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The amount of highly toxic chemicals with which our society is saturated is almost inconceivable.

It’s hard to understand why we would actively choose to pump our environment full of health-destroying poisons. And ignorance can no longer be blamed—the writing is on the wall.

But, since this is the kind of world in which we live, our only choice is to educate ourselves, to leverage this knowledge so that we can live healthy lives, and to spread the word—so that we can begin to change the way things are done.

The following list outlines seven of the most noxious and ubiquitous endocrine disruptors in industrial society, as well as ways to avoid them.

As you’ll see, hormone issues are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, these chemicals are linked in some way to nearly every major health problem our society faces—so you would do well to heed the suggestions that are provided.

Glycol ethers are present in many paints, cleaning products, brake fluid and other car parts, and even cosmetics. Studies have linked them in a wide array of health issues, including infertility, birth defects, various cancers, blood abnormalities, lowered sperm count, asthma, and allergies.

Always do your homework and read labels before purchasing cleaning products and cosmetics. Some “green products” actually still contain toxic substances, despite their convincing labels.

To play it safe, learn to make your own non-toxic cleaning products. It’s way easier than you think!

Organophosphate pesticides are some of the most common pesticides in use today. Many studies have demonstrated that they adversely affect brain function, fertility, testerone levels, and thyroid function. This should come as no big surprise, given that they were originally developed for use by the Nazis as neurotoxic chemical warfare agents.

That’s right: we use chemical warfare agents on our conventional crops. Don’t believe the claims that these chemicals affect the nervous systems of insects but not those of humans.

Instead, just be sure to buy organic, non-GMO produce, or grow your own if possible!

Atrazine is another widely used chemical in industrial agriculture (it’s used as an herbicide on corn crops). Its effects on hormones are so detrimental that it can turn male frogs into egg-producing females! And here’s the worst part: it’s a pervasive drinking water contaminant, and therefore quite difficult to avoid (unless you take the proper precautions).

First and foremost, get yourself a high-quality water filter that certifiably removes atrazine. And don’t think you’re safe with bottled water: some brands contain atrazine and other pollutants.

Steer clear of conventional corn (even some organic corn is treated with herbicide, so be careful). Remember that even organic corn can contain mycotoxins, so make sure you know your source (or just limit your consumption of corn).

Dioxin is a poisonous industrial byproduct that’s gotten a lot more press, so you may have heard of it. There’s plenty of propaganda out there that’s designed to downplay its toxicity, though, so you may not be as familiar with its negative effects: decreased sperm count and sperm quality, infertility, severe immune suppression (with the potential for auto-immune disease), and cancer.

Dioxin sticks around and accumulates in the body for a very long time, so it’s best to avoid it to begin with. While it’s very difficult to remove completely from your life, eating fewer animal products will help considerably (because meat, fish, eggs, and butter are most likely to be contaminated).

And because you may already have an accumulation of dioxin in your body, consider practicing a detoxification regimen on a regular basis.

Flame retardants contain nasty chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s), which adversely affect hormonal and cognitive function. And they seem to have contaminated pretty much the entire planet—one study even found significant levels of the chemical in women’s breast milk.

The use of some PBDE’s has been discontinued, but they’ll continue to persist in the environment for decades (and thus continue to contaminate animals and people). Furthermore, equally toxic flame retardants are still used in couches, bedding, mattresses, draperies, carpets, and other seemingly harmless household items and furniture.

Consider replacing your toxic furniture, and at the very least, install a HEPA air filter in your house.  

Phthalates cause adverse hormonal changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects, and premature cell death (especially in testicular cells). And if that’s not bad enough, they’ve also been linked to diabetes, obesity, and thyroid dysfunction.

Here’s the first rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding pthalates: try to stay away from plastic. Food containers, children’s toys, and plastic wrap with a #3 recycling label are all offenders.   

Many plastic products claim to be safe, but remember that it’s always a good idea to avoid plastics whenever possible. Even if something is labeled as “BPA-free” or “phthalate-free,” it still could contain all sorts of nasty chemicals that manufacturers are not yet required to tell you about (or that we haven’t yet learned are dangerous). Better safe than sorry!

Some shampoos, conditioners, and other personal care products also contain pthalates (adding them to products that contact the skin seems to be the height of stupidity, but go figure). Avoid any products that list them as an ingredient, and any products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient, as they’re usually just trying to hide pthalate content.

Perchlorate is a rocket fuel additive that also just happens to be in most of our milk and produce, according to collected data from the Environmental Working Group.

In case you still need to be convinced of its toxicity after hearing that it’s a component of rocket fuel, here it goes: perchlorate disallows proper absorption of iodine by competing with it. Iodine defeciency leads to thyroid dysfunction, which is linked to staggering number of diseases and health conditions.

Because many people are already defecient in iodine, the presence of this toxin in our environment makes it even more important to supplement with iodine (sea kelp is one of the best sources).

Using a high-quality water filter will help remove perchlorate, so that your body can more easily assimilate the iodine with which you provide it.

In the liver, glutathione binds to toxins before they’re excreted, which is an important step in getting them out of your body

Glutathione and Detoxification

Glutathione is critical for detoxification in the liver (you know, the thing that actually helps you detoxify, unlike weird footpads and lemon juice cleanses). In the liver, glutathione binds to toxins before they’re excreted, which is an important step in getting them out of your body.

In fact, the detox power of glutathione is so powerful that it’s used for people who overdose on Tylenol (acetaminophen) and have to go to the hospital to detox. In that case, the person gets an IV with another amino acid that helps their body make glutathione, called N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). The NAC increases their body’s production of glutathione, which helps their liver get rid of the acetaminophen.

Glutathione is also be very important for helping your body get rid of toxins in your food and environment. For example, one study found that in people who eat a lot of fish, the total amount of mercury the people retained in their bodies was related to genes regulating glutathione synthesis. The more glutathione people made, the less mercury they retained.

>>>Korfactor Liposomal Glutathione is the most absorbable and highest quality that we have found.


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It’s been a little while since we wrote about the toxins of modern living. Meanwhile, the world certainly isn’t getting any less toxic—our homes and belongings, the air we breathe, and the products we buy still pose potential risks to our health and well-being.

In past articles, we’ve outlined the dangerous toxins in a wide variety of everyday products, including clothing, cookware, cosmetics, deodorants, moisturizers, furniture, cleaning products, toothpaste, and more.   We’ve warned you about endocrine disruptors, toxic plastics and microbeads, and the tens of thousands of other toxic industrial chemicals with which modern life is saturated.

Let’s review some of the worst offenders (and how to avoid them). Thank you to Parasol for providing this excellent infographic!

Pesticides. We’ve written about the horrors of pesticides before. A staggering portion of the planet is now contaminated with glyphosate-containing pesticides like RoundUp, neonicotinoids, and other chemical concoctions that wreak havoc on the health of both the human body and the environment.[1]

Despite manufacturer assurances that there’s nothing harmful about pesticides, mounting evidence links pesticide contamination with cancer and a variety of other health problems, as well as collapsing bee colony populations.[2]

Pesticides are so prevalent that it can be difficult to avoid them—but you can minimize your exposure by always eating organic (you should especially avoid the “Dirty Dozen,” which are known to be the most highly pesticide-contaminated produce).  

Conventional cotton. Unfortunately, it’s not just food you need to be worried about when it comes to pesticide contamination. Cotton is one of the most pesticide-contaminated crops in the world—this means that these toxins end up in clothing made from conventional cotton, and are readily absorbed through the skin. And to make matters worse, some clothing has even been found to contain chlorine bleach, formaldehyde (that’s right, carcinogenic embalming fluid), and toxic plastics like perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).[3]

Once again, you can easily protect yourself by choosing clothing made with organic cotton and natural materials such as hemp, bamboo, cork, and wool. Also, avoid “wrinkle-free” clothing like the plague, as it’s been shown to contain even higher levels of toxic PFCs and formaldehyde.

Diapers and toxic toys. It’s especially tragic that even baby-care products can be terribly toxic (and babies are more developmentally sensitive to toxin exposure than adults, so it’s imperative that you take steps to keeps industrial toxins away from your children).

Conventional disposable diapers contain irritating, toxic dyes, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as xylene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and dipentene. These chemicals not only cause painful diaper rashes for your baby, but are also linked with cancer, developmental issues, and other worrying health problems.[4] Similarly, many cheaply made children’s toys contain brominated flame retardants (BFRs), arsenic, and other heavy-duty toxins that are bioaccumulative (which means they cumulatively build up in bone and tissue and cause various long-term health issues).

Luckily, there are plenty of conscious companies that now offer both reusable and disposable diapers made from safe and organic materials, as well as non-toxic toys.

Cleaning products. The vast majority of cleaning products are anything but clean—they’re filled with a vast array of corrosive and health-sapping chemicals. And in the vast majority of cases, these powerful toxins are not even necessary for keeping your house clean; there are plenty of food-safe materials that work just as well, such as vinegar, orange oil, and baking soda.

Check out this article for tips on making your own safe and effective cleaning products from common household ingredients. It’s way easier than you might think, but even if you’re not the DIY type, there are plenty of safe and eco-friendly cleaning products available for purchase (just make sure you check the ingredients before buying anything).

 Beauty care products. The proliferation of toxic chemicals in nearly all beauty care products is a huge problem. Toxins are easily absorbed through the skin each and every time we use such products—yet because toxic bioaccumulation only causes health problems after a long period of time, manufacturers continue to get away with denying the dangers of their products.

Conventional make-up, shampoos and conditioners, moisturizers, lipstick, deodorants, and nearly every other common hygiene and beauty product are contaminated to some degree, so take great care in choosing which ones to purchase. You can even make your own beauty care products, cheaply and easily. In this article, we explain how you can replace a sizable portion of your beauty product repertoire with nothing but coconut oil.

Why it’s worth it to stay vigilant

It may seem overwhelming to have to think about all of these potential toxin sources—but it’s well worth the effort. The toxins in these products slowly (or not so slowly) undermine your health; the constant process of fending off toxins makes it dramatically more difficult for your body to resist disease and imbalance.

But by making a simple shift toward conscious, organic, chemical-free product brands (and by making your own self-care and home-care products whenever possible), you can give your body the helping hand it needs to stay strong, vibrant, and toxin-free.

 


References

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273122396007378

[2] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6345/1393

[3] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151023084508.htm

[4] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/3/e450.full?sid=a13491bc-4318-4181-940b-d3d406ec7427

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Infographic source

mold

We’ve written in the past about the manmade toxins that litter our homes: toxic furniture, bedding, clothing, cleaning products, and more. Environmental air pollution gets a lot of attention, but according to the EPA, the air inside our homes is two to five times more polluted on average—and in some cases up to 100 times more polluted. [1]

Toxic home syndrome is worth worrying about—especially given that we spend as much as 90% of our time indoors. Indoor pollution has been correlated with a rise in the incidence of many diseases, including cancer, autism, and many other degenerative conditions caused by an increased toxin load. [2]

A lot of this pollution comes from the sources mentioned above, but some household toxins are naturally occurring…and potentially just as dangerous as the industrial poisons with which our bodies have to content. One prominent example is mold.

What you must know about mold

Mold has been on this planet for a lot longer than we have, and it’s not going anywhere. It’s a highly evolved, highly adaptable fungal organism that makes up 25% of the Earth’s biomass—so it’s safe to say that mold is a fact of life.

This is not to say that mold should be viewed lightly, though. It can grow very quickly on almost any surface, provided that there’s enough moisture to support it. This means that bathrooms, kitchens, areas with leaky pipes, or areas prone to flooding are at highest risk. Once mold colonies grow to a critical mass, their spores become airborne, and they can travel throughout your entire home.

And all molds that produce mycotoxins, when present in high enough quantities, can be harmful to your health (with “black mold” being the worst of all). The effects of mold exposure are most often referred to as “allergic reactions,” but the truth is that it’s a slippery slope from mold allergies to mold illness (especially if mold is proliferating in unseen places around your home, like behind drywall or in small bathroom nooks).

Mold exposure can cause a wide range of symptoms, including irritation of the eyes, ears, nose, and throat, dermatitis, rashes, and other skin issues, asthma and other respiratory issues, fever, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and diarrhea.

Mold can radically suppress immune function (especially in people who already have a compromised immune system), and can even cause flu-like symptoms and liver damage. Animal studies suggest that excessive mold exposure can lead to kidney damage, infertility and other reproductive issues, and neurotoxicity. One human study even strongly linked household mold exposure to depression. [3]

Check out this video from the National Mold Resource Center to see if you have any symptoms of mold sickness:

Take action to protect yourself

While molds can be incredibly virulent and persistent, you don’t have to feel powerless against them. Small mold colonies are common, and usually pose relatively little risk to your health, so don’t feel like the sight of any mold whatsoever is cause for panic.

Also, because most of the ill effects of mold exposure come from mycotoxicity-induced immune dysfunction, you can protect yourself by boosting your immune system. Turmeric, vitamin C, vitamin D, and adaptogenic herbs are always a good choice. Low oral doses of activated charcoal or healing clays (like bentonite and zeolite) are also great for cleansing your body of mycotoxins.

Keep Your Home “Mold-Free”

If your home appears mold-free (or contains only small visible colonies), great! You can keep it that way by cleaning up spills or flooded areas immediately, fixing water leaks within 1-2 days, keeping your house well-ventilated (especially the bathroom and kitchen), and scrubbing away mold as soon as it appears.

If you become aware of large mold colonies in your home, though, taking supplements is not going to cut it. Mold infestations need to be dealt with swiftly and properly. There are home test kits available which measure the level of mold spores in the air, but they’re often quite inaccurate. If you can see any decent quantity of mold in your home, don’t wait to test…start removing it immediately!

Scrub off any visible mold with baking soda, distilled water, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and borax, and be sure to wear gloves and a protecting mask during clean-up. Avoid using toxic homecare products—the point is to remove toxins from your home, right?

Keep in mind that mold colonies can form well out of sight (if you have any of the symptoms listed above, and can’t link them to other causes, you might be suffering from mold exposure). Full mold remediation often requires the removal and replacement and walls, ceilings, and carpets. Unfortunately, these processes can be quite costly, but they’re well worth it.

If you’re a renter, talk to your landlord about any mold in your home. Only some states hold homeowners liable for mold remediation, but many landlords are willing to take care of the issue in order to preserve the future integrity of the house. If your landlord is not willing to take action, and you’re unable to afford the mold cleanup, you should strongly consider moving into a mold-free home.

By being aware of mold (and other toxins) in your home, and being willing to take action, you can ensure that your home remains a health-promoting oasis in an otherwise polluted world.

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References

[1] http://draxe.com/indoor-air-pollution-worse-than-outdoor/

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070829162815.htm

wash-new-clothes

If you’ve read some of our past articles, you know that daily life in our world can be a gauntlet of toxin sources—and that some of them are sneakier than others.

By now, you’ve probably educated yourself about the dangers of conventional produce, meat, dairy products, and processed foods. You probably know about water contaminants, environmental pollution, radiation, and even the toxin sources that are lurking in your own home.

Being savvy about the toxicities of the modern world can help you improve your health and longevity dramatically, but it can also leave you wondering whether there’s any safe haven.

But have you considered your newly purchased clothing?

They can’t possibly pose any dangers to your health, right? Especially brand new clothes, with their pristine appearance and packaging.

Sadly, independent testing has revealed that this belief is an illusion.

Chemical-laden clothing

Some clothing is toxic before it’s even made. This is because 85% of men’s clothing and 60% of women’s clothing contains cotton,[1] which also happens to be the world’s “dirtiest” crop. Conventionally produced cotton is grown with heinously toxic insecticides like aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, which often remain in cotton clothing and can seep into the skin.

Aldicarb in particular is so toxic that a single drop absorbed through the skin can kill you—and yet it’s still used to grow the very material out of which most of your clothing is made.[2]

And the contamination doesn’t stop there. Conventional cotton producers use poisonous herbicides to defoliate their plants, and then subject the plant material to a staggering array of chemicals in order to whip it into saleable shape.

They bleach it, dye the fabric with toxic azo-aniline coloring agents, stain-proof it with perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs (yes, the same ones that are in famously toxic non-stick cookware), fire-proof it with the same poisons that are probably making your living room toxic, wrinkle-proof it with formaldehyde, and even throw in nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) and many other chemicals that are known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors to complete their product.

Conventional clothing manfucturers even treat their products with triclosan, an antimicrobial agent strongly linked to infertility and other reproductive issues, altered hormone regulation, increased cancer risk, and antibiotic resistance.[3]

But at least our clothing is nice and sterile, right?

Wrong.

You’d think that with all those chemicals ingrained into conventionally produced clothing, no pathogens or other microbes could possible survive—but nothing could be further from the truth.

Philip Tierno, Ph.D., Director of Microbiology and Immunology at New York University, ran tests on clothing purchased from chain stores across the country. What he found was rather shocking: feces, respiratory secretions, skin flora, vaginal yeast—essentially the full gamut of microbes that could end up on clothing that’s been tried on by many people before being purchased.

He found plenty of germs too, including hepatitis A, MRSA, salmonella, norovirus, streptococcus…even lice and scabies.[4] While he admits that most people with a moderately healthy immune system would be able to avoid being adversely affected by any of these contaminants, he still advised being cautious with newly purchased clothing.

After all, your body has plenty of other toxin sources and pathogens to worry about —make things easier on yourself by doing everything you can to ensure that your clothing isn’t a hazard to your health.

Don’t be afraid of your clothes…just take precautions

First and foremost, it’s incredibly important that you seek out organic cotton clothing (or clothing made from other organic, health-conscious, and eco-friendly fabrics, like hemp and bamboo).

Organic cotton avoids all the pesticide and herbicide problems discussed above, and most products that fall under this label should be free from other manufacturing chemicals too.

The only way to be sure that your clothing was manufactured without all those chemicals, though, is to look for the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label (in addition to that which certifies that it’s made with organic cotton or a similar material).

Smaller, boutique clothing companies (as opposed to the huge manufacturers that supply chain superstores) are much less likely to soak their products in endocrine disruptors and other noxious chemicals.

Regardless of where you buy your clothes, though, always wash them at least once, if not twice, before wearing them. If they’re not machine-washable, have them dry-cleaned, or put them through a hot dryer cycle.

By following these simple practices, you can minimize the health risks from one of the most fundamental aspects of your life. Eat cleanly, drink purified water (not bottled water), and de-toxify your home, and you can rest assured that you’re getting all your basic needs met in a toxin-free manner.

 


References

[1] http://www.cottoninc.com/fiber/quality/Fiber-Management/Fiber-Management-Update/05-Sept-2011/

[2] http://www.ota.com/

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16922622

[4] http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/gma-found-clothes-clean/story?id=9482373

Image source

 

Toxic-Home

Last week we went to look at some homes for sale in our neighborhood.  We walked into one home where I immediately felt I could not breathe.  The air was full of odors from “perfumed” air fresheners and odor eliminators.  After 5 minutes in this house I had to leave… I developed a severe headache and felt I was being asphyxiated.

It occurred to me how many people are using these kinds of products in their homes, with NO idea of how toxic they are!!

People are not aware that in their own homes, they are living among toxins on a daily basis.

Many of the seemingly innocent household necessities are actually potent toxin sources: our appliances, furniture, building materials, cleaning products, cosmetics, and more are all suspect.

Combined with naturally existing toxins (such as mold, fungi, pollen, and dander), all of these offenders can transform your home into a health-sapping minefield. And these nasty toxins can have staggering effects on your health, ranging from suppressed immune function (which leads to more frequent illness) to asthma, heart disease, and cancer.

This phenomenon is so prevalent that there’s actually an official name for it: toxic home syndrome. One researcher says that it “occurs when individuals and families are exposed to a potent mix of airborne pollutants within the home arising from poor ventilation, causing respiratory and skin diseases to occur more frequently.”[1] It’s estimated that tens of millions of homes are victims of it (and that’s almost certainly a conservative estimate).

The home has long been the ultimate symbol of security, a safe and sacred space protected from the chaos of the outside world. But an increasing number of scientists are starting to agree that toxic home syndrome is real.

As crazy as it sounds, mundane tasks like cooking, doing laundry, watching TV, or sleeping in your bed may be dramatically increasing your risk of serious illness and decreasing your life expectancy. In fact, one study conducted in Europe estimated that household pollution could be linked to an annual loss of more than two million healthy life years in the European Union alone.

However, by learning about the most dangerous household toxin sources, you can give your home a detoxifying makeover, so you can rest assured that it’s a safe and healthy place.

The hidden killers unveiled

Research has revealed a startling fact: the air inside an average home contains more than 900 chemicals, the vast majority of which can have deleterious effects on your health.

Here’s some of the most worrisome toxin sources that add to this chemical soup…

Mold proliferation. Mold spores thrive in damp, stagnant places. If allowed to flourish, mold in your home can become a massive impediment to your health. Be especially protective of your bathroom and other areas where moisture often collects. Use mold-resistant shower curtains (and replace them often). Conduct routine mold inspections; check under shower moldings, under the sink, and other tucked away areas, and replace any areas of the room that have been mold-infested. Prevent further mold growth by assuring good ventilation.

Natural allergens. Like mold spores, natural allergens like pollen and dander are bound to make their way into your home. The key is to minimize their effects upon your health by properly ventilating your home, minimizing your use of carpets and rugs (which are a perfect habitat for allergens), and cleaning regularly (make sure you really ventilate the house whenever cleaning, or you’ll just stir up all the toxins rather than eradicating them).

Poisonous gases. A surprising number of noxious gases can get trapped in poorly ventilated homes. Some of them are natural, like radon, which is highly radioactive; it’s released from the Earth’s soil and seeps into your house and even into your water supply. Others are a product of household items, building materials, and everyday processes, like carbon monoxide (which is released through cooking, heating, smoking, incense and candle burning, and every other kind of combustion). Paint, building materials, and furniture materials also often “off-gas” all sorts of toxic chemicals, including lead, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and acrolein. If at all possible, replace lead-based paint with certified lead-free paint, purchase furniture that hasn’t been treated with flame retardants, and replace outdated (and most likely toxic) building materials with green materials.

Toxic household products. Industrial products are riddled with toxins of all sorts. I’ve written in detail about many of these toxin sources here, here, and here—bedding, cleaning products, dryer sheets, wrinkle-free shirts, and everything in between all contain volatile organic compound.

While outfitting your entire house with toxin-free products can be a huge task, doing so can also be immensely beneficial to your health—so take it one step at a time. Don’t try to take shortcuts, but just replace all these unhealthful household items at whatever pace works for you.

And speaking of short cuts…   

Air fresheners are not the answer

As awareness around the importance of good house air quality has increased, so has the demand for effective air freshening methods.

While the right air filtration system can be incredibly helpful, it’s very important to acknowledge that the same cannot be said for chemical air fresheners—they are a huge part of the problem, not a solution to it. In fact, they’re arguably one of the worst offenders of all in the “toxic household products” category.

Air freshener products like Febreze and Glade are packed with health-disrupting chemicals that, according to the Environmental Working Group, can cause asthma and other respiratory issues, skin problems, reproductive dysfunction, immune suppression, and cancer. And on top of all that…they’re terrible for the environment.[2]

Febreze is classified as an air freshner, created by Proctor & Gamble. It reports to work by “trapping” odor molecules in a donut-shaped chemical.

The first thing that is really important to understand: the product does not remove odor molecules and it doesn’t clean the item it comes into contact with.

The odor molecules are still there. Your nose just can’t perceive them because you smell the chemical product instead.

That alone should be your first warning. We know inhalation of any chemicals is dangerous, and several of its ingredients listed below are known to irritate the lungs…but this is a chemical whose entire purpose is to be inhaled!

Unfortunately there is not much data being shared on Febreze and their many products, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) did conduct a test for the ingredients of one of their products, Febreze Air Effects.

Shockingly, P&G only disclosed THREE ingredients in this product, but the EWG…they found 87 chemicals in total!

For lots of tips on how to clean and freshen your home in a safe, sustainable, and healthy way, see my article on green cleaning products, as well as the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Make home healthy

It may be some time before our society mends its toxic ways. In the meantime, though, you can at least turn your home into a healthy island in a sea of environmental toxins.

By making smart product choices, ensuring proper ventilation, and cleaning regularly, you can ensure that your home remains a safe and health-supporting haven, despite the constant assault of toxins that you may have to bear outside its protective walls.

 


References

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2920391/How-AIR-house-making-ill-drying-washing-using-gas-cooker-15-million-homes-affected-Toxic-Home-Syndrome-increases-risk-heart-disease-cancer.html

[2] http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/1659-FebrezeFabricRefresher

Image source

sneaky_toxin_sources

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world free of manmade toxins? A world in which clean water, pure air, and optimal health is more important than profit margins and short-term schemes?

A world in which everyone holds themselves to the same high standard of accountability? A world in which you can trust that you’re not constantly surrounded by hidden sources of toxins?  

I’d like to think we’re on our way there. Unfortunately, though, that’s just not the way things are at present.

Staying healthy is a full-time job these days—mostly because we always have to be on the lookout for unwitting toxin sources.

Personal care, diet, and fitness obviously play an essential role, but even if you’re playing all your cards right, your health can still suffer considerably because of environmental toxins.

Below, you’ll find a list of unexpected toxin sources to avoid at all costs.

Don’t be overwhelmed; just take action, one step at a time. Start by removing just one toxin source from your life, and build up from there. This process should be empowering, not paranoia-inducing.

Let’s start with the basics…

Processed foods. It’s hard to take three steps in a grocery store without bumping into processed foods. Any product that is even a single step removed from its natural form should be considered processed.

Processed foods are designed to be overstimulating and addictive.[1] Creating such “designer junk foods” destroys nearly all the nutrients its ingredients may have contained. Synthetic vitamins and nutrients are sometimes added after the fact, but these are a poor replacement at best, and toxic at worst.

And to top things off, processed foods are filled with destructive substances like high-fructose corn syrup,[2] preservatives, colorants, artificial flavors, and texturants.

Many chemicals like this that have been deemed “safe” by the FDA in the past were later found to have deleterious effects on the body. The FDA will only ever investigate chemicals that they believe pose a serious danger—so just know that you’re rolling the dice by consuming any of them.

Non-organic produce. Organic products have been all the rage for years now, but because of the high price that they command, it can be tempting to justify the purchase of more affordable, non-organic food.

How bad could it possibly be?

Pretty bad, unfortunately.

Evidence is mounting that the pesticides and other various chemicals that are sprayed on conventional produce are adversely toxic. A widely published study claiming that there is little difference in the healthfulness and safety of organic and non-organic produce is now being harshly criticized and overturned.[3]

And don’t think that you can just wash off these noxious chemicals either—many of them are absorbed by the plant’s internal structures. In the case of GMO foods, toxicity is incorporated into the plant at a genetic level.

Unwashed produce. Even some organic produce is contaminated with pesticides and other toxic chemicals, so be sure to wash everything before eating it.

The most effective method is to submerge your produce completely in room temperature water, and then lightly scrub each item.

Avoiding dietary toxins

This probably isn’t anything you haven’t heard before.

If you’re already avoiding non-organic and processed food, excellent. Here’s some dietary toxin sources with which you may be less familiar, though…

Mycotoxins in wheat and corn. Here’s a shocking statistic of which very few people are aware: a large percentage of the grains available in the U.S. has been exposed to toxic mold (because it’s nearly always stored in commercial silos for long periods of time).[4]

When wheat and corn is exposed to mold, dangerous byproducts called mycotoxins are developed. Even though cooking will normally destroy any mold that’s present, the mycotoxins will remain intact.

Mycotoxins sap your energy, suppress the immune system, interfere with nutrient absorption, and disrupt metabolic and hormonal functioning in the body.[5]

While reducing (or even eliminating) your consumption of wheat and corn can be a difficult task, it’s really the only surefire way to protect yourself from mycotoxins.

And in case you still need some convincing, there’s a whole host of other reasons why you should banish wheat from your diet.

Damaged fats. Fats have gotten a bad rap in the past. Recent dietary fads (like the Paleo Diet) are starting to get the right idea, though—that the right kind of fat is incredibly healthful.

While whole books could be (and have been) written on this subject, here’s the basic gist that you should keep in mind: a fat becomes toxic when it is unstable, and thus becomes damaged and oxidized by the heat of cooking. The fats that are prone to this damage are called unsaturated.

The unsaturated fats that you’ll want to avoid (usually in the form of cooking oils) are as follows: corn oil (which can also contain mycotoxins, as explained above), canola oil, sesame oil, and anything else generically labeled as “vegetable oil.”

Stick with oils that contain lots of saturated fat, like coconut oil, palm oil, butter, and ghee.

Avoiding household toxins

And then there’s the myriad of toxin sources that surround us within our own homes. Here’s some of the biggest offenders, as well as some suggestions for how to neutralize them…

Plasticware. By now, you’re probably aware of the pitfalls of plastic.Even plastic products that are marketed as “non-toxic” are a gamble. Plastic contains many other chemicals besides those that are now considered toxic. Just because a company labels a given chemical as “non-toxic,” it doesn’t mean that future research won’t reveal the contrary.

So play it safe, and use as few plastic products as possible.

If you can’t eliminate plastic entirely, at least minimize your risk by not heating or freezing any plasticware (which accelerates the process of chemical leaching).

Never put plasticware in the dishwasher. Doing so will leach all those nasty chemicals and then redeposit them on all your other dishes!  

Furniture. A staggering percentage of mattresses, couches, and pillows contain flame retardants that have been shown to cause cancer and birth defects.[6]

High levels of these ridiculously toxic chemicals have been detected in people’s blood, which confirms that they easily enter the body when our skin is in contact with these household items, and even when we breathe the dust in our houses.

The process of “detoxifying” your house by replacing all your toxic furniture is certainly a daunting (and expensive) one. Just be aware of these dangers, and take one step at a time to clear your living space.

Start small: at least replace your pillows, then tackle the larger, more expensive pieces of furniture when it’s possible to do so. Isn’t your health worth the time and the cost?

Cleaning supplies. Taking one whiff of most cleaning supplies on the market is enough to confirm that they’re full of toxins. After years of coating our counters and tables, washing our clothes, and “freshening” the air in our house, these toxins accumulate to very dangerous levels.

And don’t believe everything you hear about “green cleaning products” either. Some of the top eco-products on the market still contain chemicals with demonstrable adverse effects.[7]  

Even seemingly inoffensive dryer sheets are bad news. Nearly all of them contain a whole host of terrible chemicals that cause burning skin, respiratory irritation, anxiety attacks, and irritability—like formaldehyde and chloroform, just to name a few that you’ve probably heard of.[8]

So always do your homework before purchasing any cleaning product. Better yet, read this article to learn how to make your own (it’s easy, I promise).

Creating your own sanctuary

Avoiding these toxin sources will have a huge effect on your health.

We may live in a toxin-laden world, but we shouldn’t just sit back and let ourselves be bombarded. Awareness is always the first step. Let the information that’s been presented sink in, and then start to take measures to protect yourself, bit by bit.

 


References  

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22016109

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23594708

[3] http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/120-a458

[4] http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/321551/aer828h_1_.pdf

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12857779

[6] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es303471d

[7] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/simply-green-washing-are-you-using-toxic-cleaner

[8] http://www.lifenatural.com/dangers_of_laundry_dryer_sheets.htm

Image source

green-cleaner

We live in a toxic world.

These days, the game of health is won by gaining an awareness of the toxin sources against which you need to protect yourself.

Some toxin sources are sneakier than others, though.

“Green” cleaning supplies are a prime example. The market is full of “natural,” “non-toxic,” and “eco-friendly” cleaning products that are quite the opposite.

To cite just one example: Simple Green, a well-known and widely used all-purpose cleaner, contains 2-Butoxyethanol—a petrochemical solvent known to be harmful and toxic.[1]

It can’t be underestimated how large of an impact these products have on our health. We use them to clean the dishes we eat off of, the clothing we wear, and the surfaces we touch on a daily basis.

Eliminating these controllable toxin sources within our own home is fundamentally important.

So before buying any cleaning supplies—even those that claim to be non-toxic—make sure that you do your research. There’s a lot of greenwashing going on out there.

There’s only one way to be absolutely sure you’re using non-toxic products…

Make them yourself! Don’t worry: it’s easier than you think.

The following “recipes” all use common household ingredients that are safe, natural, and effective.

All-Purpose Cleaner: Combine 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. Add whatever scent you prefer with a few drops of essential oil. You can also infuse vinegar with citrus by soaking citrus peels for two weeks. Shake up the mixture in a spray bottle, and you’re ready to go. The acidity of vinegar is great at breaking up grease and grime, and the essential oils provide a fresh, clean fragrance without toxic, synthetic chemicals.

Citrus-Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner: Soak citrus peels in vinegar for 2 weeks, and then strain the infusion into a spray bottle. Dilute with 1 part water, and enjoy the rich, chemical-free citrus scent.

Wood Polish: Combine 1 TBSP olive oil, 1 TBSP water, and the juice of 1 lemon. Shake up the mixture, and pour into a cloth for wiping wood. The lemon juice kills mold and bacteria, and the olive oil gives a great, natural shine.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Combine 1 cup white vinegar with ¼ cup baking soda, and let the mixture for 15 minutes. Scrub and flush. The baking soda is not only a great abrasive, but also has a brightening effect.

Grout Cleaner: Combine 1 part baking soda with 1 part water to make an excellent grout cleaner. Just scrub the mixture into grout with a brush. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Fabric Softener: Combine 5 liters of white vinegar with 30-40 drops of your favorite essential oil. Shake the mixture, and add ½ cup during the rinse cycle (for average-sized laundry loads).

Stovetop Cleaner: Combine 1 part olive oil with 2 parts baking soda. The resulting paste works on even the toughest stains (apply and leave overnight if necessary). For an extra finishing touch, wipe away the paste with the Citrus-Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner described above.

Tough Dish Cleaner: Fill the offending dish with 1-2 inches of water, and mix in 1 cup baking soda. Bring the water to a boil for 15 minutes. At this point, a light scrub should be all you need to finish the job.

 


References

[1] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/simply-green-washing-are-you-using-toxic-cleaner

Recipe source

Image source

2

We’re getting smarter about the way that we use plastic…but we still have a long way to go.

There’s nothing like those images of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to put things into perspective. There’s actually two gigantic islands of plastic—one closer to the United States, and one closer to Europe—as well as a proliferation of less concentrated plastic waste scattered throughout nearly every ocean on the planet.

And that’s just the plastic pollution that affects the watery portion of our planet. Land pollution is sometimes a bit harder to spot, because we’ve gotten better at hiding and burying our waste in landfills. Out of sight, out of mind…right?

Awareness of these issues has inspired a recycling revival, as well as many initiatives that call for a drastic reduction in the use of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials.

These measures may have reduced the prevalence of plastic bags in grocery stores, but there’s plenty of other problems that they fail to address. Plastic still rears its ugly head in more insidious, less discernible forms.

One of the most worrying of all is the use of microbeads—microscopic pieces of plastic that are added to over 100 widely distributed health care products, including toothpastes, facial scrubs, and body washes.

These little beads are a huge problem

Corporations like to stay focused on the perceived benefits of these destructive additives (namely their ability to exfoliate the skin and clean tooth plaque). They usually fail to mention that you’re slathering toxic plastic onto your skin and teeth.

Ironically, microbeads don’t even work as well as natural exfoliants like honey, baking soda, papaya, sea salt, and lemon juice. In fact, health care product manufacturers use them because they’re less effective—which ensures that you use more of the product (and thus buy more of it). Plastic is also way cheaper, which ensures even greater profits.

So as usual, it’s all about the money. And also as usual, our environment (and our health) suffers dearly as a result of these unscrupulous practices.

First and foremost, you probably already know that plastic is not something you want to be ingesting or rubbing into your skin and gums. In fact, if companies made it clear that their products contained bits of plastic (rather than veiling this fact behind official-sounding, unpronounceable ingredient names), many people probably wouldn’t use them anymore.

While product manufacturers vehemently deny that the plastics used to make microbeads (such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, and polymethyl methacrylate) are harmful in any way, the jury’s still out. Some studies suggest that they’re potent endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and immunosuppressants.[1]

And the dangers don’t end there. Microbeads are made to wash down the drain easily (because you’d probably stop buying a product if it constantly clogged your drain). Thus, these nasty plastics effortlessly make their way through drainage systems and into the environment. Environmental devastation by design, you could call it.

Because microbeads are nothing if not devastating to the environment. They absorb massive amounts of surrounding toxins, to the point where a single microbead can be a million times more toxic than the surrounding water.[2]

They’re then consumed by marine life, which is detrimentally affected by the toxins they’ve soaked up. And these poisons end up making their way back to us—either through the seafood we eat, or through municipal water supplies (because microbeads are so small that treatment plants usually can’t remove them from the water supply).

Worst of all is that once microbeads make their way into the environment, they’re there to stay. The New York State Attorney General’s Office states that “once discharged, there are no known methods to effectively remove microplastics or microbeads from the environment.”[3]

Our only hope is to keep them out of the environment (and thus our bodies) in the first place. While there’s a growing movement to ban the use of microbeads, it could be a while before companies are forced to play by environmentally sound rules.

But you can make a difference now by boycotting products that use microplastics, and by embracing earth-friendly alternatives.

Use safe, organic products instead

Luckily, there’s no shortage of well-made, environmentally friendly health care products on the market these days. They may more expensive, but using them instead of their toxic, microbead-laden brethren is absolutely essential if we want any chance of preserving the health of our planet and our bodies.

You can also save some money by making your own products at home. You can make an incredible array of self-care and cleaning products with baking soda ), and for every problem-solving industrial chemical, there’s a natural alternative that’s better and safer. For example, coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer, raw honey makes an exemplary facial scrub, and essential oils are far superior to artificial scents.

We’ve been convinced that our hygiene is incomplete without a slew of industrially manufactured products. But the truth is that it doesn’t need to be so complicated, and that Mother Nature offers all the solutions we could ever need.

Using the gifts that she provides (rather than inadvertently pumping the environment full of toxic, manufactured ingredients) will go a long way toward securing our health and well-being—as well as that of the planet we inhabit—for a long time to come.

Image source

[1] http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=24

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/06/microbeads.aspx

[3] http://ag.ny.gov/pdfs/Microbeads_Report_5_14_14.pdf