How to Minimize Toxin Buildup
We are now a “chemical” society, using hundreds of chemicals in our normal daily activities. Of the almost 10 million chemicals known today, approximately 100,000 chemicals are used commercially. Of the 100,000 chemicals registered for commercial use in the European Union in 1981 and the 80,000 in the US, fewer than half had been subjected to even the most basic testing. Of the more than 80,000 chemicals in commerce in America, only a small percentage of them have ever been screened for even one potential health effect, such as cancer, reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity, or impacts on the immune system. Cosmetics have at least 5,000 chemicals; more than 3,200 are added to food. As many as 1,010 chemicals are used in the production of 11,700 consumer products, and about 500 chemicals are used as active ingredients in pesticides.
There’s a lot you can do to reduce exposure to risky chemicals. An important first step is to know what is in the products you buy for yourself and family.
Bottles and Beakers – Plastic baby bottles, bakers and tableware made from polycarbonate can leak potentially risky chemicals when worn or scratched. Replace battered or scratched plastic utensils with new ones.
Painting and Decorating – Many household paints give off dangerous fumes as they dry. Water-based paints are better because they contain fewer volatile organic compounds (or VOCs). Use water-based paints where possible.
Buying Toys – Toys made from PVC plastic can contain softeners called phthalates which are suspected hormone disruptors. Avoid them.
Food – Organic food is produced without using artificial chemical pesticides. Choose organic.
Smelling Nicer – Many perfumes and scented products, like air fresheners, contain worrying chemicals (such as artificial musk). Most firms keep their ingredients secret, writing “parfum” on the label instead. Open a window instead or use a air purifier of spraying air freshener.
Here are five quick ways to reduce your exposure to various environmental contaminants:
Avoid cigarette smoke. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals. At least 43 are known carcinogens (cause cancer in humans).
Avoid fish high in mercury and PCBs (in the US, these would be swordfish, shark, tuna steaks and farm-raised salmon)
Eat a low-fat diet. Pollutants like brominated flame retardants concentrate as they work up the food chain. So avoid the burgers and binges on ice cream and rich cheeses.
Watch what you apply to your skin. If you cannot do without cosmetics, pick natural or unscented cosmetics – ones without a lot of chemicals. But avoid nail polish – it’s one of the major sources of phthalates – a hormone disruptor.
If you are buying a computer or TV, make sure it’s free of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Most major manufacturers have phased them out, but not all. Ask before you buy.
To further minimize your exposure to chemicals, the following tips are worth considering:
Cleaning – most dish-washing liquids and detergents are made from petroleum; some contain alkylphenol ethoxylates, which are suspected hormone disruptors. If in doubt, wash your hands with plain soup, and clean you windows with vinegar or lemon juice.
Mites – Companies recommend you eradicate them with sprays, gels, powders and liquids, but most have very active chemical nasties. Avoid these chemicals if possible. The solution is to ventilate your rooms, air your beds, vacuum all surfaces and mattresses, and wash fabrics at high temperatures.
DIY and Gardens – avoid painting, pain stripping or using DIY products unless using eco-friendly brands. Don’t occupy newly painted rooms, and avoid using pesticides indoors or in the garden. Use water-based varnishes and glues, paints, stain removers, sealants and adhesives; and buy paints made from plant oils.
Cars – That “new car smell” comes from the high levels of chemicals escaping from the plastic, upholstery, carpeting and other synthetic materials. Beware!
Food – Don’t let food come into contact with PVC cling film as chemicals in the plastic wrap could leach into the food.. Buy organic fruit and vegetables. Wash and peel food.
If you want to regain or maintain your health and your life and stay out of the doctor’s office and hospital, do all the above with occasional body detox and you are well on your way to living a healthier, more meaningful and active life.