Toxic Free Home
Toxic Free Home
don't miss out on THE chance to help your family thrive!
Hello Toxic Free Home
Say Hello to a Toxic Free Home in October!
If you’ve been following along this year, then you know we spend a lot of time exposing the hidden artificial ingredients in your food. We applaud you for paying attention to the food and ingredients that you DO and DON’T choose to put in your body.
Your kids and loved ones are lucky to have a caregiver that understands the positive health effects that come with eating nutrient dense foods and the negative health effects that come when you regularly consume artificial ingredients, fake flavors, seed oils and other chemicals.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop with food.
First, lots of supplements, vitamins, medicines, and other things we ingest contain hidden artificial ingredients too.
We should also consider the ingredients in anything we put in our bodies like tampons and toothpaste as well as the products we use ON our bodies. Our skin is our biggest organ, so we should also consider the ingredients in sunscreen, shampoos, lotions, and more.
Finally, let’s get more broad by looking at things we breathe in our home. This includes our laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, candles, and even plastic containers and cookware.
This month we are saying #HelloToxicFreeHome as we dive into the world of chemicals, additives, and other hidden ingredients that are in the products we use daily in our homes. Sadly, like food, we may not be aware of many of these at first, but we’re here to help break down some of these ingredients.
For example, do you burn candles in your home? Or do you wear perfume? Did you know that those artificial scents can be causing your regular, pesky headaches? According to the National Institute of Health and the National Library of Medicine, 34.7% of people will suffer headaches or more severe migraines (and other upper respiratory issues etc) when exposed to strong fragrances.
How about your laundry detergent? Many common detergents contain harmful chemical irritants like potassium hydroxide phosphates and may be responsible for watery eyes and skin rashes. Worse, studies show that many laundry brands contain carcinogens. These harmful chemicals can penetrate into the soft tissues and skin to cause rashes along with some serious damage. Is your baby waking up to rashes on their cheeks? Don’t rule out the laundry detergent? Personally, my eyes start to water when I use a pillowcase that has been washed with conventional detergent.
Does this sound a bit overwhelming? Don’t let it be! like food, it is simply about reading ingredients and finding brands we trust. As always, knowledge is power! But also be kind to yourself and approach these changes as small baby steps. It’s virtually impossible to go completely toxic free in our world, but through small changes over time, we can start to make a difference.
What dangerous chemicals are we exposed to on a daily basis at home?
According to the EPA, of the more than 40,000 chemicals used in consumer products in the US, less than 1% have been rigorously tested for human safety. Leo Trasande, an expert in children’s environmental health and the author of Sicker, Fatter, Poorer, says, “Consumers can’t know about all of these chemicals but it is good to be aware of five groups of synthetic chemicals:
Pesticides are any chemical substance used to regulate, prevent, or destroy plants or pests, usually insects, rodents or micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi.
Pesticides have been linked to a very long list of serious health issues, such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, asthma and macular degeneration.
It is estimated that up to 70% of produce sold in the US contain pesticide residue.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals most commonly used to make plastic more flexible and harder to break. They also can act as a solvent or binding agent. Phthalates were first introduced in the 1920s as an additive in some health care products such as insect repellent. Now, they are commonly found in many cosmetics and personal care products such as shampoo, perfume, nail polish, pads, tampons, wall paper, blinds, raincoats, shower curtains, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, detergents and more!
Studies have linked phthalates to reproductive and genital defects, lower sperm count, disrupted hormones and infertility in numerous studies on animals.
Flame retardants are chemicals used to stop the spread of fire in a wide range of common household items and other products. Some of the most common types of flame retardants include: brominated flame retardants, OFRs, TBBPA, HBCD and OPFRs. Side note: Brominated flame retardants and PCBs were banned by the EPA in 1979.
Flame retardants are commonly found in foams in furniture, curtains, carpets, insulation, food packaging, paints, toys, car seats, baby products, surfboards and more.
Studies have found that exposure to flame retardants can affect the nervous and reproductive systems and more. Other studies have found that HBCD, a type of flame retardant, can have potential effects on liver and thyroid function, as well as the endocrine system and cancer.
Unfortunately, children are most at risk because their brains and bodies are still developing, yet they are the ones closest to the carpets, baby toys, and clothes.
Bisphenols are a group of chemicals that are used to produce plastics and epoxy resins. They are one of the most used “building blocks” of plastic today. Unfortunately, many plastic products marketed as BPA-free contain similar replacement chemicals. Bisphenols have been around since the 1960s and are commonly found in food and beverage can liners, receipt paper, food packaging, DVDs and CDs, medical equipment, water bottles, and many toys.
BPAs are thought to be an endocrine disruptor. In animal studies, it is shown to be a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxin. Sadly, many people question its potential health impact on children’s health and the overall environment.
BPA is mainly absorbed into the body through drink and food. For this reason, it is very important to choose BPA-free water bottles, reduce intake of canned food and avoid plastics as much as possible. For example, store your leftovers in glass instead of plastic containers.
PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They consist of at least 4,700 different synthetic chemicals. These chemicals are used to make surfaces resistant to stains, water and grease. These chemicals are also to make Teflon non-stick pans and scotchgard water repellent. They are also used in waterproof clothing, rubber, plastic, carpets, food packaging take-out containers, and even in some dental flosses.
PFAS are found in 98% of Americans, according to the CDC. They are also found in drinking water and even ocean waters.
Growing data links PFAS to many negative health conditions including: cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, imparied fertility, immune system disruption, high cholesterol and more. The EPA and International Agency for Cancer Research have labeled PFAS as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
What are the top toxic chemicals that are in our house?
New furniture is always fun, but did you know that it can contain traces of formaldehyde in the wood, particle board and glue? A small amount may not cause harm, with the exception of irradiation to eyes, skin, nose and throat, but high exposure over a long period of time has been linked to throat and nose cancer.
A clean house is always a plus, but many of the cleaning products today contain toxic chemicals that may be linked to fertility problems and birth defects. That is because many cleaning supplies that we wipe all over our floors, counters, bath tubs, showers and kitchen sinks contain 2-butoxyethanol. It’s a colorless liquid solvent that is found in many common brands of all-purpose cleaners. Prolonged exposure has been known to cause irritation in the nose and vomiting.
Do you sometimes wear your shoes in the house? If so, you may be tracking pesticides, even if you don’t use it on your own lawn. Think about your baby crawling on the ground and then putting their fingers in their mouths. We believe that kids should be playing in the dirt, but pesticides, often sprayed on lawns, school yards and gardens are linked to headaches, muscle twitching and even difficulty breathing. Glyphosate, the most common lawn and garden pesticide, has a possible link to cancer.
Have you ever used powered cleaners on really tough spots in your showers and sinks? Unfortunately these contain some of the harshest chemicals, including benzene, which in long term exposure has been linked to harmful effects on bone marrow and even a decrease in red blood cell counts.
Do you get your clothes dry cleaned from time to time? Just be careful. Many dry cleaned clothes contain VOCs. This stands for volatile organic compounds and according to the EPA, some of the health impacts include eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as headaches and dizziness.
Here’s a scary one: Lead in children’s toys! Yikes. There has been some work done by our government to make sure children’s toys are safe; however, there is still a risk that your children’s toys still may have lead, especially if they’re plastic toys from China. Playing with toys that contain lead can increase the risk of lead poisoning, which can cause developmental delays in children. It is also linked to weight loss, learning difficulties, behavior problems and nausea.
How about the good ole’ shower curtain? They definitely are helpful but are they also harmful? Many shower curtains contain a chemical called polyvinyl chloride. In highly concentrated amounts, polyvinyl chloride can irritate the respiratory system and cause dizziness and drowsiness. In fact, the EPA has even labeled it as a Group A human carcinogen.
Do you paint your nails? How about your kids’ nails? If so, beware of the toxins found in nail polish and nail polish remover. The active ingredient in nail polish remover is VOC acetone. These chemicals evaporate easily. Another example is gasoline. Repeated exposure can cause a variety of health effects, including headaches, loss of coordination, nausea and liver damage, kidney damage and CNS damage.
Finally, this one bears mentioning again! Beware of plastic bottles and cans. Nowadays many bottles are “BPA free”. This is a good thing, as bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that can potentially cause increased blood pressure in adults and may have effects on the brains of fetuses, infants, and children. It’s best to use a plastic free water bottle instead and minimize the amount of things you eat from a can.
Now take a deep breath. You don’t have to go and throw out everything in your house
but understanding the amount of toxic chemicals that we encounter on a daily basis is the first step to making small changes to reduce the toxins that you and your kiddos are exposed to.
Let's talk a bit more about VOCs
Often, people overlook their own homes as culprits for toxic chemicals. In fact, the air quality inside our homes is often very poor and worse than we encounter outdoors. Some of the most common pollutants found in the home are volatile organic compounds (VOCs.)
According to the EPA, VOCs are compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. Many are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. They are emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids and in high concentrations, VOCs can be dangerous to human health when they enter the lung or touch the skin. They are linked to some major short and long term adverse health consequences.
VOCs are found in common household items like mothballs, nail polish remover, paint, carpeting, aerosol sprays, scented candles, cigarettes, cleaning products, and more.
A great way to reduce the amount of VOCs in your inside air is to open the windows when you can. Keep the temperature and humidity down. Store chemicals in the garage, and look for low VOC options for paint and furniture.
Wow, this is overwhelming!!
It is impossible to go completely toxic free unless you choose to live in a vacuum sealed home in the middle of nowhere. Instead, take baby steps. The first step is acknowledging and building awareness of these toxins that we encounter on a daily basis. The second is by making simple swaps over time. Swapping out our deodorant, household cleaners, laundry detergent and cookware is a HUGE step. That alone is incredible.
You can decide what swaps make sense for your home and budget. And remember, EVERY little thing counts.
Easy changes to work towards a toxic-free home.
Buy organic produce and food when possible.
Wash and scrub ALL produce.
Avoid plastic food containers and use glass instead.
Avoid products that have “fragrance” or phthalates listed.
Avoid buying furniture and baby products filled with polyurethane foam.
Keep dust levels down by wet-mopping.
Open the windows when you can.
Read ingredients on all household products and personal care products. Make easy swaps when you can.