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Environmental Toxins in the Home

Toxins in our home? Really?

Yes, really.

They can actually arrive as the home is being built. Many building materials contain formaldehyde. You know, that smelly preservative used in high school biology class? Yes, that formaldehyde. It is found in insulation. It is included in most insulation. It is in many flooring products. It is in particle board. From all these locations, it seeps slowly into the air in our homes, through a gradual process known as "outgassing". For the average new home, it can take years for all the fumes to dissipate.

What can you do in the meantime? Probably the best solution are air filters. How many you need depends on how big your home is.

What about other potential sources of toxins in your home? You may have used some today and didn't even realize it.

Have you ever walked through your local supermarket or big box store, gone to the aisle with all the soaps, detergents, cleaners and such, and quickly gotten a headache? The same phenomenon of outgassing is taking place from those bottles and bottles of chemicals disguised as cleaning products. Some stores actually label this aisle the "chemical department". Most of them contain a cocktail of harmful chemicals. If you ever read the labels you will quickly realize you need degree in chemistry just to know what most of them are.

Next, stop by the body care products aisle, with all the shampoos, conditioners, lotions and potions, and you will often get another headache, though not always as bad as the chemical aisle. Many, many body care products also contain harmful ingredients which we then dutifully rub all over our bodies.

Some of the most-harmful ingredients in body care products include:

Formaldehyde. Yes, that same toxic preservative from biology class, that outgasses from your flooring and insulation. It is also found as an ingredient in body care products where it is used as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth. Among many problems, formaldehyde causes cancer.

Toluene. This is a solvent, often used in paint thinner. It causes skin irritation and respiratory problems. Alternative names that may be on the labels include benzene, methylbenzene, toluol or phenylethane. Toluene is a common ingredient in nail care products, hair dyes, and bleaching products. Pregnant women should NOT use it at all because it can cause birth defects.

Propylene Glycol. This is an industrial chemical often used as a de-icing spray on aircraft in winter. You might very well see it showing up in your shampoo. It is a known skin irritant and can cause dermatitis.

Phthalates. This includes diethyl, dimethyl and dibutyl phthalates. It can disrupt the endocrine system, and is associated with breast cancers, early breast development (premature puberty) and increased birth defects. It is found in hair spray, lotions, nail polish, and deodorants.

Triclosan. This is an antimicrobial chemical, basically a preservative, often found in antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and toothpaste. Its adverse health effects include disruption of the reproductive system and the thyroid.

Parabens. These are preservatives intended to stop the growth of yeasts, molds and bacteria. The chemical structure mimics estrogen, causing women's hormone balance disruption and has been found in breast tumors.

These are just a few of the more commonly found toxic ingredients that might be in products you use regularly. It has been estimated that if you live in household that uses all your cleaning and laundry products and body care products from typical big box stores, you are probably exposed to as many toxins as if you were smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.

Now that I hopefully have your attention, your next question I'm sure is, what to do about it.

Step 1, read the labels on products you already have in your home and use regularly. Anything that contains these toxins, or other chemical names you don't recognize needs to be eliminated. When you shop for replacements, READ THE INGREDIENTS! You may be shocked at how many toxins you've been exposing yourself to.

If you need product recommendations for safer, non-toxic alternatives, please contact me directly.

Let's be safe out there!

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