Turning Dreams Into Reality....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Please Protect Yourself From Household Toxics by Debra Lynn Dadd

The idea that one's home can be a healthy or unhealthy place to live is relatively recent.  Terms such as "household toxics" and "indoor air pollution" have been coined only within the past decade as the medical and scientific communities have begun recognizing that common household chemicals can have an adverse effect on our health.

Like most people, I always assumed that if a product was on the market, it must be safe.  I've now learned, through my own painful experience, that nothing could be further from the truth.

Actually most consumer products that we all use every day are filled with toxic chemicals, many of which would require special handling if used in a chemical laboratory or in the workplace.  In fact, in industry, workers are required to wear special gloves, goggles, and sometimes even a respirator when using some of the exact same chemicals found in just about every home.

Yet, we use products containing these same chemicals at home with no protection at all and with no ventilation!

For most of my life I never knew what it was like to feel well.  As a child, and through my teens and early twenties, I was so constantly plagued with symptoms that I thought mu continuous state of ill health was normal.  My eyes were usually swollen, my throat was sore, my head ached, and profuse acne covered most of my upper body.  I was mildly depressed most of the time and lacked self-confidence and motivation.  I was often too fatigued to follow through on activities that interested me.

Then in 1978 I learned that my symptoms were caused by exposure to various chemicals found in everyday household products.  I assumed that I was having some abnormal reaction to substances that were harmless to everyone else.  But as I started reading government documentations, trade journals, and toxicology books to find out what was in these ordinary products, I learned my reactions were not unusual.  Without exception, every chemical I reacted to was listed in toxicology books as having known toxic effects.  Finally I came to realize that I was slowly being poisoned in my own home!

And the problem didn't just affect me.  While certain people may be more sensitive than others, and some chemicals may bring on reactions only after many years of repeated exposure, I discovered through my research that chemicals in the home could put anyone as risk.  Cancer, birth defects, genetic changes, heart disease - almost any symptom imaginable, both physical and psychological, has been associated with chemicals in common household products.  Recently scientists have discovered that toxic chemicals can lodge in our endocrine system contributing to thyroid problems, diabetes, weight gain, and infertility.  At greatest risk are fetuses, children, the elderly, and those who are already ill, but these chemicals are threatening the health of everyone, every day.

I immediately began to detoxify my house.  The more I removed toxic substances from my life and replaced them with nontoxic alternatives, the better I felt, until I was completely free of my debilitating symptoms.  Since then I've devoted my life to getting the word out about household toxics.  Had I known about toxic household products before I got sick, I would have avoided them and saved years of physical, emotional, and financial suffering.

Now that you know there are toxic chemicals in most of the products you use in your home, there's no need for you or your loved ones to risk the very real probability of long-term illness or fatal poisoning from these products.  You can do something to protect your health,  In today's marketplace, there's no need to use toxic products because safe, effective, affordable alternatives are available.

Here's a little of what I've learned....
Ninety-two percent of all poison exposures occur in the home, involving everyday household items such as medicines, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and personal care items.  Every 13 seconds a family calls a poison control center regarding an exposure to poison at home.  In 2002 over two million poison exposures were reported to local poison control centers.

There are basically three ways that toxic chemicals can enter your body: by swallowing, by breathing, or by contact with your skin or eyes.

When most people hear about a chemical poisoning they usually think about swallowing (ingestion).  Over three-quarters of all poison exposures reported to poison control centers involve ingestion of a toxic household product. 

The personal care products we put on our skin and hair create possible toxic exposures through the skin absorption.  These include soaps, lotions, creams, cosmetics, shampoos, deodorants, and other common products.  In 1989 a House subcommittee asked the national Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to analyze 2,983 chemicals used in personal care products, and 884 were found to be toxic.  Of these 778 can cause acute toxicity, 146 can cause tumors, 218 can cause reproductive complications, 314 can cause biological mutation, and 376 can cause skin and eye irritations.  Personal care products should promote hygiene, health, and beauty.... not make us sick.

Of course I don't mean to suggest that everyone will experience health problems if they use a product containing toxic ingredients once or twice, although many people do.  Actually most poisonings happen slowly, over a long period of time by gradual skin absorption or by daily exposure to toxics we breathe in the air. 
Doctors are beginning to understand that toxics gradually build up in our bodies over time.  A study done in 2003 by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found an average of 91 industrial compounds in the bodies of volunteers.  Of the 167 chemicals found, 76 cause cancer in humans or animals, 94 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 79 cause birth defects or abnormal development.  Like you and me, the people tested were exposed to these chemicals in their average daily lives.

When I talk to people about toxics in the air, they are usually surprised to learn that indoor air is generally much worse to braethe than outdoor air.  Inf fact an EPA Report to Congress stated that indoor air pollution is one of the nation's most important environmental health probelms.  Accorsing to the EPA most homes have airborne concentrations of hazardous chemicals that are two to five times higher indoors than outdoors.

One reason chemical concentrations are so high in some homes is that cleaning products, personal care products, and other household goods release toxic vapours into the air when they are used - some even when they are being stored  The next time you walk down the cleaning products aisle int he supermarket, notice how strongly it smells of toxic chemicals, even though all the packages are tightly closed.  With windows sealed shut in the winter to conserve heat and save energy, and in the summer to hold in cool air-conditioned air, these toxic fumes have nowehere to go and just build up to higher and higher levels.

Household clening products are among he most toxic substances we encounter daily.  In one study conducted over a 15-year period, women who worked at home had a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who had jobs away from the home.  The study concluded that the increased death rate was due to daily exposure to hazardous chemicals found in ordinary household products.  Both my mother and grandmother worked at home, and both died from cancer.  My mother was only 51.  I believe she would be alove today if she had been aware of the information contained here.

i have one final comment to make about household toxics, because this is dear to my heart.  Household toxics don't jsut affect us, they create toxic waste in their manufacture and use which gets disposed of in the environment in the form of air and water pollution and solid toxic waste.  Not only does this pollution come back to haunt our own health, but it also harms wildlife.
To cite only one example, the California Department of Fish and Game tested the toxicity of common chemicals that they found int heir waterways.  The most toxic substances to aquatic organisms were household bleach, all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent, and dish detergent.  These were more harmful to aquatic life than other household products we think of as being more toxic, such as paint or car wax.
The natural environment makes it possible for us to live on this earth.  From it we draw everything that sustains our lives.  Without it, we cannot survive.

What You Can Do...
The first step is to educate ourselves. 
The next step is to begin to elinimate toxics from your daily life.  While cleaning and personal care products are not the only source of toxic chemicals in your home, they are amoung the most toxic and deadly.  Fortunately they are also the easiest to replace.  There are some good sources for safer cleaning and personal care products! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let's Stop Poisoning Our Children! by Richard Barry

Why should 3 year old Jason Whitley have dies a lingering and horrible death after swallowing three ounces of hair conditioner>  Two weeks after drinking the liquid, which contains ammonia, the little boy died.
And why should 7-month old Adrian Gonzales have died?  He crawled through a puddle of spilled laundry bleach which gave him third-degree burns on 50% of his tiny body, and burned his lungs from the fumes as well.  It took him four agonizing days to due.  And why should little Peter Schwab have suffered so much?  When he was a year old he crawled over to the dishwasher to watch his mother unloading it.  Suddenly he put a finger into the detergent dispensing cup and ate a fingerful of wet but undissolved Electrasol.  In minutes his was red and blistered, and the inside of his mouth and his tongue were burned white.  Because of a series of lucky circumstances, Peter was in a hospital within minutes and he recovered in a few days.  Not so for the little girl across the hall in the hospital who (according to Peter's mother) ate some dishwasher detergent and required seven operations to reopen her scarred esophagus.  Or the 18-month old boy who had to eat and breathe through tubes for 5 months and at last count has had 30 operations.  Dishwasher detergent is what destroyed his throat too. 
Why must these children have suffered so?  if only they had never been exposed to such hazardous chemicals.  Every year five to ten million household poisonings are reported.  These poisonings are the result of accidental ingestion of common household substances found in just about every home.
The real tragedy is, accidents like these can easily be avoided.  Buy most parents aren't aware that there are effective products on the market that are much safer than nationally advertised brands and, in most cases, cost less.
This is simply meant to be a wake-up call for parents.  I think you will be shocked to learn about some of the health hazards your child is exposed to every day because of the cleaning and personal care products in your home. 

Household Chemicals - A Loaded Gun
The average home today contains more chemicals than were found in a typical chemistry lab at the turn of the 20th century.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has determined that cleaning products are some of the most dangerous substances in the home.  Go into your kitchen and bathroom and look under the sinks where you keep your cleaning supplies.  What have you found?  Window cleaner?  Bleach?  Laundry and dishwashing detergent?  Shampoo?  Mouthwash?  These products can be violent, lethal poisons with the potential to kill or seriously injure your child - or any child who may come into our home.
Would you keep a loaded gun under your sink?  Of course not!  What a silly question! Yet these products can be just as deadly.
Maybe you keep your cleaning and personal care products locked away or up high out of reach of children.  If you do, good!  But I ask you again.  Would you feel comfortable keeping a loaded gun there?  Would you bet your child's life that he or she could never get to that gun?  Of course not!  Yet more children under four die of accidental poisoning at home than are accidentally are killed with guns at home.  My point is this - why are these lethal products in your home at all?  Probably because you didn't realize how dangerous they can be.  And you probably weren't aware that there are products on the market that are effective, much safer and more economical than grocery store brands.  The fact is by using safer household products, you would no longer be taking unnecessary chances with your child. 

Long Term Health Hazards Of Household Products
Most poisoning happen slowly, over a long period of time, by daily exposure to toxins int he air and toxic chemicals that come into contact with the skin.  Household products are among the most toxic substances we encounter daily.  In one study conducted over a 15 year period, a woman who worked at home at a 50% higher death rate from cancer than women who had jobs away from home.
This study concluded that the increase death rate in the woman was due to daily exposure to the hazardous chemicals found in ordinary household products.  Also a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission on chemicals commonly found in homes identify 150 that have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and physiological abnormalities.  And a 1985 EPA Report concluded that the toxic chemicals in household cleaners are 3 times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution.  Obviously children are exposed to the same chemicals at home.  After day in day out exposure to these toxins they may suddenly respond with cancer, learning difficulties, allergies, lung problems or damage to the immune system.
With your child's long term health at stake, should the chemicals remain in your home?

Toxic Ingredients In Personal Care Products
Personal care products are made to put on your skin, in your hair or in your mouth.  But many ingredients used in personal care products are also toxic and can be either ingested during use (like some ingredients in mouthwash and toothpaste) or can be easily absorbed through the skin into the blood stream (like some ingredients in soaps, lotions, creams, cosmetics, shampoos, deodorants, etc.)
In 1989 a house subcommittee asked the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to analyze 20983 chemicals used in personal care products.  The results were as follows: 884 of the ingredients were found to be toxic.  Of these 778 can cause acute toxicity.  146 can cause tumors.  218 can cause reproductive complications.  314 can cause biological mutation and 376 can cause

Indoor Air Pollution
Are you concerned about the air your child breathes? You may be shocked to learn that according to an EPA report to congress on indoor air and the subcommittee hearings on the indoor air quality act of 1989 indoor air pollution is one of the nations most important environmental health problems, according to the EPA.  Most homes have airborne concentrations of hazardous and toxic chemicals that are 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors.  In one 5-year study the EPA reported that a number of homes had chemical levels that were 70 times higher inside the homes than outside.  One reason chemical concentrations are so high in some homes is that cleaning products and some personal care products release toxic vapours into the air when they are used - and even when they are stored.  This process is called out-gassing.  It's alarming that indoor air is so full of chemical vapours because most children spend 12 to 20 hours a day in their homes.  Physiologically children are most vulnerable to toxic vapours than adults because of their higher metabolic rate.  They require more oxygen and they breathe in 2 to 3 times as much air (and therefore toxins) relative to the body size than adults.  Children are more physically active.  This also increases the breathing rate and intake of toxins.  In addition children play close to the floor where heavier pollutants settle.  Airborne chemicals are a suspected cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) which takes the lives of thousands of infants each year.  This may explain the documented higher incidence of SIDS in the winter time. During the winter windows are left closed, decreasing the ventilation, which increases the concentration of out-gased vapors in the home.  No one knows what causes SIDS, but why take unnecessary chances with your infant?  Fortunately parents can do something t reduce their families exposure to airborne toxins from household products.  They can simply switch brands.