How Toxic is your Environment?

Have you ever wondered what could be causing those headaches you get? Why you feel lethargic and tired even though you have had a good nights sleep? What is causing that strange rash that appeared on your child’s legs or why does your spouse always sound wheezy?

For the last two years I have been getting educated about the dangers of toxic chemicals that are IN our homes, in our living environments! In the water, the day to day personal care and cleaning products, our clothing, the air and our furniture, things that we are exposed to everyday.

Now you would think that considering that I have been an RN for the last 38 years you would think I would have some knowledge about this! NOT!

True, I knew about the dangers of asbestos and to stay away from lead based paint, I knew that bleach burned your skin and to keep it away from your eyes! I knew all the obvious stuff.

It was what I didn’t know that was more alarming!

It was the dangers that were hidden in plain sight.

How Toxic is Your Environment2I actually never gave much thought to the fact that when I put  a lotion on my skin, within 26 seconds the ingredients were actually getting absorbed into my blood stream; and I had no clue that those same products could contain chemicals that may seriously be harming my health? It never occurred to me that the shampoo I was using could possibly contribute to me having memory loss in the future!

Actually, I might have carried on totally unaware except for the fact I was searching for ‘natural’ products for my new Granddaughter. I wanted to buy the best I could find but I had no clue what to look for! I was totally confused. I started in the health food stores where the shelves were full of pretty bottles decorated with cute babies and flowers, each saying they were the best and made with natural and organic ingredients. What did that mean exactly? I’m going to pay $36 for a bottle of shampoo, I really want to know it is everything they say it is!

Then someone introduced me to the Environmental Working Group and oh boy! I learned a lot! Did you know that the cosmetics industry is ‘self regulated and self financed’ and the laws surrounding toxic substances are outdated and were written in 1976? I didn’t.

How Toxic is Your Environment3

I was completely shocked when I learned about the potential harm these toxic ingredients could be having on our health and how uneducated we are as health care professionals and consumers! Why are dangerous chemicals being freely used in our everyday products yet those same chemicals are banned for use in products in other countries? Why did I not know this stuff? Why are the standards here in the USA so lax?

I also learned that NATURAL means NOTHING and that there are no marketing regulations surrounding how a company advertises it’s products. They can actually label a product  environmentally friendly even though may have potentially harmful chemicals in it!

How Toxic is Your Environment4Probably the most important thing I found out was that the term Non-Toxic does not mean that it is safe and free from harmful chemicals. It’s all to do with the amount of chemicals in the product and how long it takes the test subjects to die!

So a product you may be using can legally have harmful chemicals that may not be lethal if you are just using that one product!

The problem is that with over 85,000 chemicals in use in the USA today, there’s a good chance you are being exposed to that same chemical in several different products. There is also no research to support how harmful the combination of many different chemicals can be from all the products we use on a daily basis. Its estimated that the average American male is exposed to about 200 different chemicals before they leave the house in the morning and for a female using cosmetics, that can rise to over 500.

One of the best resources I was introduced to was the ‘Skin Deep App’ from The Environmental Working Group,  they do a really good job with easy to read information to educate the consumer. I used their consumer guides and found that the products I had been using for years, thinking they were the best on the market, actually had some chemicals in them that had been shown in studies to be extremely harmful. I used the information to make some major changes by replacing some of the toxic products from our home.

I began to read labels and not just choose products because they matched the decor in the bathroom. I’ll be quite honest, this was a process. When you have been using one product for years its hard to accept a change, you wonder will these other products work as well? How can I clean without chemicals? I actually think it was harder for my husband until I told him that there were no herbs in the well known shampoo he couldn’t part with!

During this process I began to share the information with friends and family and found that I was not alone! There were so many people who I knew who also had no clue. One of the biggest obstacles I found was that there is so much information and not everyone wants to be like me, cruising around the internet looking for ways to clean their toilet without chemicals! So I started a list which developed into a little guide for anyone who is interested! 10 easy steps to limit chemical exposure in your home. This is not to a comprehensive list of everything there is available! This is meant as a quick start guide for anyone who like me had no idea where to start:-)