin and possible preventative measures that can be taken.

Carbon monoxide is a common environmental factor, normally found through exhaust caused by buildings, cars, and construction. A way to combat this is by using a central ventilation system, exhaust fans, and air purifiers. Be sure to open windows and use fans to let fresh air in.

VOCs are outgassing from carpets and industrial materials; formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, and high VOC paint chemicals. Many plants will assist in absorbing chemical vapors, including areca palm, rubber fig, philodendron, spider plant, peace lily, and garden mum – although placing them in the room of concern may destroy the plant. Use air purifiers with HEPA filters. Keep rooms temperate and humidity low.

PBDEs are flame retardants, spray fabric coatings, bedspreads, blankets, sheets, and pillows. Look for chemical-free textiles and fabrics like pure cottons and wash thoroughly in very hot water with fragrance-free detergent before use.

Chloroform forms in tap water when chlorine is used to disinfect public water supplies. It can be found in all water sources and foods. Invest in central water filtration or sink attachments. Do not drink tap water or use for skin care without filtration if concerned about exposure.

People are exposed to pesticides through spraying for common indoor and outdoor pests. Over 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. These chemicals are of danger to everyone, including animals and, especially, children. If pests are present, identify the potential source and eliminate through greener practices. Ensure trash is removed daily and that no food is left out in the break area and do not store foods in cabinets. Invest in very secure outside trash cans and never leave trash bags on the ground.

Synthetic air fresheners, plugins, reed fragrance, and candles all contain synthetic chemicals, phalates, formaldehyde, VOCs, ozone, nitrate radicals, acetaldehyde, and at least 75 other harmful chemicals. Use only soy or beeswax candles with certified essential oils and no lead wicks. Purchase USDA organic essential oils for scenting treatment rooms with electric diffusers or make reed scenters or room sprays.

Dander and dust collect, causing allergy flares and upper respiratory distress. State boards require general sanitation and disinfecting practices. Using EPA-approved
bactericidal viricidals or disinfectants, wipe down equipment, counters, trash cans, bathrooms, and floor baseboards.

Stachybotrys chatarum and other molds are known for upper respiratory inflammation and allergies. Fungal infestation treatment should be approached by professionals. Purchase an EPA mold test kit, use a de-humidifier, and do not store items with high cellulose content, like paper and records, in boxes that will attract dampness. Use mold inhibitor products and avoid using carpet, especially in bathrooms.

Heavy metals that can be found in water (including well water) include arsenic, lead, cadmium, and aluminum. Use an EPA water test kit, invest in central water filtration or sink attachments, and do not drink tap water or water from plastic bottles – especially those with high BPA or PET numbers on the bottom of the bottles.

PVC are found in plastic wraps, plastic bottles, and plastic food storage. They can also be found in many fabrics including curtains and drapes, as well as cosmetic and beauty product packaging. They are endocrine disruptors. Avoid purchasing plastics for serving or food use in the spa. When possible, use paper or glass. Do not microwave plastics, foam containers, or plastic wrap and look for green alternatives in cosmetic and beauty packaging.

HEV light is light emitted in the high energy violet-blue range band from 400 to 450 nanometers. It has been associated with age related macular degeneration and accelerated skin aging and has been implicated to affect the skin more rapidly than UVA and UVB rays combined due to its ROS activity.
It has the potential to penetrate into the dermis where it can degrade important antioxidants.1 It has also been cited in accelerating the inflammatory cascade, which may encourage the development
of hyperpigmentation.
Limit cell phone, tablet, and television time. Use HEV screens on cell phones, computers, and even eyewear that helps shield HEV. Consume foods and supplements with antioxidants lutein, COQ10, vitamin C and A, and green tea. Look for these antioxidants in topical products, as well.

Electromagnetic field exposure (EMF) are various frequencies emitted from electronic devices. They may impact cellular aspects of the human body and have been implicated in measurable oxidative effects on tissues, such as the thyroid and the brain. 2, 3
Limit cell phone use and always use the speaker function or earphones. Avoid carrying cellphones close to the body – especially at the chest, head, or hip area. When using wireless headphones and earphones, avoid wearing them around the neck, as EMFs may be emitted even though the device may not be turned on.

1 Vandersee, Staffan, Marc Beyer, Juergen Lademann, and Maxim E. Darvin. “Blue-Violet Light Irradition Dose Dependently Decreases Carotenoids in HUman Skin, Which Indicates the Generation of Free Radicals.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (2015).
2 Kivrak, Elfide Gizem, Kiymet Kubra Yurt, Arife Ahsen Kaplan, Isinsu Alkan, and Gamze Altun. “Effects of electromagnetic fields exposure on the antioxidant defense system.” Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure 5, no. 4 (2017): 167-176.
3 Baby, Nikita Mary, George Koshy, and Anna Mathew. “The Effect of Electromagnetic Radiation due to Mobile Phone Use on Thyroid Function in Medical Students Studying in a Medical College in South India.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 21, no. 6 (2017): 797-802.
4 “Dampness and Mold in Buildings.” The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
5 “Natural Pest Control.” Planet Natural.
6 “Natural and Biological Pesticides.” National Pesticide Information Center.
7 “Home Water Testing.” United States Environmental Protection Agency.
8 “Air fresheners: Are they safe?” Poison Control.
9 Steinemann, Anne. “Ten questions concerning air fresheners and indoor built environments.” Building and Environment 111 (2017): 279-284.
10 UmmYusuf, Sarah. “Homemade Air Fresheners: Essential Oil Reed Diffusers.” Nature’s Nurture.
11 Steinemann, Anne. “Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions.” Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health 9, no. 8 (2016): 861-866.
12 “New Data Reveals One-Third of All Fragrance Chemicals Linked to Human, Environmental Harm.” Women’s Voices for the Earth.

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