Exposure to household toxins is linked to just about every disease
that we know of, most notably cancer.
Numerous animal studies have linked many of the more than 24,000 toxins
that exist in our environment to negative health effects on the following systems:
Many household toxins have also been linked to mental and physical developmental
problems in children.
Because we are unable to feel, see, smell, or taste many household toxins at
first contact, it is important to be aware of the most common household toxins
and to proactively take measures to prevent or reduce our exposure to them.
The most common household toxins are as follows:
1. Triclosan: an antibacterial agent that is chemically similar
to the dioxin class of compounds.
Linked to: immune system dysfunction.
Most commonly found in: many liquid soaps and in some deodorants,
toothpastes, cosmetics, kitchenware, and children's toys.
2. Phthalates: large phthalates are chemicals that are added
to plastics to impart resilience and flexibility. Smaller phthalates are used
to prolong the length of time that a scented product maintains its fragrance.
Linked to: endocrine, reproductive, and developmental problems.
Most commonly found in: vinyl flooring, plastic food packaging,
plastic bags, plastic clothing, detergents, children's toys, shower curtains,
and personal care products like soap, shampoo, nail polish, and hair spray.
3. Bisphenol A: used in epoxy resins that line some metal
cans, and to make polycarbonate plastics utilized in a variety of food containers
and baby products.
Linked to: endocrine problems.
Most commonly found in: food and drink containers, baby
bottles, teethers, toys, metal food cans, and dental sealants used to prevent
4. Carbon monoxide: formed from incomplete combustion of
fuel. Carbon monoxide decreases delivery of oxygen to cells.
Linked to: cardiovascular and nervous system failure.
Most commonly produced by: leaking furnaces and chimneys,
gas stoves, wood stoves and fireplaces, back-drafting from gas water heaters,
and auto exhaust from an attached garage or nearby traffic.
5. Perfluorinated chemicals: used to make stain-repellents
and non-stick surfaces.
Linked to: many different types of cancer and developmental
problems in children.
Most commonly found in: teflon-coated cookware, microwave
popcorn bags, and stain-guarded clothing, furniture, and carpets.
6. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): chemicals that are
released into the air as gases.
Linked to: reproductive, respiratory, neurological, and
developmental problems. Also linked to different types of cancer.
Most commonly found in: air fresheners, hair spray, perfumes,
cleaning products, paints, carpets, and furniture made out of pressed wood.
7. Radon: odorless gas that forms as uranium in rocks and
soil breaks down.
Linked to: lung cancer.
Most commonly found in: confined spaces, the most common
of which are poorly ventilated basements that have cracked walls and/or floors.
8. Lead: a heavy metal that can build up in our tissues.
Linked to: cancer, neurological dysfunction, hormonal imbalances,
reproductive problems, and developmental problems in children.
Most commonly found in: lead plumbing pipes found in older
homes, lead-based paint, crystal tableware, and some varieties of imported
9. Pesticides and herbicides: linked to problems with the
nervous system, and possibly a risk factor for cancer, developmental challenges,
and reproductive problems.
Most commonly found in: non-organic food supply, non-organic
farming regions, and non-organic landscaped areas that are well maintained.
Although we are all at risk of experiencing health problems due to exposure
to the household toxins listed above, particularly worrisome are the effects
that these toxins may have on babies growing in their mothers' wombs.
A study conducted in 2004 by the Environmental
Working Group found that umbilical cord blood from 10 newborns contained
chemicals used in consumer products, pesticides, and by-products from gasoline,
garbage, and the burning of coal.
On average, the blood from each newborn contained 200 industrial pollutants
and chemicals. Of the 287 toxins that were found in the newborns' blood, 180
are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are known to be toxic to
the brain and nervous system, and 208 are known to cause birth defects or abnormal
development in animal tests.
I think it's import not to become obsessed with living in a way that minimizes
exposure to household and other toxins. I firmly believe that such an obsession
can quite possibly become an emotional stressor that creates more of a negative
impact on our health than toxins themselves.
Still, within the context of living emotionally balanced lives, we can significantly
lower our risk of developing many different types of chronic disease by doing
our best to avoid the most common sources of the toxins listed in this article.