Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you spend 80-90% of your time in a location that can be 5-10 times more polluted than being outdoors…
Where is that?
Reports published by this federal agency, reveal that you and most Americans spend around 21 hours indoors, every day... and without knowing it, you are exposing yourself to literally hundreds of toxins that build up, concentrate and compound, and which can end up seriously compromising your health.
But there’s another shocking statistic: The worst offender is your home.
The EPA says some homes can be up to 100x more toxic than even polluted outside air.
Experts say the air quality in your home can deteriorate simply because of small things you do on a daily basis.
But it’s not ALL about the air. Toxins take many forms. For example, did you know that the average woman applies over 168 chemicals to her body at every day!?
That’s a high number of toxins absorbed directly through your skin… but it doesn’t take into account hundreds of other toxins that come from your home environment—household cleaners, furniture, carpets, floors, paint, building materials, fragrances, organic matter... even your food.
All these toxins can have a combined effect. In 2004 the British Medical Journal reported, “It is clear that environmental and lifestyle factors are key determinants of human disease, accounting for perhaps 75% of most cancers.” Some experts estimate that the majority of Americans hold approximately 400 and 800 chemicals stored within their bodies, usually in their fat cells.
The effects of exposure to environmental toxins can be difficult to identify, which is why it can be so easy to dismiss them as the source of chronic or intermittent illness.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), does screen some products, but the limits of their standards and regulatory authority (largely controlled by Congress) mean that consumers are left with the burden of responsibility to become self-educated, and read product information, consumer reports, and any other resource available.
So how do you know where YOUR home falls on the scale of indoor pollution and toxins?
Here’s a list of 7 common toxins to look out for, so you can avoid them.
Most famous for being one of the first forms of anesthesia, you may not expect this chemical to be on this list.
Chloroform is a toxic, naturally-occurring, and synthetically made chemical that is used in several industries.
Research has connected chloroform exposure to increased cancer risk, fatigue, headaches, kidney and liver damage, birth defects, heartbeat irregularities, and reproductive system damage.
Naturally-occurring chloroform is formed when the chlorine added to the public water supply mixes with organic matter. It enters your environment via your home, food, swimming pools, and from air pollution.
In your home, scientists say that water vapor from chlorinated water contains chloroform. This is especially true when this water is hot, as with showers, baths, cooking, laundry, and dishwashing. It can ALSO enter your body from drinking chlorinated water, and by consuming food washed and produced with tap water.
2. Phthalates and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
These industrial compounds have many uses in our homes, offices, hospitals, and in our personal care products. Phthalates are primarily used to strengthen plastics, soften PVC, and enhance the life of fragrances. They are also used as solvents in many consumer products, including cosmetics.
With a wide variety of toxic qualities even in low doses, phthalates can damage the lungs, liver, kidneys, and reproductive system. They have been seen to mimic hormones and cause birth defects.
Unfortunately, we are exposed to phthalates through everyday products such as toys, shower curtains, beauty products, car seats, plastic wrap, flooring, plastic bottles and food storage containers, and even wallpaper. Medical care also poses a risk or exposure, because PVC is used in medical devices, including IV tubing and bags. Globally, 40 million tonnes of PVC are produced annually.
Pesticides are chemicals used to kill things that affect optimal plant growth. This includes weeds, insects, and funguses. The EPA says that 90% of fungicides are known carcinogens. The same is true of 60% of herbicides and 30% of insecticides.
Pesticides have also been connected to damage to the central nervous system (CNS) and kidneys, Parkinson’s disease, miscarriage, birth defects, and even blocking the absorption of food nutrients. Besides cancer, one of the most worrying effects of pesticides may be the growing evidence of endocrine (hormone) disruption.
You may think that the dangers of pesticides only affects those that deal with them directly, such as farmers or gardeners, but actually many estimates say that residues from various pesticides have been detected in up to 95% of foods in the United States!
With competing agendas (aka it can depend on who is paying for it), research data on this issue can be controversial. The University of Washington’s School of Public Health reported that a study “with a nationally representative sample showed increasing odds of ADD/ADHD for 8-15 year olds with increasing levels of OP pesticides metabolites in urine.”
In contrast, they asserted, “In one study, children were switched from conventional to organic diets. Urinary concentration of the OP pesticide metabolite immediately dropped so low it was undetectable. When a conventional diet resumed, urine concentration of the OP metabolite increased to previous levels.”
There are several fruits and vegetables that are known to absorb more pesticides than others. They are known as the “Dirty Dozen.”
Sweet Bell Peppers
The following 15 fruits and vegetables are considered safer, because they do not contain or absorb as much pesticides:
There are a growing number of studies to support the merely logical idea that any animal that is fed products containing pesticides will also absorb them. Thus, eating these animal products exposes us even more. This would include things like butter, eggs, cheese, and meat.
4. Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are prevalent in our environment and in our homes. These include lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.
These toxins can leak into your body and build up in the brain if your immune system is compromised, your kidneys are not functioning properly, or if you have leaky gut.
Research shows that heavy metals increase levels of chemically-altered molecules called ROS (reactive oxygen species) in the brain. ROS cause damage to brain cells, including cell aging and death.
ROS are also considered a factor in the early development of Alzheimer’s.
By design, your body can filter out excessive heavy metals. However, if your organs or drainage systems are not working optimally, or if there is a build up of heavy metals in your body, your body may struggle to expel them efficiently. This can lead to them being absorbed into soft tissues.
Excessive heavy metals can even create an imbalance in your gut. Compromised gut health has also been connected to a variety of diseases, including cancer, as well as to decreasing brain function, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Sources include your drinking water, vaccines, paints, pesticides, antiperspirant, dental fillings, seafood, prescription medications, household products, air pollution, treated wood, cosmetics, lotions, and fragrances.
5. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
PBDEs are flame-retardant chemicals used on clothing, furniture, carpets, bedding, drapes, as well as household electronics and appliances. They have been in wide use for more than 30 years, but are being phased out globally. Unfortunately, many are still used in the United States and Canada.
Even the EPA admits that “Since PBDEs are not chemically bound to the products in which they are used, they can easily migrate into the surrounding air, dust, soil, and water.”
They also report that “the presence of PBDEs in house dust and in foods are both important contributors to PBDE exposures for people of all ages, and that exposures from house dust are generally greater than those from food.”
In addition, “PBDEs are persistent chemicals that accumulate in fat tissue, so they are commonly found in foods derived from animals.”
No surprise then that in a 2003-2004 study, one or more form of PBDE was found in 99% of people tested.
These toxins are known hormone (endocrine) disruptors. Studies have shown that children and developing fetuses are especially at risk.
There is increasing animal research that links PBDEs to hearing deficits, behavioral changes, permanent learning and memory impairment, decreased sperm count, and cancer.
Dioxins have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, thyroid dysfunction, birth defects, developmental problems in children, reproductive disorders, rash, increased death from cardiovascular disease, immune system damage, alterations in liver function, changes in eye function, higher serum lipid and cholesterol, and an even higher risk of diabetes.
Dioxins are extremely toxic chemicals that are everywhere in the environment. They are formed in nature by fire and volcanoes, but the advance of industry has dramatically multiplied the presence and concentrations, worldwide. The U.S. has the highest levels.
Dioxins are what is called a ‘persistent’ toxin, meaning they do not biodegrade well and therefore remain in the environment for a long time.
Dioxins are released through commercial or municipal waste incineration, backyard burning of trash or debris, smelting, chlorine bleaching of pulp and paper, production of pesticides and herbicides and other chemical processes, the dismantling and recycling of electronic products, and the use of fuels, such as wood, coal, or oil. Small amounts are found in cigarette smoke. Drinking water can also become contaminated by dioxins.
Some experts estimate that 95% of human exposure to dioxins comes from animal products. Fish are especially vulnerable, and the bioaccumulation creates dioxin levels 100,000 times that of their surrounding environment. It’s important to remember that many commercial animal feeds include fish. But even so, dioxins that make their way into the food chain from the environment are stored in animal fat, making dairy products as well as beef, poultry, fish, and pork all sources of these dangerous toxins.
7. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are chemicals present in solids and liquids that easily vaporize and turn into gases. You are exposed to them through the air and your skin.
VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, eye, throat or respiratory irritation, vision problems, nausea, fatigue, loss of coordination, and memory impairment.
Chronic exposure to VOCs increases your risk of cancer, as well as damage to your liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.
Concentrations of VOCs are often 10 times higher indoors. They are extremely common in homes, due to the large number of sources.
Of the 400-plus VOC compounds identified in the home, 200 of them are found in carpeting.
Other sources of these toxins are furnishings, paints, pressed wood and plywood, particleboard, cleaning liquids, new plastics, varnish, shampoo and other cosmetics, air fresheners, burning of tobacco products, wood, electronics, moth repellent, and dry cleaning.
How To Avoid and Overcome the Toxic Overload
It can be disheartening to realize you have almost nowhere to go in order to avoid toxins in your daily life, food, and home.
But, there ARE things you can do to lower your exposures and give your body a fighting chance.
Be a savvy consumer. Know the most common toxins and their sources
Find alternatives whenever possible
Mitigate the hazard as appropriate (limit exposure, use filters, buy organic, etc) or do without the product entirely
Regularly ventilate your home, especially during the colder months
We’ll explore more detailed ways to reduce your risk and detoxify your home in a coming article, but right now…
One of the best things you can do to help your body properly eliminate all these damaging toxins at the cellular level that build up in your body and cause such health chaos is by following a comprehensive detoxification protocol.