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Decrease Toxins in Your Homes

People in developed countries spend an average of more than 90% of their time indoors. As such, indoor environments can be huge contributors to toxic burden and, ultimately, health.

The idea of toxic burden is that our bodies can handle some harmful exposures. But there comes a point when the vulnerability becomes too much, and it begins to take a toll. Then symptoms arise. This can be a fine line and is different for everyone as tolerance levels drastically differ depending on genetics, nutritional status, and other stressors.

Furniture, electronics, personal care products, and cleaning products can all contain chemicals that end up in the indoor air and settled dust. These products can be associated with adverse health effects, such as reproductive and endocrine toxicity. Given our ever-increasing toxic burden in our society, this is a big deal and something that does not receive the level of attention it deserves.

Thankfully most are aware of the importance of using a good water filter. This is paramount. The following are some additional approachable tips that my clients have found useful.

  1. Use untreated fabrics as much as possible. Stain-resistant furniture and carpeting have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde. The same is true for flame-retardant clothing, such as children’s pajamas.
  2. Do not use artificial air fresheners. A single fragrance in a product can contain a mixture of hundreds of chemicals, some of which (e.g., limonene, a citrus scent) react with ozone in ambient air to form dangerous secondary pollutants, including formaldehyde. Pure organic essential oils diffused into the air are a great alternative if you must have a scent.
  3. Have a “No shoes in the house” policy. Shoes bring in the contaminants from the outside, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides (including glyphosate).
  4. Don’t use dryer sheets. Dryer sheets can contain include benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (respiratory tract irritant), ethanol (linked to central nervous system disorders), limonene (a known carcinogen) and chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen), among others. Wool Dryer balls are an effective natural alternative. National Geographic’s Green Guide recommends adding either a quarter cup of baking soda or a quarter cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. Either one will soften clothes, while the latter will also address static cling.
  5. Regularly dust and vacuum your floors, mattress, and furniture as “dust bunnies” are found to be magnets for chemicals such as lead, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s), and pesticides such as glyphosate. On the same note, be sure to hold your breath and keep kiddos away when you empty that vacuum canister. (I know my two year old always likes to get right up by my side to see what I’m doing… not a great idea in this case!)
  6. Use green cleaning products. Many conventional cleaning products expose you to chemicals such as benzene, boric acid, and phthalates, which are known to be both carcinogenic and disrupt hormones. Please read labels, and when in doubt make your own with baking soda or vinegar and essential oils. (There are many recipes available online with a quick search.)

Obviously, there are more steps one can take, (perhaps take a look at my article on houseplants that remove toxins but these are a great start! Being mindful of these potential exposures, and taking steps to remediate them, can have a huge effect on you and your family’s overall well being.

I welcome any questions, and am more than happy to provide specific product recommendations if you would like! Feel free to drop me a line.

If you would like to read more information about detoxifying, check out The Phases of Detoxification


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Zota AR, Singla V, Adamkiewicz G, Mitro SD, Dodson RE. Reducing chemical exposures at home: opportunities for action [published online ahead of print, 2017 Jul 29]. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017;71(9):937–940. doi:10.1136/jech-2016-208676

Little JC, Weschler CJ, Nazaroff WW, et al. Rapid methods to estimate potential exposure to semivolatile organic compounds in the indoor environment. Environ Sci Technol 2012;46:11171–8.10.1021/es301088a

Steinemann AC, et al. Fragranced consumer products: chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. Environ Impact Assess Rev. doi: 10.1016/j.eiar.2010.08.002

Caress SM, Steinemann AC. Prevalence of fragrance sensitivity in the American population. J Environ Health. 2009;71(7):46–50

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