Ready to cut down on possible toxic health risks in everyday life? We already know the dangers of smoking, and individually we can't do much to stop industrial air pollution. But, we can take small steps everyday, in our own homes.
One of the first tips on detoxing our homes, from Women's Voices for the Earth is to dust, mop and vacuum to get rid of dust. Believe it or not, WVE researchers say dust is one of the main ways trace amounts of toxic chemicals find their way into our bodies. I have to confess that I need to work on this one. I love to mop the floor, but I hate dusting all of that stuff on the shelves, don't you? The tips remind us that simply stirring up the dust with a feather duster defeats the purpose of this exercise, while micro-fiber cloths and HEPA filters are useful. WVE also recommends removing shoes at the door
to avoid tracking in more toxins, even pesticides from lawns.
WVE's presentation states: "Certain chemicals in cleaning products have been linked to fertility problems, breast cancer, hormone disruption, asthma, and other serious illnesses. And the problem is that companies don't have to list ingredients in cleaning products, so we can't even avoid certain chemicals if we want to." Was anybody else out there taught that lots of bleach and ammonia products were necessary for good housekeeping? A house couldn't be declared clean until it smelled clean, even if you needed the extra punch of a store-bought air freshener! The science is casting doubt on how wise these cleaning choices really were. WVE also warns about the hormone disruptor triclosan that is showing up in many soaps and other products labeled antibacterial. Scientists have found triclosan in both blood and breastmilk. There's also concern about synthetic fragrances in cleaning products. WVE suggests that until we can be aware of all cleaning ingredients and be assured they are safe, we can make safer alternatives on our own. Old-fashioned vinegar and baking soda are the staples of Green Cleaning Parties
where people are teaching each other what many grandmothers already knew. Today's twist is that lovely essential oils and some other natural ingredients can create a more sophisticated version of most products.
When it comes to the kitchen, WVE has several recommendations for keeping our food and water as clean as possible:
Filter drinking water
Buy organic foods when possible
Look for antibiotic and hormone-free meats
Avoid canned foods (because of bisphenol-A or BPA in can liners)
Don't microwave any plastic
If using cool plastic, choose BPA-free
Avoid nonstick cookware or at least keep Teflon temperatures medium or low
While the volume of information about toxic chemicals in our homes seems overwhelming, WVE
spokesperson Cassidy Randall suggests that, "You can sort of adapt these suggestions to fit your lifestyle. Anything you can do is a meaningful step."
Tomorrow: WVE's tips on personal care products