More and more people are proactively removing unnecessary and potentially harmful chemicals from the home. There are a number of good reasons to do this. Many of these toxic chemicals end up in our community's ground water and can influence our ecosystem, agriculture and drinking water. The medical community has also noticed a rise in chemical sensitivities and other instances where chemical exposure is hurting our immune systems. Homes with children and/or pregnant women need to be extra vigilant that toxins are limited. Pound for pound, babies and children absorb, drink and eat more chemicals than adults. To further complicate the issue, children's bodies are still developing, and chemicals can dramatically influence that process. Likewise pregnant women and even nursing mothers need to limit chemical exposure as these chemicals will be passed along to the infant.
But what can you do? In this modern age toxic products in the home have become the norm. They are easy to find, aggressively advertised and often on special at our local super market. It is nearly impossible to remove every chemical from our household. (Actually, it is possible, but also challenging and not always practical.) That said... there are simple changes you can make to dramatically reduce household toxic chemicals without hurting your budget or becoming an anti-chemical zealot.
There are 2 key areas where you can target to eliminate toxic products from the home: bath and beauty and general cleaning agents. (Food could also be a category all its own, but merits its own blog post.) Before we delve into these categories, it would be best to start with a general rule of thumb...
Look for red flags. When selecting products for the home, read the label carefully. Look for 'signal words' that indicate high risk. Signal words to watch out for include 'caution,' 'warning,' 'danger', and 'poison.' Trust us, manufacturers don't put these terms on the label because they are benevolent. These are legal obligations based of FDA regulations and subsequent liability. Warning, danger and poison are the biggest red flags. Caution is a bit of a gray area and can simply address common sense recommendations, as in: 'Caution - do not set this product on fire and leave the room.' Cautions are usually less insidious, though still worth noting.
Bath and Beauty Products