5 Products You Didn’t Know Were Linked To Toxic Fossil Fuels

Our ever-increasing reliance on products derived from crude oil is a threat to both our environment and our public health. Burning fossil fuels contributes to the rising levels of greenhouse gases and the effects of climate change. And fossil fuels also contribute to our world’s poor air quality – which the World Health Organization has linked to cancer and premature death.

And fossil fuels are used for more than just filling up our cars and heating our homes. The byproducts are used in a wide range of everyday products.

Two years ago, experts from the United Nations and the World Health Organization reported that chemicals like BPA, prevalent in products such as plastic water bottles and children’s toys and derived from petroleum, could be related to significant human health problems.

Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of New York State, has this to say: “Chronic exposure to petroleum products may affect the nervous system, blood and kidneys.”

While at this point it may be nearly impossible to avoid products that rely on petroleum (crude oil) as well as other sources of nonrenewable energy, the first step is understanding where these ingredients hide. Here are five products that you may not have realized are linked to toxic fossil fuels.

1. TOOTHPASTE

What’s in that toothpaste? One possible component is Poloxamer 407. Derived from petroleum, this is a surfactant, meaning that it allows oil-based ingredients to be dissolved into a water-based solution. Your toothpaste may also contain synthetic dyes made from petroleum or coal tar sources, such as D&C Yellow #10, D&C Red #30 and FD&C Blue #1, all approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. This is not true for all toothpastes, so check the list of ingredients next time you’re buying toothpaste.

2.  CHEWING GUM

Gum was originally an edible treat from trees. Spruce-sap chewing gums first appeared in the U.S. in the mid-1800s, introduced by entrepreneur John Curtis, who sold small sticks of “Maine Pure Spruce Gum.” However, these have since been replaced by sticks made with petroleum-derived paraffin wax. That’s right: you and your car are both sharing a fossil-fuel experience when you fill up at a gas station and buy a packet of chewing gum. The chewy quality in your gum comes partly from oil. Gum is exempt from labeling requirements enforced by the Food & Drug Administration. So when you read “gum base” as an ingredient, you should know that this base includes petroleum-derived paraffin wax.

3.  LIPSTICK

The presence of lead and other metals in lipstick has been well documented, but did you know that, just like chewing gum, plenty of lipsticks are made with paraffin wax? This white or colorless substance can be obtained from oil, coal, or shale, and gives lipstick its shape while acting as an emulsifier to provide smooth application. Lipsticks are not the only type of make up to use petroleum-based paraffin wax, but the good news is that there are an abundance of cosmetic brands these days that offer healthier alternatives.

4.  HAMBURGERS

Moving away from cosmetic and beauty products, let’s turn our attention to what we eat. According to David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist who specializes in agriculture, a huge amount of fossil fuels in the form of agrochemicals is necessary to grow the 35 million hectares of corn, 31.1 million hectares of soybeans allotted for livestock feed in the U.S. “Growing the corn used to feed livestock takes vast quantities of chemical fertilizer, which in turn takes vast quantities of oil. Because of this dependence on petroleum,” Pimentel told Food Revolution Network, “a typical steer will in effect consume 284 gallons of oil in his lifetime.” So anyone eating a hamburger made from one of these animals is consuming some of that oil.

5.  FISHING LURES

And for something completely different, check out how oil plays a part in almost every aspect of fishing. Whether it’s the poles, the boats, the life vests, the fishing lures or the ice chests, petroleum-based products play a huge part in all types of fishing. 

If you’re beginning to wonder whether products linked to toxic fossil fuels are all around us, you’re right. These five items are just the beginning of a gigantic number of products. Check out this list, to see how fossil fuel-based “goodies” are omnipresent in our lives.

Experts continue to warn us about the risks of fossil-fuel-derived products, and Big Oil continues to deny the science. But as individuals we have the power to make choices in what we consume. Be sure to scrutinize the labels on everything you purchase!

 

98 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim V10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim V10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

Don't use plastic bags: "The surface lubricant, used to keep plastic bags from sticking together is stearic acid. This long-chain fatty acid is derived from the rendering of beef fat".

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jennifer Manzi
Jennifer Manzi2 years ago

Remember hearing about this, nasty

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry K2 years ago

Many thanks to you !

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Shailja Mukhtyar
Shailja Mukhtyar2 years ago

did u know 1/2 your toothpaste tube could be pure Beef?? like Colgate & many many others!! ( several toothpaste are Halal & Kosher, avoiding pork & using Beef instead) & that doesnt waste lots of resources, water, land, food?? not to mention the revolting ideas of brushing w/ beef!!

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