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! 

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