Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.
– Ancient American Indian Proverb
Any substance that has a toxic element to it has the potential to build up in the body. Sometimes this build-up happens quickly; sometimes it happens over time.
Until we make ourselves aware of them, toxins will continue slipping past us with ease. You may choose to ignore these warnings if you wish, but from today it will be difficult to say you weren’t aware of them.
So the aim of this chapter is to help you spot potential areas of concern, as well as offering practical solutions. Some of the following information you may be aware of, some of it will shock you to the core!
You may recall how Johnson & Johnson recently paid out millions of dollars for failing to disclose an alleged cancer link to its baby powder! I cannot tell you why some manufacturers think it’s okay to put harmful ingredients into our products, but clearly, they do. It’s not until we face our own health crisis, that we begin to ask our own questions like what’s making us so sick?
Supermarkets aren’t the ones we can trust to diligently check our products for toxic ingredients. Perhaps it’s even a little naive to expect any corporation to police its own income streams.
We have a lot of ground to cover so let’s get the ball rolling with the body’s largest organ. What we put onto the skin goes into the skin, which in turn gets dumped into the bloodstream. No really, it’s true. Especially problematic are oils, cosmetics, bug sprays, creams, perfumes, underarm antiperspirants, yadda, yadda, yadda. If you aren’t feeling well, to begin with, these products slowly add to our toxic burden. Drip, drip, drip.
Skin is considered by many to be the body’s third kidney. Skin is alive and intelligent. If our goal is to keep illness at bay, then perhaps we should be making life easier for our living, breathing skin.
Still not convinced, huh?
Okay, try this. Every day for the next week try spraying perfume on a houseplant and watch as the leaves begin to curl up and die. Our skin is absorbent in the exact same way.
All too often, we stifle the body’s ability to regulate itself. This is achieved by wrapping our skin in layers of manmade fibers. If the shirt you are wearing is made up of the materials below then a rethink may be in order.
Polyester is made from synthetic polymers that come from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid. Polyester is perhaps one of the worst fabrics you can wear because it doesn’t allow the skin to breathe.
Teflon is increasingly being added to clothing because and the benefit is packaged as wrinkle-free. But most clothing labeled “no-iron” contains carcinogenic PFCs, but don’t take my word for it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that PFCs are cancer-causing compounds.
Acrylic fabrics are polycrylonitriles are also known to have carcinogenic qualities.
Rayon is treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone, and sulphuric acid. All are thought to survive regular washing.
Nylon is made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can irritate the skin.
The goal here isn’t to make your life more difficult, it’s to first bring awareness to these problems and then offer you viable solutions. So what’s the alternative to manmade fibers? That’s easy, before manmade materials came along we all used natural fibers like cotton, hemp, or wool. These products remain easy to find and make a good replacement. Natural fibers allow the body to cool without leaching toxic chemicals onto the skin.
Will doing this one thing change your health? I believe the more things you stack in your favor, the better your overall health becomes. On the flip side, we could also say that things of a toxic nature have the potential to compound.
GRAB A PEN AND PAPER
As we now move forward it might be helpful to grab a pen and paper to make a few side notes. There’s plenty of solid information coming your way. The good news is, each of the following recommendations is inexpensive and easy to put in place. The much bigger problem is remaining blissfully unaware of them. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Anti-bacterial hand soap sounds good but it should be the very first thing you banish to the trash can. Antibacterial soaps contain agents such as triclosan and triclocarban. The dangers of these two agents are many and well documented. They are endocrine disrupters that should have been banned years ago.
Better to use a regular bar of soap like the one Grandma used to use, but even then check the ingredients. The least toxic brands are usually found at your local health food store.
Yup, some medications have life-saving qualities, no question about it. But others may cause a toxic reaction. If your health has become less robust recently then stop what you are doing (even reading this!) and go check the insert.
See if your symptoms match any of the known side effects. If you hit a match, bingo! Talk to your doctor to replace or reduce the dose.
Water is water, right? Meh, not so fast.
Plastic water bottles can leach Bisphenol-A (BPA) into the water. BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can mess up your hormones. Some brands are worse than others, and some are simply filtered tap water. Which begs the question: why not cut out the middleman and install a water filter for your home?
There are lots of filters on the market but ANY filter is better than no filter. I’m not endorsing any product here but Berkey is known to manufacture a range of decent clean water filtration systems. They are simple in design and effective at what they do. That said, Berkey filters aren’t the cheapest on the market. But, over time, the cost of buying a good filter is offset by not having to buy plastic water bottles.
If your budget is a little tight, it’s better to find a filter that fits your budget today rather than waiting until tomorrow. You can always upgrade later. Without a filter, your kidneys become that filter!
There are tons of water filters out there, but as with most things, you tend to get what you pay for. Reverse osmosis filters are popular because they remove a wide range of impurities. But in doing so they can strip out minerals. You may need to restructure and re-mineralize the water after filtering. This is done by adding minerals back into the water.
Sometimes this can be done automatically during the filtration process. Another way is to allow a jug of filtered water to sit in the fridge overnight, and then add a pinch of Himalayan salt to it. A quick Google search will yield lots more information about how to replace minerals.
If you want to kick this up a notch, you can also test the quality of the water coming into your house. This is easy to do and (compared to illness) relatively inexpensive. Simply call a water specialist firm in your area. They will come out to your home, take a sample, and do the water test for you. If there’s a problem (and there usually is) a filter is the answer.
Once you have your water checked off the list, the single biggest problem is mold. Mold isn’t just the black stuff you see lurking around the bathtub. What I’m referring to here is a much bigger issue and potentially far more dangerous.
Mold can be microscopic and hidden from view. Symptoms can range from brain fog to chronic fatigue. Some people may even express anger or suffer from stubborn weight gain.
Keep an open mind and be aware that some family members are far more sensitive to mold than others. The good news is once you pinpoint a mold problem, life gets a whole lot easier.
The idea here is to become your own detective. Start by asking yourself whether the timing of any health issues corresponded with a house move? Microscopic mold can build up anywhere there is the slightest moisture. Moisture can come from an unseen leaking pipe in the ceiling, wall, or under the floorboards. Be on the lookout for any tell-tale signs such as brown water marks on ceilings.
It pays to be vigilant, water damage can be cleaned up by a landlord. But what lurks beneath carpets and behind sheetrock often goes unseen. If you are unsure, ask your neighbors if your home has flooded in the past.
To help you, there’s a test called an ERMI mold test. It’s an objective, standardized DNA based method of testing that will identify and quantify molds. At the time of writing, the test costs around $290. But again, think about lost work hours, doctor’s appointments, medications, or even failed relationships!
As we continue to shine the spotlight on toxins around the home, try to look at this process in a positive light. There is a very good chance that something I’m about to mention here is stressing your system. Once we remove it, health automatically improves. Until we find that stressor, the smartest thing we can do is keep stacking the odds in your favor. We can do this by continuing to removing as many known toxic items from your environment as possible. Just keep reading, because there is so much more to this book that just this chapter on toxins.
A good place to find toxins in any home is in the kitchen. Look below your kitchen sink and you will find some of the deadliest of all household poisons. Many of these products contain carcinogenic ingredients. Carcinogenic simply means the substance or product has the potential to cause cancer. I’m stating the obvious here because I need you to make this connection when wiping down countertops. The last place we need carcinogenic chemicals is where we place our food!
I get it, we obviously need to clean our houses, but a less toxic option would be to use 3% hydrogen peroxide. You can buy this from any pharmacy. It’s inexpensive and does a stellar job at killing bacteria, especially on countertops.
3%t hydrogen peroxide comes already diluted in the bottle. 3% percent hydrogen peroxide is quite a mild strength, it’s NOT going to burn holes in your clothes, (that would be a different strength altogether). 3% is the same stuff that’s sprayed on cuts and scrapes to clean them.
For now, let’s stick with household toxins found in the kitchen. Wooden cutting boards are said to trap 200x more bacteria than your toilet seat. (Eew, now that’s nasty.) When you spray 3% hydrogen peroxide on cutting boards, any bacteria will turn white and fizz. When you hear the fizz, it kinda lets you know hydrogen peroxide is doing its intended job. It also works pretty well if you get any meat/blood spills on the counter or in the fridge.
Use 3% hydrogen peroxide wherever you would a carcinogenic chemical. It’s generally much safer around food than any of the usual household cleaners found in the store. You can even gargle with 3% hydrogen peroxide … how many things under your sink would you do that with?
Remember that the skin is super absorbent. Anytime you hear the word toxic try to also hear the word insidious. Those harsh toxic chemicals have the potential to build up over time.
Rather than use a harsh toilet cleaner, alcohol can be just as effective at killing bacteria. Simply turn a regular bottle of (cheap) vodka into a spray by pouring it into a plastic spray bottle. Hey-presto, you now have an effective spray cleaner without any carcinogenic ingredients!
When it comes to cleaning glass, vinegar and newspaper cleans best, and without toxic side effects. You can use regular baking powder with a squirt of lemon to clean just about everything else!
Every time we let rip with that odor neutralizer we release a dangerous concoction of chemicals into the air. We like to think of air pollution as being an outdoor problem, but these types of sprays hang around in the air and irritate the lining of the lungs.
If you are looking to improve the overall air quality in your home/office/ bedroom, then plants are an inexpensive way of doing it. NASA has detailed scientific research in this area bringing ample credibility to the topic.
Tip- If you don’t have a green thumb, ask the sales assistant before you buy. Some plants are robust, others are picky. Getting this right in advance makes life just that little bit easier.
If your house smells for any reason, simply skip the harsh chemicals and open up a couple of windows, last time I checked, fresh air was still free!
Our lungs are important; we need them to work optimally as they form a vital part of the detoxification system. Continuing to breathe in harsh chemicals will irritate the delicate linings of the respiratory system.
Be especially aware of any nonstick pans. Teflon or polytetrafluoroethylene (or PTFE for short) releases toxic gasses as it heats up. These toxic gasses have been linked to organ failure, reproductive damage, cancer, and other harmful health effects. I know, right? Who makes this stuff?
Also, begin thinking about the oils you cook with. As a rule of thumb, if your frying pan is producing smoke while you cook, you are producing free radicals.
Free radicals are highly reactive uncharged molecules. Free radicals cause damage by adversely altering lipids, proteins, and even DNA.
Prevention will always outperform cure, better to cook with avocado oil, clarified butter (ghee), or coconut oil. Generally speaking, these oils are better because they are more resistant to heating.
Oils to avoid at all costs are corn, canola, soybean, safflower, and sunflower. These oils have unstable fats, which make an abundance of free radicals as well as destroying the nutritional properties of your food.
POTS & PANS
Aluminum saucepans were once quite popular. But we now know that trace amounts of aluminum can leach into the food as the pan heats up. When the amount of aluminum consumed exceeds the body’s capacity to excrete it, illness follows. An added concern is that recent research has found high accumulations of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. A good quality set of stainless steel pots and pans is a much better option.
Lead is a known neurotoxin and dangerous heavy metal. Even in small amounts, lead can cause a wide range of serious health problems. As a side note, lead can also be found in many cosmetics. In recent years, government agencies have done a great job of alerting the public to the dangers of lead paint. The dangers of lead paint are real and far-reaching, and full credit where it’s due — bravo to the environmental agency.
But if it’s the goal of the government to steer us away from danger, why stop at lead? Why isn’t the same level of attention being directed to other household toxic products such as the mercury found in light bulbs?
Many of these bulbs were pushed on to the unsuspecting public as a way to save energy. They are now declared so toxic that some local dumps won’t take them. Check to see how many of those curly shaped light bulbs you have in your home. But be especially careful not to break one!
We have become so entwined with these toxic products that it’s no longer possible to completely avoid them all. But we can minimize our personal exposure to them.
Most people start their day by brushing their teeth, taking a shower, and then rolling on some kind of underarm deodorant. Let’s take a closer look at these daily occurrences.
When it comes to oral hygiene, it’s hard to get away from fluoride. There’s so much controversy already surrounding fluoride that I’m going to sidestep it all and leave you with this single thought …
To function optimally your thyroid needs iodine. Iodine and fluoride appear on the same periodic table as halogens. This simply means that they are both chemically similar. Some believe that fluoride has the ability to block iodine absorption. That’s a pretty big deal if you happen to be a thyroid.
Once the thyroid is compromised the whole body suffers. A daily hit of fluoride may have the potential to compound over time. Symptoms of a poorly functioning thyroid are fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, heat, dry skin, and facial puffiness.
If enough of us make the switch, then perhaps corporations will begin to sit up and take notice. When it all seems too much, I like to think of it this way: we get to vote three times a day with the food we eat and maybe once a week with the toiletries we buy. Business follows the money, period.
Regular store bought shower gels and some soaps have toxic ingredients that can range from aluminum to parabens. In 2004, British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre Ph.D. found parabens present in malignant breast tumors. Parabens are well known to mimic/disrupt estrogen in the body and are found in many cosmetics.
Grab your shower gel, deodorant, makeup, and anything else that comes into contact with your skin. Look at the label of ingredients; a quick Google search should shock you to the core. Most well-stocked health food stores carry safer alternatives. We can all do our bit to stop these toxic invaders from seeping into our homes by switching to greener brands.
Like any good detective, we are searching for clues in every corner of the house. It’s worth noting that new furniture, rugs, and plastics ALL have the potential to “off-gas.” Off-gassing (also known as outgassing) refers to the release of airborne particulates or chemicals. This is something to be aware of in a small bedroom, especially for those with young children.
Fire retardants can be particularly problematic. These can be found in your favorite armchair, on a mattress, and even in pillows. As pillows are next to our face for long periods, try to replace them with the least toxic option.
Let’s not forget our old friend carbon monoxide which can come to our home through a faulty furnace. Carbon monoxide is sometimes referred to as the silent killer and yet detectors are incredibly easy to install. Compared to death (always a bummer), detectors offer good value for money.
The other sleeping giant to be on the lookout for is radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas formed by the radioactive decay. Radon can lead to serious lung damage and is another known carcinogen.
Testing for radon is relatively easy and inexpensive. If a problem is detected, then installing a vent in the basement is usually the way to go. During the construction stage, a plastic membrane is sometimes added below the concrete.
Okay, almost there. This is the last one before we start moving forward with a wide range of new and exciting topics.
EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field which is a field of energy created by electrically charged objects. The most common sources for high electromagnetic fields include proximity to power lines, transformers, and appliances. Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Utility companies are now installing “smart” meters across the US which add to the frequency burden.
Wi-Fi and cellular phones release a fair share of dirty energy which has now become an omnipresent part of our lives. I fear the allure of technology is too great for me to overcome in one paragraph. Although I did once hear someone say, “If trees gave off a Wi-Fi signal we would all be out planting them; too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe.”
On the upside, for those of us who are surrounded by Wi-Fi routers from neighbors, it can be a perfect opportunity to say hi to them. Simply name your Wi-Fi network something like, “Mobile Police Surveillance” or “Shut Your Damned Dog Up.”
My personal favorite is “Tell-my-Wi-Fi-Love-Her.” Or if you are feeling particularly fresh, “Tell-Your-Wi-Fi love her”. Lol.
Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by
your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.
– Ancient American Indian Proverb
What did we learn from this?
Toxins are an insidious part of everyday life that can take on many forms. We can influence the companies that make toxic products by buying from their green competitors.
Homework: Install a water filter and then replace all toxic cleaning substances with greener ones.
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