Federal policies both make us sick and threaten our ability detoxify with NAC—all while industry lines its pockets. Action Alert!
One government agency kowtows to special interests to expose us to dangerous chemicals, and another government agency threatens to ban the very products that can help us recover from being exposed to those chemicals. New information sheds further light on the dangers of many ubiquitous cleaning products for human health—products that the EPA is responsible for reviewing for safety. Avoiding these products is ideal, but detoxification may be needed using antioxidants like NAC—yet the FDA is threatening to ban this critical nutrient. We cannot let this happen.
Everyday household cleaning products emit dangerous pollutants in the air that can negatively affect human health. One recent study found that mopping with common monoterpene-based cleaning products exposes us to as many volatile organic compounds in the air as what you would inhale if you’re standing on a busy road during rush hour with thousands of cars passing by. Monoterpene-based products are common for their citrus scent and are used ubiquitously in cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and perfumes. They are used in products labeled as “essential oils” as well. If something is citrus or pine scented, it likely has monoterpenes.
Air fresheners, for example, may contain monoterpenes in addition to a host of other dangerous chemicals, including phthalates (endocrine disruptors), formaldehyde (a carcinogen), styrene (causes cancer and neurotoxicity), and VOCs like 1,4 dichlorobenzene (affects lung function and is a carcinogen). The oxidation of monoterpenes has been shown to cause oxidative stress on human cells, negatively affecting cellular proliferation and viability.
Once again, the EPA doesn’t seem to care as much about public health as it does about industry profits. The EPA is responsible for reviewing the safety of products that disinfect and sanitize, but it largely fails at this task. As others have pointed out, the agency’s safety review process is not equipped to evaluate a product’s potential for endocrine disruption or neurotoxicity, even though many of these products are linked with these dangers. We’ve detailed the other reasons for the EPA’s failure to protect the public from toxic chemicals in earlier coverage.
As we reported previously, these chemical exposures affect all of us, but particularly a growing subset of the population with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). MCS is a condition that affects an estimated 13 percent of the US population, nearly 43 million people. There is a spectrum for chemical sensitivity, with MCS patients representing those who are most vulnerable. But repeated exposures to these chemicals could be moving those without MCS closer to a state of health where they become more sensitive to these exposures. And whether or not one has MCS, it is still a good idea to limit our exposure to these chemicals and pollutants because they can still cause cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects.
To avoid toxic air fresheners, consider removing sources of bad odors, ventilating your living space, using baking soda to absorb odors, and add more air-filtering plants to improve air quality and smell. You can also make your own essential oil sprays.
When exposures cannot be avoided, we must detoxify and remove harmful compounds from our body. The goal of Phase 1 of detoxification is to oxidize harmful toxins in the body to break them down and keep them moving through the body’s detox pathways. You can help activate Phase 1 pathways with foods rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, and others. Phase 2 detoxification is geared towards moving the broken-down toxins out of the body. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and glutathione are essential to this process. Without NAC and glutathione, the body cannot remove harmful toxins.
NAC is a selective immune system enhancer, and, as mentioned above, helps remove free radicals, which contribute to neurogenerative diseases and aging. NAC is also a precursor to glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants. Glutathione plays crucial roles in human health, particularly in detoxification.
Unfortunately, as we’ve been telling you, the FDA is threatening to ban NAC supplements because the agency claims it was sold as a drug before it was a supplement; meanwhile, Big Pharma is hoping to turn it into an expensive drug using a new indication.
This is outrageous on a number of fronts. Consider that NAC is used in hospitals to treat acetaminophen poisoning precisely because it helps detoxify—yet the FDA threatens to remove NAC as a supplement and make it harder for consumers to obtain?
Further, to ban NAC, the FDA would be using a false interpretation of the law. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) says that, if an ingredient is investigated as a drug before it is sold as a supplement or a “new supplement” notification has been filed, then that substance cannot be a supplement. But DSHEA is not supposed to have a retroactive effect; that is, the law going forward from DSHEA’s enactment is, if an ingredient is studied as a drug after 1994, and that ingredient wasn’t sold as a supplement before studied, it cannot be a supplement. It would be unfair and inconsistent with Congressional intent to retroactively apply this provision to all substances studied as drugs since drug approval began. Otherwise, supplements that were legal before 1994 (like NAC) and sold for decades can suddenly and absurdly become illegal.
We cannot lose access to this critical supplement. Every day we are bombarded with toxins and pollutants from a variety of sources, notably our food, air, water, and consumer products; we can take some steps, but it is impossible to avoid all of these exposures. Threatening to remove a key health product that aids in detoxification to protect drug industry profits is outrageous. Help us push back against this callous indifference.
Action Alert! Write to the FDA and urge them to retain consumer access to NAC supplements. Please send your message immediately.