Home Safe Home: Ten Toxic Targets

February 2009
It can be overwhelming to detoxify your home, but if you have young children and are of childbearing age, it will most likely be an anxiety-provoking priority of yours. Where to start? What to do? What to believe? I recommend you pay attention to these Top Ten Toxic Targets in your home. Are there more? Yes, but by attending to these you can rest assured that you will reduce the overall toxic load of your home, and your health and your families will benefit as a result. You can attend to additional targets when you have the time.
1.       Cleaning: Switch to less toxic cleaning, and cleaning with products that have “Signal Words” on the labels of no stronger than a “Caution” and/or products certified by Green Seal (similar to the products Maid Brigade uses).
2.       Plastic:   Start your reduction of plastic by eliminating polycarbonate plastics, those hard plastics many baby bottle and some water bottles are made from. They contain bisphenol-A, a plasticizer known to cause reproductive and behavioral disorders. Next, stop using any plastic in the microwave. Third, buy stainless steel water bottles to replace commonly available bottled water and fill with home-filtered water.
3.       Pesticides: Just say “no” to pesticides and herbicides, and do internet searches for effective, natural remedies to problems. For serious infestations search your local area for a pest control business that offers truly safe pesticide treatments, such as using heat, cold or other harmless methods. Choose natural lawn and garden care. Most commercial pesticides are known to affect the central nervous system, especially children’s, whose bodies are still developing.
4.       Food Dyes: The UK has come out with a study linking food colorings and additives (http://www.wellbeingjournal.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=84) to hyperactivity in children. This does not apply only to children with ADHD, though the hyperactivity is heightened in these children. The negative effect on behavior can lead to aggression and lack of concentration on schoolwork. Read labels!
5.       Fragranced Products: Synthetic fragrances are made up of a chemical soup of petrochemical ingredients, sometimes as many as 400 different chemicals making up one fragrance. The more you reduce fragrances, the fewer neurotoxic chemicals in your home! Buy laundry detergents and fabric softeners that are “free and clear,” of fragrances and choose personal care products scented with essential oils, not “fragrance.”
6.       Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde Is classified by the government as a human carcinogen. It is commonly found in pressed wood and particle board. Look at your cabinets, furniture, subflooring, and more, to isolate the places where wood chips are glued together. My favorite treatment for this problem is avoidance and if you have pre-existing kitchen cabinets, for example, that are made of pressed wood, seal them in using an AFM sealant. (htpp://www.afmsafecoat.com) Formaldehyde is also present in floor polishes and even some popular pet shampoos and baby washes.
7.      Moth balls/Dry Cleaning Garment Care: Moth balls and dry cleaning made of perchloroethylene are both suspected human carcinogens. Use herbal sachets and cedar to repel clothing moths, and have your clothes dry cleaned at a store that either wet cleans or uses CO2 dry cleaning methods. Never hang dry cleaned clothes in your bedroom ad remove the plastic bag as soon as possible to allow cloths to ventilate
8.       Lead: Make sure you test your home for lead. Lead was included in paint until 1978. If you find lead consult with experts for the best remediation techniques for your home.
9.       Water Contamination: I believe that everybody should have a water filter these days, no matter where you live. Research the best water filters for your home, noting that municipal water requires different filters than well water. Municipal water has been treated for bacteria and so you need to be able to remove the treatment chemicals, but if you have well water you need to be able to remove the bacteria.
10.   Solvent-based Products: What do nail polish, paint strippers, liquid furniture polish and smelly magic markers all have in common? They are made with solvents, most likely highly toxic petroleum distillates. Replace all with water-based ingredients.
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