11 Oct Removing Household Environmental Toxins
When most people think about toxins that can mess with their health, they think of a large and obvious exposure like a chemical spill, acute poisoning, or accidental contact with something that makes them sick. In reality, most of the toxic load that the average person has is a result of things they are exposed to everyday at home or at work. You may find that your health doesn’t really start to change until you remove these toxins from your home or workplace.
Fragrances are common toxins that are often ignored.
It seems like every single cleaning product being sold today has some amazing scent added to it. Every laundry detergent, every counter spray, every carpet freshener all have added fragrances. The problem is that the fragrances added to these products are not natural, but instead are really other chemicals added to give a certain smell. Legally in the U.S., the term “fragrance” refers to a combination of chemicals that may be derived from petroleum, various chemicals, or from natural raw materials. Typically, there is a combination of chemicals used in order to produce the fragrance that the product has. The problem is that most of these chemicals are hormone disruptors that can cause problems of the reproductive system. Common offenders are spray air fresheners, fragrance “plug ins”, dryer sheets, and even your own perfume bottle.
You breathe in flame retardants every day.
With the good intentions of fire safety, most furniture products today are made with some flame retardant materials. These can be on your couch, in your curtains, in your carpet, definitely in your mattress, your electronics, and even in your clothing. Flame retardants are linked with an increase in hormonal cancers and imbalances. Hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer have already been tied to use of products with flame retardants, which has been on a steep rise over the last few decades. You don’t have to very close to the material itself to breathe it in. Every material is constantly shedding on a microscopic level which ends up contributing to house dust. As you move around, the dust is lifted and you breathe it in. Weekly wet mopping is recommended to remove these particles without forming a dust cloud. Vacuuming carpets and furniture is also recommended weekly – just remember to use a vacuum with a good HEPA filter and a bag for easy removal.
It’s almost impossible to get away from toxins in plastics.
They are in every plastic water bottle you drink, in your food containers and wrappers. They even line your microwavable popcorn bags. Plastics are so common now that they can be found in the bloodstream of a baby before it’s born. Many of these plastics have estrogen-like hormone activity that can lower men’s sperm count, increase your risk for hormonal cancers (like breast, prostate, and ovarian), and cause epigenetic changes that can make you fatter. If you have any plastic products in the house that have a ‘plastic’ smell (like shower curtains, flooring, memory foam, etc.) these have high concentrations of plastics that could be harmful.
Use glass to store food whenever possible. Never heat up food in plastic or Styrofoam containers or leave food or water in plastic out in the sunlight. It may be a good idea to stop your obsession with buying bottled water. Not only is it environmentally disastrous and expensive, it gives you a continuous stream of plastics into your body. It’s best to get a water filter at home and fill up either glass or stainless steel water bottles to take with you wherever you go.
Check your water for toxins.
Speaking of getting a water filter, plastics aren’t the only thing you want to filter out of your drinking water. Many communities have fluoride added to their water, while others use chemicals containing chloride. Each community has it’s particular formula for water treatment and you should get familiar with yours. You can usually check their website to see what chemicals are added to the water and what the most recent testing showed. Once you know what you have to filter out of your water, you can decide which filter will work best for you. Check out EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide.
Look for other toxins.
Remember that there may be other toxins in your home that you should check for. Every house should be checked for Radon, which is a natural radioactive gas that is released from the earth in different concentrations at different locations. It has no smell so you won’t be able to tell if it’s present unless you check for it. It has been linked with lung cancer. Radon is most common in the Midwest and Northern states, but has been found in every area to some extent.
Finally, common toxins that people use everyday are pesticides and insecticides. These chemicals have irreversible hormone effects on your system, are toxic to you nervous system, and have been linked to cancer. Unfortunately, many people use these directly on their skin or on their lawns where their pets and their children play. Not only are these chemicals readily absorbed through your skin, but are also inhaled as well. Consider natural options whenever possible to avoid the dangerous effects of these chemicals.
Madeleine M Castellanos, MD is a practitioner of functional medicine – working with people to identify the root cause of their symptoms and helping them to reverse the process of illness through diet, nutrition, and lifestyle optimization. She also integrates the physical with the mental and spiritual aspect of health and teaches people how to use these together for their best quality of life. In her private practice, she does body composition analysis, can recommend nutritional and toxic element testing, and hormone evaluation. For more information, or to book an appointment, please call 917-454-8444.