Your toxic home – what you don’t know can hurt you

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(As her follow up piece to “The Protocols of Tipping; What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Others,” staff writer, Keaven Van Lom, continues to explore themes pertaining to what you don’t know and how it can hurt you.)

Americans are bombarded with advertisements selling products that expertly clean our homes, make our whites whiter, our rooms sparkle, our sheets softer while infusing our world in a spring fresh scent. Our complete acceptance of this marketing has unleashed a dangerous slew of toxic chemicals into our lives, resulting in very serious health and environmental issues.

You have probably heard the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claim that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors but perhaps tossed it off because it seemed odd. How could this be true? Energy efficient homes have reduced the amount of fresh air in while allowing the build up of chemicals emitted from household cleaners, paint, synthetic materials, dry cleaning and furniture. Over a long period of time these chemicals get into the body though absorption, inhalation and ingestion. Think it’s no big deal? Consider this small sampling:

The average home contains 62 toxic chemicals; that’s 62 toxic chemicals!

A popular study showed that women who work at home are at a 54 percent risk of developing cancer verses those working outside the home, suggesting that chronic exposure to cleaning products are a factor.

Cancer is the number one cause of death for children.

One in three people suffer from allergies, asthma, bronchitis or sinusitis.

Corporations create about 1,000 new toxic chemicals per year to add to the 85,000 already on the market for you to purchase, inhale, absorb and ingest via residue.

If you or your loved ones suffer from any of the following, please continue to read this article: reproductive problems, behavioral problems, asthma, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, hyperactivity, headaches, lupus, multiple sclerosis, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, frequent sickness, hormonal problems, liver or kidney damage, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. These health issues may be the result of toxic chemical exposure.

Chemicals are stored in our fatty tissue with the brain being target due to its high fat content. Over time, these dangerous chemicals can wreak havoc upon your body. Is it any wonder that cancer and asthma rates keep increasing while breast cancer plagues women like a stalker?

Because ingredients are considered trade secrets, manufacturers are not required to list them. Even if they were, you’d find foreign words that bear no meaning. So, a warning is the only thing you’ll get when looking at a cleaning product label, and they pertain only to immediate dangers should the product be ingested or come in improper contact with the skin.

The chemical industry is exceedingly powerful and should data suggest a chemical be removed from the market, these blokes go into overdrive. Washington is crawling with former or current board members of chemical companies and they get their way in our current, corporate run government. These industries have studiously fought Right-to-Know laws, have contributed millions to politicos and have fought legislation blocking your right to know how they are harming you and your planet. The Chlorine Industry alone spends $150 million a year to battle any claims as to the safety of this chemical. ( Europe has stopped bleaching paper with chlorine due to the cancer inducing chemical dioxin that is created during the process. You can find dioxins in tampons, toilette paper, paper towels and other items we are told need to be “white”.) In addition you can find chlorine in mildew removers, toilette bowl cleaners, automatic dishwashing detergents and bleach. Fumes enter the lungs and derail us from there. Bottom line is, we simply cannot rely on the EPA to protect us.

The Mother Needs You

Mopping my floor one day, a thought occurred to me as I dumped the mop water down the sink. Where does this chemical infused water go? The toxic products we put in our washing machines, dishwashers, down our sinks and on our lawns ultimately find their way in to the environment and the public water system. In addition, industries reported in 2001 that they released more than 6.16 billion pounds of toxins in to the environment. Our mother earth has turned in to one giant toxic dump and the effects are showing on the beings that live here. I decided that for those that come after me, it was crucial that I do my part and make wiser choices. Children and animals are small bodied, and the elderly have weakened immune systems. This makes them all the more susceptible to the effects of chemical residue. It was clear that for my animals, I had to rid my home of dangerous substances as well.

Going In To Detox

Here’s the good news. And it is very good. Detoxing your home is incredibly easy and you’ll be highly pleased with alternative products. Start by getting a box or two. Go through your home and fill them up with glass, floor and bath cleaners, laundry and dishwasher detergents, softeners, polishes, air fresheners, etc. While you’re at it, throw in old paint, thinners and aerosols that might be in the garage. Absolutely DO NOT toss this stuff in the garbage as it will result in leakage in to the ground water. Like most cities, Nashville offers hazardous household waste disposal drop off at no charge:

Hazardous Household Wastes Drop Off
East Center
941 Doctor Richard G. Adams Drive Hours:
Monday-Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. You can easily find effective, non-toxic replacements for these items at your health food store with Wild Oats having a superb selection of bathroom cleaners, floor cleaners, dish and dishwasher soaps, furniture polish and laundry detergent. As an added and important benefit, none of these products are tested on animals. You can also make many natural cleaners that will prove easy on your wallet as well. Due to space constraints, I won’t list recipes, but you can find recipes via published materials, with the Internet being an excellent tool. You’ll be delighted to be using such items as borax, white vinegar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice, baking soda and olive oil to name a few.

When you make the commitment to detox your home, you say no to the chemical companies, yes to better health and yes to a socially responsible way of life that reaches beyond your walls.

(In Part II, we will take a hard look at the startling reality of personal care products.)

Recommended Reading

  • The Non-Toxic Home & Office and Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd
  • Safe Shopper’s Bible by David Steinman and Samuel Epstein, M.D.
  • Toxic Deception by Dan Fagin and Marianne Lavelle
  • Bugbusters: Getting Rid of Household Pests Without Dangerous Chemicals by Bernice Lifton