Wash hands after handling holiday lights

December 3, 2007

by Jennifer Gallus

Have you ever looked at the warning label on Christmas lights? I was shocked to read, “Handling the coated electrical wire on this product exposes you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after use.”

Who would guess that unbeknownst to the naked eye, such a dangerous film of chemicals existed on festive lighting?

And why is it only known to the State of California to cause health problems?

It would make more sense to be leery of, say, electrical cords manufactured near Chernobyl than ones manufactured in Minneapolis.

After reading the warning, I guess I shouldn’t be so concerned about whether or not the lights, which are stored in the garage all year, were exposed to mouse droppings.

Although those types of germs could make us sick, it probably wouldn’t cause birth defects or cancer!

I remember a few years ago, I took pictures of my boys playing with Christmas lights before I strung them on the tree. Did I have them wash their hands afterwards? No – I hadn’t read the precautions on the box.

It’s too bad that we have such complex chemicals in our daily products. Take dimethicone, for example. This ingredient can be found in almost every product used for daily grooming and hygiene. From shampoo, soap, and bubble bath, to hair spray, toothpaste, and cosmetics.

It is rumored to be a cancer-causing agent and its use is outlawed in Europe, but the US continues to use it widely.

Dimethicone, dimethicone copolyol, and cyclomethicone are silicone-derived emollients. They are listed on several web sites as cancer causing toxic ingredients in cosmetics and skin care.

Synthetic emollients are non-biodegradable and are listed as known tumor promoters that accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes.

Google “silicone toxicity” for more information.

To avoid products with this ingredient, look in the natural foods sections of grocery stores and/or visit Dan and Becky’s Market in Cokato. Not only natural foods can be found, but natural products for personal hygiene, cosmetics, and household cleaning are available.

I strongly believe in shopping the natural foods section. The less complex chemicals and ingredients we ingest or expose our skin to, the healthier we will be.

That doesn’t mean my family still doesn’t enjoy the somewhat unhealthy foods as well. I don’t think we are ready to completely cut those out, but items such as dairy, and fruits and vegetables, I think, are very important to purchase in the natural foods section.


My 6-year-old thought I was tormenting myself as I pulled some gray hairs out of my mane. So, after I pulled one out I showed it to him and he said, “Oh, it’s hideous!”