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Is Your Soap Putting You at Risk for Autoimmune Disease?

Washing your hands. Laundering the clothes. Cleaning countertops. These chores are completed on a regular basis. But what is the body exposed to in the process?

Organic solvents

Usually when you see the word "organic" you think: that's a good thing! Not in this case. Organic solvents (also known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds), are carbon-based substances that dissolve into other substances, which can be carcinogenic, neurotoxic, pose harm to the reproductive system, and yes, be a factor in developing an autoimmune disease. They include:

  • Benzene

  • Trichloroethylene

  • Formaldehyde

  • Ether

  • Ethyl acetate

  • Hexane

  • Toluene

  • Chloroform

One study found:

"Exposure to OSs (organic solvents) is a risk factor for developing ADs (autoimmune diseases)", and that "individuals with non-modifiable risk factors (i.e., familial autoimmunity or carrying genetic factors) should avoid any exposure to OSs in order to avoid increasing their risk of ADs"(bold added).

Another interesting fact: "A significant body of research has pointed out that, for autoimmunity to occur, the genetic background warrants to be combined with environmental injuries..." In other words, it's not necessarily the gene that dictates whether or not a person develops an autoimmune disease. Something has to initiate those genes to turn on which, in this case, are organic solvents.

Additional medical issues from organic solvent exposure

In addition to autoimmune disease, allergies, skin issues, asthma, and other inflammatory conditions can be exacerbated or caused by exposure to these chemicals. Also, think how detrimental these substances are to a child's development, and also how it will impact their risk for other diseases later in life.

Where are these chemicals found?

Everywhere. From laundry detergent to household cleaners to lotions, dish soap, shampoo - there is no shortage of bottles in which these toxins are lurking.

Clearly, it best to use cleaners that do not contain any chemicals, fragrances, or these solvents. That can be easier said that done, however, since many cleaners and personal care products labeled "natural" or even "hypoallergenic" contain these harmful ingredients.

Products are being added and changed all the time, so it's best to always do research.

Want the easy solution?

I offer a Chemical Consultation, either in person or over Zoom, for those interested in clearing chemicals out of the home. You can schedule this either by contacting me through the website,, or calling/texting 860-450-6512.

Organic Solvents as Risk Factor for Autoimmune Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Published online 2012 Dec 19. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051506

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