Even though most people are becoming much more conscious about eating organic, avoiding harmful chemicals, and generally making healthier choices, without realizing it we are exposed to a barrage of harmful toxins on a daily basis. More than 3000 chemicals are added to our food supply in North America with another 10,000 chemicals added in the processing, packaging, and preserving process. And even for those that are making an effort to avoid daily toxins, an average of 400-800 different chemical residues were found stored in our fat cells (1,2).
Think of your daily morning routine for a moment.
The average person will sleep in bedding washed with laundry detergents containing toxins. Wake up and use soaps and shampoos containing additives, surfactants (SLS/SLES) and other irritants. Unknowingly add a handful more of toxins when applying make up that will be absorbed through your skin all day. From there, possibly you spend time on your commute breathing exhaust and automobile fumes. At work, are there any cleaning or industrial chemicals that you come into contact with? Perhaps after a long day you light a scented candle to relax, unknowingly releasing carcinogenic chemicals throughout your home.
While some of this information may make you want to crawl in a hole and hide from the world, instead use it to empower your decisions. There are small changes within your control so you can reduce your toxic load each day.
Let’s take a look!
First you’ll want to understand what you are looking to avoid and why.
1,4 dioxane is a known carcinogen that will exist in any product containing SLES. It is commonly found in soaps, shampoos, and detergents and disrupts brain and central nervous system function, as well as kidney, liver and respiratory systems. Water filters can’t remove dioxane and it is not biodegradable. (3)
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are known carcinogens and skin irritants also found in soaps, shampoos and detergents. They have been linked to developmental and reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption. (4)
Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) is a known endocrine disruptor that can mimic estrogen in our bodies. It is commonly found in detergents and soaps. (5)
Parabens, benzyl alcohol, methylisothiazolinone/methylchloroisothiazonlinone are preservatives often added to personal care items and cosmetics. Each of these is linked to various cancers, neurotoxicity, and skin irritation (6).
What can I do to avoid toxins?
- Choose Organic or Trusted All natural laundry detergents and household cleaners. I use these two brands here:
- Read your labels. Avoid these ingredients commonly found in soaps, shampoos, cleaners and cosmetics: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
- sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS)
- 1,4-dioxane (by product of SLS)
- nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE)
- Avoid air fresheners and scented candles. Instead choose pure essential oils in a diffuser or open a window.
- Choose organic meats, dairy and produce whenever possible
- Avoid processed foods. Remember they are processed with chemicals.
- Choose a botanical or natural bug repellent such as this blend here made with pure essential oils such as citronella
- Do not microwave food in plastic containers ever. Choose glass or ceramic dishes instead. Glass tupperware containers are a great option for reheating leftovers. Shop at Amazon.com!
- Avoid using plastic containers made of BPA (bisphenol A). This often includes any plastic container, water bottles, and canned food.
- Get a plant! Indoor green plants will improve the quality of your household air and help eliminate airborne toxins.
There are many choices that are within your control when attempting to reduce your toxic load. Yes, it takes a bit of effort and there will be learning curve upfront. Your long term health is at stake; it’s worth it!
Consider choosing one step from the list above each day. Remove all toxic household cleaners from your home one day. Make a trip to your local health store for natural based products the next day. Purchase a household plant to reduce the existing airborne chemicals in your home the next. You’ll find it’s actually quite manageable to reduce your toxic exposure on a daily basis. One step towards better long term health for you and your family!
Anti-Aging Today. Environmental Toxicity and Health Report. http://www.anti-aging-today.org/environment/index.htm
WWF Global. Toxic Chemicals. http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/webfieldtrips/toxics/
National Toxicology Porgram. 13th Report on Carcinogens. http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/pubhealth/roc/roc13/index.html
EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient.php?ingred06=706110
Williams, Maria M. Nonylphenol and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates. 2011. Toxipedia: Connecting Science and People. http://www.toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Nonylphenol+and+Nonylphenol+Ethoxylates
Gimme the Good Stuff. https://gimmethegoodstuff.org/glossary/#parabens\