Did you know your food is laced with all kinds of man-made chemicals? Pesticides and preservatives, plastic packaging and food storage containers, non-stick coatings – all of these chemicals seep into the food you eat on a daily basis.
Did you know that your skin is like a giant sponge? The body absorbs many of the ingredients we put on our skin, directly into the blood stream. These can then take up residence in our major organs like the kidneys, liver, and brain, where they are stored and accumulate in our bodies for years. It is estimated that women put between 150-250 chemicals on their skin before they walk out the door every morning. For men it is around 150. Add that up over a year: 150 chemicals a day x 365 days = 54,750! It adds up quickly – and that’s just through your skin.
Then add environmental toxins from the workplace, air and water pollution, chemicals our food and cooking implements, furniture, house cleaners, etc.
We literally have a toxic soup of chemicals we use and wear all day long, day after day, year after year!
There are now over 84,000 chemicals being used in everyday items, including food, skin care products, fabrics, paints, couches and more, most of which haven’t been studied for safety. Approximately 1% have been tested for long term use. 99% have not! Some have even been tested and found to contain harmful chemicals, and yet have not been banned. A couple of examples:
- Tattoo inks: tattoo inks contain heavy metals and other components that may dangerous. After being tattooed, over time, some of these particles can be found in your lymph nodes as your body attempts to filter them out. Additionally, some of the new inks have not been around long enough to know what they will do to your body in 30-40 years. Not to create fear, but look at asbestos, lead, and mercury – these used to be considered safe! I know tattoos are a huge trend right now, but please do some research before you get inked.
- Dryer sheets or Downy Unstoppables: a recent study measured the pollutants coming out of the dryer vent after using a variety of these fabric scent products. Seven toxic carcinogens (cancer causers) were found. This means these same toxins can be found in your nice-smelling, freshly dried clothes… And are inevitably absorbed by your skin when you wear them.
- Cosmetics: while not actually containing formaldehyde, they contain chemicals that release formaldehyde (a known carcinogen). I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I want to be chemically preserved by wearing formaldehyde!
Some concerning health facts that may be linked to everyday chemicals:
- Childhood cancers and leukemia are on the rise, despite better health care and nutrition.
- Infertility, reproductive problems, learning and developmental disabilities have increased.
- Incidences of autism continue to grow. From 2004 -2018, researchers found a shocking 181% rise. 1 in 64 children born are now born with autism. 40 years ago in was 1 in 1000 or less. Scientists are now starting to look at manmade chemicals as the possible culprit.
- The age of puberty for females has been decreasing.
- In the 1700s, the average age of puberty for girls was 17-19
- In 1860, it was 16 years old
- In 2016 in was 10 years old
- Increased rates of infertility and birth defects
Chemicals and toxicity levels
Many people and scientists argue that these chemicals are not toxic in low doses. That the amount of these chemicals in our everyday food and products is very low. The problem is that, when determining toxicity levels, chemicals are tested in isolation. They DON’T take into consideration the interaction with the other chemicals present in the product OR the 84,000 other chemicals we are absorbing and ingesting on a daily basis. A recent study found that some chemicals considered non-carcinogenic on their own may become carcinogenic when interacting with each other. It is also important to take into account the accumulation of chemicals in the body over time.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)
Scientists suspect that EDCs are responsible for the decrease in the age of puberty. They are also linked to birth defects, lower sperm count, infertility, diabetes, poor memory, poor metabolism, poor growth, cardio diseases and cancer. Found in almost all households, they EDCs can be found in:
- Pesticides on our fruits and vegetables
- Fire retardants in our clothing, curtains, sofas
- Phthalates found in plastics and air fresheners
- BPA found on receipts, cell phone protectors
- Perchlorate found in our water due to use as a fertilizer
- PFC found in non-stick frying pans (99% of americans now have this in their bodies)
- Arsenic found in air pollution
- Dioxins, found in meat and stored in fat for years
- Glycol ethers, found in household cleaners
- Mercury, found in fish and the new compact flourescent light (CFL) bulbs. You know, the tube light bulbs that we all use to replace the old round ones. Turns out they are extremely dangerous if broken and should never be disposed of in your garbage! In fact if broken, immediately evacuate any children, pregnant women, and babies. Open windows and do not touch the broken glass. Check out this article for more info on the dangers of CFL bulbs.
What can I do to avoid EDCs?
- get a filter for your water
- wash your vegetables and fruit before eating
- buy organic when possible – when we support organic, the big producers see their profits go down, and eventually they may start paying attention.
- Fire retardant:
- don’t buy “flame resistant “ pajamas for your kids
- make sure the batteries in your smoke detector work
- for couches and household items, vaccuum often reducing the chemical dust, which is where much of the danger comes from for children and babies.
- replace or repair damaged furniture covers that contain foam from furniture or mattresse
- avoid plastics where possible
- use glass instead for storing food
- buy BPA-free plastics
- avoid using to many tinned food (cans are lined with BPA plastic)
- try not to microwave foods in plastic
- Perchlorate in water
- buy a water filter
- switch to cast iron. They really are a great pan once you get used to them!
- Arsenic in air pollution
- unfortunately there are no easy solutions to this one.
- Dioxins in meat
- if you can afford it, buy local and organic meat. There are lots of local producers now
- split the cost of a hormone free cow with a friend and have it butchered. Your organic beef will end up costing you the same as regular grocery store beef.
- Glycol ethers in cleaners
- Make your own cleaners. They are easy to make, safer for you, your family and the environment. Check out some of our recipes in our blog!
- Use vinegar and salt instead of brass cleaner.
- Use baking soda to clean grime off tubs, showers, etc instead of powdered or chemical spray cleaners
- if you eat a lot of fish, consider cutting back to keep your mercury levels down, especially larger, predatory fish that are higher in the food chain.
- avoid using CFL bulbs or ensure you’re using and disposing of them safely
Big money misinformation and misdirection
Because the large corporations who produce the chemicals and everyday products are keen to protect their profits, it can be very difficult to find reliable information. I checked out this website https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/website/ thinking I would get an unbiased view. Turns out this website is run by the American Chemistry Council who is made up of the top chemical producers in the world. Do you really think you are going to get true, unbiased information? The first few paragraphs had reduced the number of chemicals to 7700. After researching, I found no statistics to back up their numbers. They appear to be trying to make it look like everyone else is exaggerating and biased against the chemical companies. Don’t fall for it.