“It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like.”Jackie Mason
The plastic toys made for children are rich with phthalates, known to cause cancer. Many of the sippy cups made for babies are made with plastics which contain Bisphenol A (BPA), another carcinogen. Our mattresses, clothing, carpets, paint and furniture leech toxins into our homes. Even our MDF furniture is releasing formaldehyde into our homes. The little toilet block which smells lovely is horribly toxic and poisoning us every time we use the bathroom. The dishwashing powder is making us ill, the dishwashing liquid is suppressing our immune systems, the pest treatment from 6 months ago is leeching into our organs. Every time we have a shower we are breathing in chloride and fluoride from the steamy water. Our shampoo and conditioner are nothing but lovely smelling chemicals, our soap is the same.
The fruit and vegetables we buy are sprayed with carbendazim and endosulfan- both known to cause infertility, genetic abnormalities, illness and poisoning. The tinned foods available in supermarkets are in cans lined with BPA rich plastics. The plastics our food are packaged in are also often BPA plastic. The cardboard boxes are treated with chemicals to deter pests. Our meats are gassed so they look pinker, or even flushed with ammonia to kill lethal bacteria which are a result of antibiotic use in animals.
From the moment our babies are born, they are exposed to toxins everywhere. If your baby is born at a hospital, in the moments after birth they are exposed to huge amounts of toxins. The gloves on the doctor or midwife's hands are exuding phthalates. The blanket or towel used to rub them down has been chemically treated to remove all bacteria, bodily waste and stains. The stethoscope used to check their heartbeat has been doused with antibacterial chemicals to ensure no cross-contamination. The floor has been mopped with chemicals, the air coming through the cooling system has passed through chemical treatment plants to ensure there is no bacteria. The staff are leaving chemical trails everywhere they go from the detergents they use in their washing machines and the fabric softeners which are designed to make us feel more comfortable. The waterproof mattress is giving off phthalates as you hold your baby close to you, waiting for it to latch on and have its first suckle at your breast- where it will receive an amazing dose of antibodies and the best food available- except your breastmilk contains chemicals too!
More and more people are developing allergies, sensitivities, illnesses. More and more adults are getting repeatedly sick from simple common viruses and developing cancers. More and more children are diagnosed with learning difficulties, Autism Spectrum disorders, suppressed immune systems, the inability to fight off a cold.
Is it a huge leap to consider that perhaps chemicals are negatively impacting on our health so dramatically? The evidence against chemicals is stacking up, and the companies selling them aren't going to withdraw their products or suggest you buy something less toxic. Our governments aren't doing anything about it. Saving energy is a worth-while goal, but nobody has started to take steps to save lives.
So how do you combat it? What difference can you make in your own home, and your own community?
Here are some simple steps to help you change the amount of chemicals in your home:
►Buy organic wherever possible. Some larger chains now sell organic items at prices similar to conventional items, but check they are certified by an organic certification body. Organic food not only means less pesticides going into the bodies in your home, it also reduces the chemicals used to produce your food. Look at farmer's markets and places with large amounts of organic produce so you aren't paying triple for organic items.
►Water filters which remove fluoride and chlorine will help improve your thyroid function and give your body a chance to detox. Fluoride is highly toxic and replaces iodine in the body which has helped create the generation of iodine-deficient people we see now. If you think fluoride is good for your teeth, brush well with a fluoride toothpaste all you like, but spit it out and rinse well. (Looking into the difference between sodium fluoride and calcium fluoride might change your mind on how useful fluoride toothpaste is.)
►buy environmentally friendly, greywater safe, biodegradable detergents for your dishes and clothing. Fabric softeners are highly toxic and release fumes which are carcinogenic. Lavender oil added to the rinse has the same nice smelling effect without the chemicals.
►Don't use soap or body care products on your baby unless it's necessary. Choose organic products with natural ingredients where possible. Baby products are often filled with petrochemicals and phthalates.
Body-care products containing phthalates are a source of exposure for infants. The authors of a 2008 study "observed that reported use of infant lotion, infant powder, and infant shampoo were associated with increased infant urine concentrations of [phthalate metabolites], and this association is strongest in younger infants. These findings suggest that dermal exposures may contribute significantly to phthalate body burden in this population."►choose Sodium Laureth Sulphate free shampoos and conditioners, and look at the ingredients on every soap or wash you buy. If it isn't derived from nature or has a lot of hydroxy-sounding huge names on it, don't buy it. Consider using sodium bicarb to wash your hair and rinse with Apple Cider vinegar
►Save yourself money and use bicarbonate soda and vinegar to clean your home. Add some Lavender and Tea Tree oil on occasion if you like- they are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and they smell nice too.
►Don't use pesticides or insecticides in your home at all. Fly screens are more effective than fly spray, and those annoying flies that get in are easily dealt with using a rolled up newspaper, or two magazines slapped together.
►Throw out your disinfectants and use tea tree oil instead. Disinfectants kill the tiny germs which we need to help build our immune systems up.
►Air freshers are chemicals which mask odours, are toxic and have been proven to cause respiratory problems in children and adults. Essential oils are a much better option, mixed with water in a spritzer bottle.
►Choose toys made from natural materials for your children where possible. Wooden toys are also wonderful heirloom pieces to pass on to future generations.
►Look for BPA free plastics for cups, plates and bowls for children. Make sure your baby's cups and bottles aren't made from plastic containing Bisphenol A (#3,#6 and #7).
►Check how old the toys in your home are and throw out old toys which are releasing phthalates.
Even just eliminating some chemicals from your home will not only help your family, but it will have a long-term effect on the environment and the waterways. The chemical run-off from your home will be minimised and by using less chemicals you are decreasing the amount of carbon used to manufacture these chemicals and transport it to point of sale.
I know many people with multiple chemical sensitivity. I can only see this becoming more prevalent as we add more chemicals to our world and to our homes. What we often fail to see is how huge an impact we can make on our immediate environment, and in the long-term, the world. Every time you use a natural product you are reducing the need for chemicals and reducing the toxicity in our world. Each and every time you leave the supermarket without buying chemicals, you are making a statement to them and helping shape future buying habits. The more organic, natural products we choose, the more supplies stores will ship in for purchase, and the more people who might see them on the shelves and reach for them instead of the chemical cousin.
Whenever we practice a process which benefits people, we normalise it. When your friends and family see you using organic products, it encourages them to choose differently too. You can make a huge impact- not only on your health, but on the health of your family, your friends, your community, the community where these products are manufactured, and the world in general.
“Does wisdom perhaps appear on the earth as a raven which is inspired by the smell of carrion?” ~Friedrich Nietzsche