Readers of this blog will have picked up a hundred bits of information about the many toxic chemicals to which we are commonly exposed, and what actions they can take to avoid exposure to such toxics – thereby having healthier lives. However, in the hustle and stress of everyday life, it’s hard to remember these innumerable pieces of health information. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to give readers an overview. Fortunately, two prestigious organizations have provided overviews: The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the Silent Spring Institute.
UCSF published online an excellent summary: Protecting Our Families from Toxic Substances. (www.prhe.ucsf.edu/prhe/toxicmatters.html.) They emphasize that the largest danger is to the unborn. “Developing fetuses, infants, children, pre-teens and teenagers are especially at risk. Being exposed to even small amounts of toxic substances during important times of development can lead to disease later in life.” They summarize things to do.
- Don’t smoke – obviously
- Use non-toxic personal care products; read the labels
- Use VOC-free paints
- Eat fish that are safe from mercury – see Monterey Aquarium list
- Don’t use pesticides in your garden
- Don’t spray bugs in the house
- Take off your shoes, to avoid tracking in chemicals
- Don’t dry-clean your clothes
- Pick your plastics carefully – don’t use PVC or PC containers
- Avoid foods contaminated with pesticides – see the list by Beyond Pesticides
- Test your home for radon – check with your state EPA office
The Silent Spring Institute gives over thirty specific recommendations for reducing exposure to harmful chemicals. (www.silentspring.org/tooclosetohome) Following is a summary; detailed information for each category can be found by clicking on the category.
- Cancer-causing phthalates were found in all homes tested.
- Several types of phthalates are found in many home products
- Plastics in food packaging can leach hormone-disrupting chemicals
- Eating fresh food lowers the body levels of BPA.
- Food packaging (e.g., cans) is a major source of BPA.
- Vinyl pillow protectors have high concentrations of phthalates.
- Residues of flame retardants are found in most homes.
- Everyday products can contain undisclosed, potentially harmful chemicals.
- House dust contains flame retardants, hormone disruptors and carcinogens.
- Consumer products with fragrances had the largest number of chemicals.
- Women who reported the highest use of cleaning products had twice the risk of breast cancer.
- Mold and mildew removers may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
In addition to these excellent sources of information, you can click on one of the tags in this site to go to blog articles dealing with the topic. Of course, for comprehensive information you can consult my book, Healthy Living in a Contaminated World, 2nd edition, available from Amazon.
Above all, don’t despair – being informed and taking simple precautionary actions can free your life of chronic debilitating diseases and greatly lower your chances of cancer.