Environmental pollution is a huge issue these days. Most anywhere you go you will find toxins and chemicals. We absorb them through the skin and they get into our bodies. Not only through absorption, but through inhaling as well is how we end up with these harmful toxins in our system. There’s no escaping as these toxins are everywhere.
Because there’s no way to totally eliminate toxins, the best thing you can do is minimize your exposure to them. This means replacing your cleaning supplies with safe, non-toxic cleaning supplies. This also includes replacing your toothpaste, deodorants, toilet tissue, and other toiletries to make sure you’re using chemical free products.
By just making a few changes, you can significantly cut down on toxic exposure and in return remove damage causing substances from your environment.
There are many health problems and symptoms that can arise from exposures to normal, everyday products that we use. Most people are not aware of the harmful conditions that can come about. Here are a few conditions and symptoms:
- learning disabilities
- Breathing and allergy issues
- Backaches and stiff joints
- Nervous system irritation
- Fertility and/or menstrual problems
- Brain fog, memory loss
- Weak immune system
- Mood swings
- Premature puberty
Despite lack of proper testing for consumer safety companies continue to sell their products, and consumers continue to buy them! Most do not even consider what’s in products and how it can affect them. Sadly, if something doesn’t have a strong chemical smell, or certain ingredients in it, many don’t believe the product can do a good job of cleaning. Society has been conditioned to use bleach and other harsh chemicals if they really want something to be considered “clean”. Time after time the search is for antibacterial products or those that kill viruses. Unfortunately those that make those claims are often times harmful to our health. The good news is that you can find non-toxic natural products that kill germs and clean just as well.
Captain Obvious should be avoiding any supplies that have a warning label on them. Pass those products right on by. Same goes for anything that is unnaturally scented or has a fragrance. Disinfectants can cause damage to your organs long-term. Remember, if you don’t know what an ingredient is then you probably should not use the product. Watch out for products that say they are “green” or “natural”. That can mean any and everything. Do your research to understand what the company actually means when they say “green”.
Air Fresheners and Sprays
While air fresheners may make your home smell nice temporarily, they do little to actually freshen the area. If you have a smell in your house seek the source of the smell rather than cover it up. Fragrances and sprays can warp your sense of smell and negatively affect your nasal passages and nervous system. You’re basically just inhaling harmful chemicals and toxins when you use these products. Essential oils and natural sprays are much better.
If you would like to enjoy aromatic smells, place essential oils in a diffuser or, even, a pan of hot water. This will produce a more relaxing, safe, and all-natural aroma.
How to Detox Your Home
Detoxing is often related to your body, skin, and even hair, but detoxing your home is so important. The environment where you live and sleep should be one that is clean and fresh. Here are some more tips for detoxing your home to be healthy and well.
Have Indoor House Plants
Plants don’t just add a decorative element, but can actually cleanse the air and provide natural oxygen in your home. Many live plants not only cleanse the air of impurities, but have soil bacteria that helps to get rid of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds that might be in the air. If you run your air conditioner or heater regularly, you might have some traces of dust and other impurities in the air, which plants can help to cleanse in your home. It is good to have at least one house plant in the living room, kitchen, and other common areas.
Use Natural Candles
If you like to use candles in your home, whether for the ambiance, scent, or heat they provide, you need to re-think the types of candles you use. When trying to detox your home, it is best that you avoid anything artificial or heavy chemicals. Unfortunately, many of your regular scented candles have additives that you probably don’t want to be in the air of your home where your family and pets live. Instead, try to use some natural candles like those made of soy or beeswax.
Use More Natural Cleaning Products
As discussed earlier, cleaning supplies are huge when it comes to detoxing your environment. Naturally, having a clean home is part of detoxing it, but if you are using bleach and a lot of harsh chemicals, you are only adding more toxins into the air. Instead of doing this, start switching to natural and organic cleaning products. You can use apple cider vinegar, plain distilled vinegar, baking soda, and many other natural items to clean most areas of your home. Baking soda is great for pet stains and deodorizing, while lemon and vinegar are perfect for disinfecting. You should also ditch the dryer sheets, as they really are not necessary.
Clean the HVAC Unit
If you have a central air conditioner and heater in your home, that might be causing a lot of debris and dander in your home. You need to keep the air filter cleaned regularly and have the ducts cleaned by a professional about once a year.
Cookware can also be a source of toxins in your home. Of course the obvious no-no is plastic cookware. When plastic melts it leaches chemicals into your food or whatever you have in the container. For that reason if you must use a microwave, choose ceramic or glass when heating up foods. If you’re wondering about Teflon it’s just as bad. You do not want to buy any cookware that has PTFE (polymer polytetrafluoroethylene) which can cause cancer and birth defects. Aluminum pots and pans are no better. 100 % stainless steel is the better choice. Use ceramic or glass if you can. You don’t want the glass to shatter so use even heat and don’t make sudden moves when it comes to temperature such as moving the glass from hot to cold. Let it cool down first. Ceramic cookware is good as well.
Here are a few of my favorite cookware brands made of ceramic and stainless steel (free of PFOA, PFOS, PTFE, heavy metals, and more.
Environmental Toxins Found In The Home
Toxins and toxic chemicals are in almost every American home. These toxic substances can enter your home through the air, ground, and in products that you bring into your living space. Your level of exposure to these toxins determines how harmful they are to your health.
The level of risk from exposure to environmental toxins is measured by:
- Type of chemical
- Amount or dose
Although the body can remove small amounts of toxins, over-exposure can be caused by sudden, overwhelming contact or long-term buildup up to toxic substances. Toxins can cause everything from skin rashes to digestive issues to breathing problems.
Over-exposure to some toxins have been linked to chronic health problems like diabetes, disruption of the reproductive system, cancer, and death.
Many of the everyday products your use for cleaning your home contain toxic chemicals. Spills, inhaling, and misuse of these products can lead to over-exposure. Some common products include:
- Window and glass cleaner
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Laundry soap
- Oven cleaner
Personal Care Products
The California Department of Health Data Summary found over 88 chemicals in more than 73,000 personal care and cosmetic products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, or harm to the reproductive system.
Manufacturers do not always have to label their products with these toxins if they are components of fragrances. Some of the most common toxins found in these products include:
Alternative products do exist that do not contain these toxins. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the power to regulate or require manufacturers to remove them.
Building Products and Household Furnishings
In the recent past, many building products and home furnishings contained harmful toxic chemicals. These chemicals were often used to improve the products’ strength and durability. Although many of these chemicals have been banned, older homes may still contain these items. Over time, the products can wear out, releasing toxic substances into the home environment. Examples include:
- Lead paint and lead pipes
- Arsenic in treated lumber
- Floor and wall coverings
Lead has been used in paint and pipes because it is durable and pliable. Lead poisoning can cause neurologic changes and developmental delays, especially in children. Children are the most at risk from home environmental lead poisoning because they often play on the floor where dust with lead particles land.
Children also put objects into their mouths and may chew on windowsills painted with lead paint. Formula and juice mixed with water increase a child’s exposure to lead from pipes. Pediatricians routinely check children’s blood levels for lead exposure.
Arsenic was used until 2004 to treat green wood to prevent bugs and rot. Many older outdoor play structures and decks contain arsenic. In a study, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that two of every five soil samples from backyards and playgrounds had high arsenic levels.
Some furniture and floor and wall covers contain chemicals used as fire retardants. Like building products, these products may break down in older homes and furnishings. Asbestos, another building product used for its flame-retardant properties, can break down, and the fibers can be inhaled into the lungs.
Air and Soil
Chemical toxins found in the air and soil in your environment can also harm your health. These include:
- Carbon Monoxide
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), ozone is created by the exposure of polluted air to sunlight or ultraviolet light. Ozone produced outside of the home can infiltrate the house through open windows and doors and react with indoor surfaces, creating additional pollutants.
Carbon monoxide comes from combustion and burning. It is one of the leading causes of poisoning in the United States, usually from house fires. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas released by the soil that can seep into basements through a home’s foundation.
Environmental toxins can be present in your home in a variety of forms. Be aware of chemicals in the products you buy and in older items in your home. Toxins in the air and soil can also get into your home and may be harmful to your health.
6 Ways To Reduce Exposure To Environmental Indoor Toxins
Environmental indoor toxins can come from everyday products in your home, building materials, cleaning and personal care products, the food you eat, and the water you drink. Although the body can remove small amounts of toxins, over-exposure causes toxins to build up and harm your health. You can reduce your exposure to environmental indoor toxins by knowing which items may be toxic and how to limit the risks.
Environmental indoor toxins are dangerous because of how often and how long people are exposed to them. According to the National Human Activity Pattern Survey published in the Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, people in developed countries spend 90% of their time indoors. At home, you may be breathing, touching, and ingesting environmental indoor toxins.
The level of risk from exposure to environmental toxins is measured by:
- Type of chemical
- Amount or dose
Leaking containers or being accidentally splashed with a chemical can result in a sudden, overwhelming exposure. More often, exposure to environmental indoor toxins happens over time because people are exposed to these toxins daily in their homes.
Toxins are responsible for multiple health problems, including:
- Damage to Skin and Eyes
- Digestive, Respiratory, Endocrine, Cardiac, and Reproductive Issues
- Developmental Delays in Children
Toxins are so prevalent in indoor and outdoor environments that a study published by the National Center for Environmental Health found multiple environmental chemicals in samples taken from every human test subject.
According to studies done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), environmental indoor toxins affect children the most because they breathe faster than adults and often play on the floor where toxins in dust settle. Pregnant women, immunocompromised people, and the elderly are also at high risk for increased exposure because of the time they spend indoors.
- Trap Dust
Furniture, floor, and wall coverings and building products may contain environmental toxins that pollute the air inside your home. Over time, these products break down and release toxic chemicals into the air.
The toxins then attach to dust particles, which fall on floors and other surfaces. When dusting, use a damp cloth to trap dust instead of moving it around or sending it back into the air. Use a HEPA filter or bag in your vacuum to trap dust too.
- Use Protection
Household cleaners like bleach, oven cleaner, and toilet bowl cleaner can splash onto your skin and cause rashes from chemical burns. Wear latex dishwashing gloves to protect your hands and forearms. Never mix different cleaning chemicals. Mixing can cause chemical reactions that create toxic fumes. Use household cleaners in well-ventilated areas to avoid inhaling them.
- Check Your Food
You may be bringing environmental toxins indoors with your food. Produce and grains can carry fungi and mold that are toxic. These types of toxins often cause food poisoning. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you:
- Don’t assume that if something is natural that it is safe
- Throw away bruised, damaged, discolored, or moldy food
- Throw away food that doesn’t smell or taste fresh or has an unusual taste
Produce may have pesticides so the surface. Pesticides contain multiple environmental toxins. Wash produce before eating to reduce your exposure.
- Wash Your Hands
Your hands come into contact with dust, products, and foods that may contain environmental toxins. Wash your hands often, especially before eating, to reduce exposure and the risk of ingesting these toxins.
- Make Your Own
To reduce exposure from cleaning products, but brands that are chemical-free or make your own. Water and baking soda can be used to scrub pots and pans, lemon juice cuts grease, and vinegar can be used to wash windows and glass. Personal care products like shampoo and cosmetics may also contain toxins. Read the labels and look for brands that are chemical-free.
- Filter Your Water
According to a study in the journal Integrative Medicine, 25% of Americans are exposed to water in their homes that exceed the EPA standards for contaminant and toxin levels. Filter your water coming into your home with a carbon filter. You can also use an electronic filtering system to remove heavy metals that could expose you to additional environmental toxins.
10 Tips To Protect Yourself From Toxins We Encounter Every Day
Toxins and toxic chemicals can be found in a variety of products that we use and encounter in our everyday lives. Exposure to toxins, especially over a prolonged period of time can lead to numerous health issues including hormonal interference, endocrine disruption, pregnancy/reproductive problems, and even disease.
Thus, taking adequate measures to reduce toxins in our lives and environments can go a long way to promote overall health and wellness. The following article outlines 10 tips that can be used to protect yourself from common environmental toxins.
- Watch What You Eat: Toxins can easily be found in the foods and beverages we regularly consume. As much as possible, buying USDA organic food items helps to reduce exposure to toxins in food such as herbicides, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Additionally, properly washing and cooking food can further prevent toxin intake.
- Increase Water Intake: Water is essential to help flush toxins from the body, so proper hydration is essential to keeping toxins flowing out of the body and preventing toxic buildup that can lead to sickness and disease. Ensuring the water, you drink is filtered is another good way to help promote wellness and avoid toxins.
- Watch Your Cleaning Products: Many cleaning products used in the home and other indoor environments contain toxic chemicals that we breathe in when we use them. Common toxins found in cleaning products include formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide, perchloroethylene, and 2-butoxyethanol. Steering clear of these ingredients in the cleaning products used in your environment can promote wellness and protect against toxin intake.
- Pursue BPA-Free Products: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in many hard plastics that are commonly used each day. Research has linked exposure to BPA to health complications such as fertility issues, heart disease, respiratory conditions, weight problems and other conditions. Thus, avoiding BPA by switching to BPA-free products is another way to protect yourself from this toxin exposure.
- Avoid Plastics If Possible: Plastics with the recycle symbols #3 (PVC), #6 (polystyrene), and #7 (other) are known to have a greater potential of leaching toxins. Thus, avoiding these plastics specifically is a strong way to reduce your exposure to toxins. Switching to glass or ceramics is a viable alternative, but if plastics must be used making sure not to microwave or dishwash these items can also reduce the risk of leaching toxins.
- Switch Personal Care Products: Many personal care products (i.e., shampoos, conditioners, makeup, deodorants, etc.) contain a variety of toxins that can seep into our skin and cause health issues. Being intentional about avoiding products that contain toxins can improve our health and reduce outcomes linked to toxins in the body. Common toxins found in personal care products that should be avoided include phthalates, sulfates, formaldehyde, parabens, mineral oil, PFAs, PFCs, Triclosan, and Polyethylene Glycol among several others.
- Eliminate Air Fresheners: Many air fresheners have been found to emit more than 100 chemicals that can include volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds. These compounds then contribute to hazardous indoor air pollution via direct and secondary reaction. Opening the windows to get fresh air circulation, using fresh florals and plants, or simmering seasonal herbs and spices can be a great alternative to promote fresh and clean air while reducing the risk of toxin exposure.
- Watch Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation: Appliances can lead to electromagnetic radiation exposure that can be harmful to the body in large amounts and particularly over a prolonged period of time. Making sure that electrical appliances are at least 1.5 meters away from areas where a lot of time is spent can help cut down on exposure to electromagnetic fields. Also, reducing the use of cellular devices as much as possible and turning phones to airplane mode when possible, can also help to reduce this type of toxic exposure.
- Reduce Animal Protein and High-Mercury Fish Intake: Meat and other animal products have been shown to store toxins. Limiting your daily intake of these items can minimize exposure risks. Additionally, monitoring the intake of fish high in mercury such as tuna, swordfish, and shark and replacing with low-mercury options such as herring, salmon, cod, or snapper can also work to protect against toxin exposure.
- Boost Your Immune System: Eating foods and taking supplements that support immune health is an additional means of protecting yourself from everyday toxins. Increasing Vitamin C intake can provide antioxidants that help cleanse and protect the body. Other immune boosting vitamins and minerals can help to boost the body’s detoxification system and aid it in processing toxic chemicals and destroying harmful infectious agents.
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Rowe, K. (2020, August 31). How to avoid harmful toxins in your life | BrainMD. BrainMD Health Blog. https://brainmd.com/blog/how-to-get-rid-of-harmful-toxins/
Women’s Voices for the Earth. (2020, January 9). 10 steps to avoid toxic chemicals. https://www.womensvoices.org/avoid-toxic-chemicals/ten-ways-to-avoid-toxic-chemicals/