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Toxic Free

blog, Toxic Free

WHERE ARE THE TOXINS?

Where are the toxins? 

I need to start by saying I never would have labelled myself as an activist, a tree hugger or an environmentalist, I am certainly not a political soundbox, I am simply a Wife, a Mum, a Grandma and an informed RN who cares about our future generations…..

But sometimes I get so MAD!!

Why? Because people ignore what is happening in front of them.
You know they are there, the dreaded toxins, all around us.. you would have to be living under a rock to not have noticed.
So is there a PROBLEM?

YES!! The problem that no-one wants to admit is that toxins are having a lifelong impact not only to ourselves but to our future generations!
It’s like the Elephant in the closet… if we close the door it’s not there!
But they are there…and they are a huge problem..
But Penny, I don’t use much and not very often..they are such small amounts, what’s the problem?

Toxins No Toxins

Well it’s like this…
The most up to date research shows that it is not as previously thought that we are most at risk from high does of toxic chemicals! Research shows that it is the accumulation of small insidious amounts that we are exposed to everyday in our water, our food, our personal care products and our air that can be just as, if not more harmful!
When we are exposed to large amounts of toxins, the body goes into self defense mechanism, protect and preserve! Kinda like a home invasion!

When we are exposed to very small amounts on a regular basis they go unnoticed and the body does not respond the same way… until the body burden becomes too great. This can show up as food allergies, auto immune disorders, neurological problems, thyroid issues and cancer.

Unfortunately the outdated laws that are in place allow for small amounts of endocrine disrupting chemicals, pesticides and other chemical toxins in our products..they are either self regulated by the manufacturer or they go unregulated.
But we live in a civilized country, why are we being exposed to chemicals that are attacking our bodies, causing cancer, birth defects, nervous system disorders and other problems?

Here in the US we stand alone from other countries and not in a good way. While other countries like Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, amongst others are responsibly protecting their citizens by implementing the Precautionary Principle when it comes to releasing products on the consumer that may be harmful, here in the US we practice the Burden of Proof where a product has to be proven to be harmful before it can be banned. Did you know, there are products manufactured in other countries that no one else will purchase because of the toxic ingredients in them, so they are sold here in the USA?

But what does that have to do with me I hear you say?

Well, because of the burden of proof, YOU are the experiment.

There is no one in a position of authority looking out for your best interests…sad I know but true.
You are responsible for you… you determine your destiny and the future of your children by the choices you make when you purchase your shampoo or toothpaste or drink from a plastic bottle or buy pesticide laden food.
Within that responsibility, you are in control and have the purchasing power to demand safe products and food for yourself and your children.

YOU have a choice, every time.

Should things change? Heck yes!
Will it happen soon? Probably not as fast as we would like.

The recent reform of the outdated Toxic Substance Chemical Act was signed on June 7th and gives us some hope that the EPA can eventually have some say in public health and environmental protection, but it will be slow!

In the meantime, it is up to us, we are the ones with the power to change, but as long as we keep burying our heads in the sand and pretending the elephant is really a mouse, the toxin laden products will keep appearing on the shelves, the pesticides will show up on your ‘organic’ products and the incidence of cancer, infertility, birth defects, neurotoxicity and diabetes will continue to rise.

Just as you have a choice who you vote for, you have a choice what you purchase.

blog, Toxic Free

REMOVING TOXINS, WHERE TO START?

 

When people are thinking about switching out toxic products from their homes, it’s hard to know what to do or where to start?

To start with, toxins are everywhere, so this is just intended to give an overview of the basics of what to consider and how to start checking out different products.

Decide WHY you want to remove the toxins from your home.

Maybe someone in your home is suffering from allergies,lack of energy, dizziness or breathing difficulties? Or has someone you know recently been diagnosed with cancer, are you concerned for your own health or has your child been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and it was recommended to you to limit exposure to artificial additives and chemicals?

Whatever the reason is that you are wanting to switch out your toxic products have it clear in your mind, this is the emotional part!

WHY? Because no matter what, change is hard especially when it comes to things that we have been using for years! I don’t know why we get emotionally attached to something as simple as shampoo, even after we know it is causing us harm! For me it was learning about all the dangerous chemicals in use and the lack of regulations which I have listed in Some facts about chemicals. I was stunned and knew I had to make changes.

 

You WILL notice differences. There are certain things that are specific to products that have chemicals, one would be a copious amount of bubbles. When you remove the sodium laurel sulphate which is commonly used because of its foaming abilities you don’t get as much lather, that can take some getting used to and it may feel like it is not working as well, don’t worry it is working just fine.

Toxic Free cleaning products will not smell as strongly and for some reason we associate the strong chemical smells with cleanliness. It’s a myth that you have to clean your home with industrial chemicals to get it clean, there are many less toxic products that will do the same job just as well. You may find that you were using several different products for a job where now you just need one and vice versa.

You may have a transition period when you switch out personal care products, deodorant is a good example. When switching to anti-perspirant, the emphasis is not so much on blocking the sweat as it is not having the odor. You may find it can take a couple of weeks to detox from your old product because your sweat glands have been blocked. If you keep in mind that there will be some  differences once you start switching out, it may deter you from running back to the store for the old favorites.

Decide WHERE you want to start.

There are different ways you can do this and it can be quite overwhelming to think about switching out the whole household at once, firstly because it is a humongous task and secondly can prove very costly. When you think about it, the list is endless of toxic products you are exposed to on a daily basis, from the personal care products to laundry detergents, dish soap and cleaning supplies. Remembering toxins from products enter the blood stream through the lungs, the mouth and the surface of the skin.

Consider starting with any one of the following:

Laundry supplies.

Dishwashing supplies.

Personal Care products.

Cosmetics.

Cleaning supplies.

Systematically go through each supply zone until you have switched out everything.

OR

Make a list of things you are getting low on that are currently on your shopping list and make a point to replace them with healthy products as you run out.

Personally I switched out gradually zone by zone starting with personal care products, then cosmetics, laundry, dishwashing and cleaning supplies.

It took me a little over 6 months before I was totally switched and as I replaced one section I threw out all the old supplies so I did not continue mixing them up. I could not make sense of using shampoo that was toxicfree and still using toxic toothpaste, I preferred to make a clean break of it.

However the choice is yours, what ever works for you, I would advise that as you buy a replacement product if you can, throw the toxic one out regardless if it is finished or not.

Decide WHICH products you want to switch out.

So how do you decide what to use instead? I know that there are more and more people who are resorting to making their own products. Both vinegar and baking soda do a wonderful job for cleaning and I regularly use distilled white vinegar in the rinse cycle of my laundry. For me, I personally don’t have the time or the energy to make all my own cleaning and laundry products but I totally admire those who do, more power to you!

To help you find manufactured products there are many different great websites that you can use to check different products for safety.

The one I really like is ewg.org. They have a very comprehensive, user friendly web site with consumer guides for personal care and cosmetics, cleaning supplies, water, food and sunscreen amongst other things.

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To navigate the EWG website

Start by selecting a category, for instance Healthy Cleaning Products.

You can choose to search the name of a product or select one of the top rated products from a particular category.

toxic free journey 10
If you choose to see the top rated products you can then select one of the product categories and a list will appear showing products rated A thru F, with A being the safest rating, F being the lowest rating.

You can then research each rating for the top products.

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If you choose to enter the name of a particular product, maybe one you are currently using, you can type in the name in the search bar and you will get a safety rating for that product.

EWG rates the products overall safety based upon its concern for asthma/respiratory, skin allergies and irritations, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer and the environment. There will also be a list of chemicals of concern for each product and the associated side effects.

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It is important to remember that labelling is not regulated, so even though you may have a product that states it is all natural and environmentally friendly, it may still rate poorly due to its chemical content. Organic does not mean chemical free and Natural means NOTHING!

Personal care products and cosmetics have their own similar guide. They are rated differently and are scored 0-10 with 0 being the safest, 10 the worst.

toxic free journey 13Remember, regulations for cosmetics and skin care are virtually non existent so be prepared to be surprised when you check your own products for safety. I was completely shocked that even some products that say they are physician approved have harmful chemicals in them.

Also for personal care products and cosmetics, there is an App called

‘Skin Deep’ that can be downloaded from the EWG website or the app store for easy access to product ratings while out shopping.

 

 

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Choosing products

This really is a case of personal preference depending upon where you like to shop and the availability of certain brands in your area.

Fortunately the availability of good products is increasing and there are more products available on line that you can have shipped to your door, I really like this option as it saves time in the grocery store.

Just be certain that you check the ratings of the products before you purchase. I look for A’s or B’s for cleaning products and 0-2 for personal care products.

Switching out products really is a process but once you begin it actually becomes simpler and you will find that you can replace many of your old products with just one. I actually have tried several different brands of products and have had great results with them all. I love the simplicity of multi purpose products that work, knowing my home is clean without chemicals, having one product that cleans the whole house means I don’t have a cupboard under the sink full of cleaning products.

Products I like? The Industry leader for toxicfree products is Linda Chae who has been formulating toxicfree products for different companies and educating the public on the dangers of toxic chemicals in products for many years. Linda is also the founder of the Toxicfree Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about toxic ingredients in products, food and other materials. The web site packed with lots of useful information that is simple to understand. http://thetoxicfreefoundation.com

toxic free journey 15I have personally used many of the Chae products from skin care to cleaning products and I have loved them all. They carry the Toxicfree seal which means they have had the most stringent testing available and are guaranteed to be safe from harmful chemicals.

I have tried other brands like Earth Friendly, BioKleen and Seventh Generation, but did find that even within one brand, individually the products rate differently so I always check on the EWG website first.

I hope this basic guide has been some help to start, it is a process! I would encourage you to be persistent, you are not only making a difference for your family but for the future generations to come.

If you are ready to dig deeper into living a toxic free lifestyle and are looking to explore ways to total wellness by finding balance and harmony in all areas of your life, then check out the packages available under the services tab or contact Penny for a private complimentary consultation by leaving your information on the contact page.

blog, Toxic Free

10 EASY STEPS TO LIMIT TOXIC EXPOSURE

We live in a chemical world and while there is definitely a place for industrial chemicals, the home should not be one of them!

There are many ways we are exposed to toxins in our environment, some things we have no control over, but there are many things that we do. We don’t often think that our home could actually be more toxic than the air outside so when I found out that a stay-at-home mom has a 54% higher chance of developing cancer than a mom who leaves the home for work, I was shocked! What on earth was in the home that was causing so many problems? Well, it seems that virtually everything in our homes has the potential to produce toxic effects over time, but there are some simple steps that we can take.

1/ Use chemical free cleaning and personal care products

This is probably one of the easiest ways to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in the home. Remember that skin exposure and inhalation can be more dangerous than ingestion! Daily repeated exposure to small amounts of chemicals over many years can have a compound effect so removing those harmful chemicals is really important. It may not be something that you will see today but you will benefit in the long run.

Start by checking out the CLEANING PRODUCTS that you are currently using on the EWG website link and look for healthier choices. You may be surprised to see that what you thought was healthy is in fact not!

You may have been Greenwashed!

toxic free 2With the average person being exposed to over 200 chemicals before they even leave the house in the morning, PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS are a big area for exposure! Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, hairspray, and cosmetics all contribute to our toxic load! Check out your products here using the skin deep guide and download the skin deep app onto your phone for easy access while out shopping.

 

 

2/ Dust and vacuum frequently

Keeping your home clean serves much more of a purpose than just looking nice in case you have a visitor! Have you heard of PBDE’s? Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are highly toxic flame retardant chemicals found in furniture and electronic equipment and are released into the air in our homes. These chemicals are inhaled or become attached to particles in the air and settle on all the surfaces. Several studies have found that these chemicals can affect thyroid and estrogen levels in animals. As you can imagine our kids are most at risk, because they love to be on the floor and I don’t know a kid that doesn’t touch everything in site! Whenever we touch a surface we are picking up those chemicals and they are absorbed through the skin or ingested. Using a Hepa filter vacuum and keeping your electronics and furniture surfaces free from dust by wiping them down with a damp cloth can greatly reduce your exposure.

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3/ Reduce exposure to BPA

Have you heard of BPA, Bisphenol A? Many people have because of the water bottle and baby bottle scare several years ago when it was revealed that this dangerous chemical was leaching into the liquids from the plastic containers. BPA is commonly found in all plastics and in the epoxy linings of canned goods and thermal cash register receipts! Why should you avoid it? BPA is thought to be a hormone disruptor, it mimics estrogen in the body and is also suspected to have an effect on the brain of the developing fetus. So, switching out your plastic for aluminum or glass is a great place to start, most stores are now carrying safe alternatives; check out replacement containers at kidskonserve.com, love them! Many companies are also offering BPA free canned goods, EWG.org has a comprehensive list of those companies that do and don’t, check on the link below. Lastly, try and avoid handling thermal cash register receipts, (mostly the ones that have the shiny toxic free 4finish). If you can get an email receipt, great, or
have them drop it in the bag, just avoid repeated handling which happens when we stuff them in our wallet! Caution to cashiers who are pregnant, good idea to wear protective gloves, studies have shown much higher levels of BPA after just 2 hours of handling receipts!

 

 

4/ Filter Your Water.

Extensive studies conducted by the EWG found that 45 states had contaminated drinking water. While local watetoxic free 5r companies do offer reports of water contaminants, levels of chemicals that are considered ‘safe’ have not been proven safe, they have just not been proven unsafe! Many people choose to use bottled water as an alternative to tap water but the biggest problem here is that most bottled water companies do not disclose the test quality of their water, and many have been found to be contaminated also! So, whats the answer? We have had a reverse osmosis filter for drinking water and a whole house soft water filter for years. I love knowing that we are drinking and showering in clean soft water and it certainly has saved from stains on the shower doors! But it comes down to your budget. The least expensive option for drinking water is a system at the faucet or a filter jug. A reverse osmosis system would be the next step and and whole house system actually removes  more chemicals and filters the water that you shower and wash you clothes in too. Check out this handy guide.

 

5/ Avoid Nonstick and waterproof finishes.

Non stick coatings containing PFC’s, perflourinated chemicals and are found everywhere from the kitchen to carpets to fast food to camping equipment. PFC’s even line the bags of popcorn!  Why to avoid? PFC’s have been linked to birth defects, obesity, kidney and testicular cancer! Not a nice chemical to have around although it is pretty much everywhere.

Best ways to avoid, limit fast food containers, avoid scotch guarding furniture, cook without those non stick Teflon pans and use stainless steel or aluminum.  More information? Check out this handy guide to avoid PFC’s

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6/ Avoid air fresheners and scented candles.

I have to admit, I was the queen of the Glade air fresheners! They were everywhere, two or three per room! And candles! Count me IN! I just loved to have my home smelling of vanilla and lavender, cinnamon and pine in the winter. That was before I found out that my efforts were polluting the very air we were breathing. Top of the ingredient list for both air fresheners and candles is fragrance which can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals, none of which have been tested for safety. Other ingredients may be phthalates which help the fragrance to last longer. Phthalates are on the list of the Dirty Dozetoxic free 7n Endocrine Disruptors and linked to male reproductive birth defects and allergies.  Check out this link for the Dirty Dozen! What is the alternative? Best candles would be beeswax, fragrance free if you love candles for ambiance. Auracacia makes an aromatherapy room diffuser for use with essential oils which may be a safer choice, or an essential oil vaporizer is an option if you like the therapeutic effects of your favorite oil. If it’s a smell you are trying to mask, best to eliminate the smell, empty the cat box or the garbage can and open the windows to let in some fresh air!

 

 

 

7/ Avoid lead based paints

For the large part, lead based paint is no longer seen in current construction after being banned from household paint in the US since 1978. Lead poisoning is especially dangerous to young children and has been linked to development delay, lower IQ, kidney damage and reproductive problems. It’s not actually the paint itself but the dust that is given off as the paint flakes with age or friction, often occurring during renovation of older properties. Special care needs to be taken when removing lead paint, there are qualified professionals who are trained to do this and limit your exposures.

toxic free 8When looking for fresh paint, think of your health and the environment! Check out the new Eco friendly paints that are out on the market with low to no VOC’s. Natural paints are derived from substances such as citrus and balsam, as well as minerals. Although these paints are made with natural materials and are petroleum-free, they often contain terpenes, which are VOCs derived from plants. However, natural paints do not off-gas biocides and fungicides.

Check out this handy guide from eartheasy.com

8/ Open Windows  

It’s estimated that people spend between 65 – 90% of their time indoors and that indoor pollution levels can be between 2 – 100 times higher than outdoor levels! Hard to believe sometimes when you consider air quality and pollution even in the inner cities.  The most common sources of pollutants are from inadequately vented heaters and appliances, off gassing of the chemical formaldehyde and VOC’s from construction materials, furniture, paints, solvents, preservatives and cleaners. All of these can cause minor to major problems from headaches, dizziness, nausea, allergies and respiratory problems and skin irritations to long term chronic illness from repeated exposure.

toxic free 9So, whats the answer? Ventilate your home! Open your windows whenever you can and let in the fresh air. Change HVAC filters frequently, use more natural wood furniture and less pressed particle board, choose fire retardant free furnishings and toxicfree cleaning products, don’t run the car in the attached garage and add a few indoor plants! The spider plant is a really hardy plant, easy to grow and actually sucks up pollutants from the environment.

 

 

 

9/ Take your shoes off at the door.

There is one sure way to find out how clean your floor is; Just put a white pair of socks on a toddler and let them run around for a while! It always amazes me how clean my floor looks until my granddaughter comes over!

In retoxic free 10ality it’s actually what is in the dirt that is more concerning. I remember my grandmother telling me that there’s nothing wrong with good old fashioned dirt. The problem is that with all the VOC’s in our environment today along with pesticides, heavy metals and bacteria there is nothing good about our dirt and all these can be tracked into the home on the bottom of your shoes.
Many pesticides and heavy metals are known carcinogens and are also neurotoxic so definitely not something you want to expose your kids to and they do spend a lot of time on the floor!  So start by making it a habit in your home to remove shoes at the door and that will encourage your visitors to do the same!

10/ Be aware of what you are putting next to your skin.

I thought this deserved a shout out all for itself, because it so often goes unnoticed. Fabrics are something that we all put next to our skin, 24 hours a day, every day, clothes, sheets and towels. What’s on them can get into us through the surface of the skin.

What to do:

  1. Always wash new garments before you were them. Many items are produced abroad and to protect them in the journey to the consumer they are treated with pesticides before they are packed. You want to make sure that this is not getting transferred directly to you!
  1. Wash clothing, bedding and towels in toxic free detergent and avoid fabric conditioner. People who have any kind of skin sensitivities, such as those with eczema or psoriasis would be well advised to remove chemical fragrance from their laundry. I know that we all love to have fragrance on our laundry but that fragrance is made up of hundreds of different chemicals, most of which have NOT been tested for safety. Not only are they being absorbed through the skin but inhaling those chemicals for long periods of time can have an adverse effect on your health.

I can say from personal experience that after a year of having removed many chemicals from our home, we stayed overnight with a friend who used fabric conditioner in her laundry. Within a few minutes of getting in between the sheets I could feel my throat starting to itch and it became more difficult to breathe. I realized then how desensitized I must have been to chemicals until I removed them from my home.

  1. Try to AVOID buying clothes that are dry clean only. During the dry cleaning process they use a dangerous solvent called PERC, perchloroethylene, which is anticipated to be a human carcinogen by several respected research groups. While highly toxic at high levels, even at low concentrations it can cause respiratory problems, dizziness, headaches and vision problems. So if you do have clothing dry cleaned hang it in a well ventilated area for up to a week before wearing it and if possible, avoid bringing it into the house altogether.