Toxins can be separated into two distinct categories: Chemical Toxins and Organic Toxins. A chemical toxin is one that is derived from a non-organic source and can be found in items such as paint, pesticides or cleaning products. An Organic toxin is one that is derived from organic sources such as the venom of a plant or medications. Toxins can effect the whole body, or a substructure such as an organ or a cell. A central concept in toxicology is that toxins are dose dependent, meaning that there are levels below a detectable toxic effect, and as your exposure increases, so does your risk in sickness to your body.
Along with my five other goals in maintaining my families wellness, reducing our toxic load was an important part in creating a healthy home, and in turn a healthy body. Here are five common household items that I found in my home that once researched, I decided to toss out and replace with essential oils. The reason I say essential oils is because my first attempt to make our home safer was to go out and purchase similar products with the label that said “Natural”. That will do it right? Not so fast! When researching different toxins in the home, a few studies found that these "natural" products contained the same toxic compounds that their “non-natural” cousins had. How could that be? Well it turns out that there is no regulation on natural products. They could be the very same thing I didn’t want in my home with the only difference being a “natural” sticker on the front to make me feel all warm and fuzzy. With that said here is my top five list with what we now use.
5 Toxic Products
Chemical: Phthalates (Thal-ates)
Why you should care: Air fresheners contain phthalates which is a hazardous chemical that when released into the air can be inhaled or absorbed. Once in the blood stream they are known to alter hormone levels and cause many other health related problems. It is often covered under the guise of “fragrance” but may also be listed in the ingredients. The NRDC tested 14 common air fresheners which did not list phthalates on the ingredients and discovered 86% (12 out of 14) contained phthalates. Some were even labeled “all-natural” and “unscented”.
What to use instead: I was so bummed when I found out that I had to toss my beloved candles and air fresheners that I had grown to love! But with every end there is a new beginning, and that is where my essential oils came into play. I bought my first diffuser and diffused whatever I was in the mood for. What was even more exciting for me was that essential oils had unique properties that supported my health on a cellular level by… detoxing!! When the body is overwhelmed by excess toxins, the liver will safeguard organs by insulating toxins in fat cells. Essential oils assist in releasing toxins from fat cells, breaking them down, and flushing them out. Now my house still smells wonderful, and I’m helping my family detoxify.
Why you should care: You may have heard the recent controversy about triclosan, but in case you haven’t, effective September 2017 the FDA will be banning 17 antibacterial ingredients in hand soaps. Their study found that using antibacterial soaps provided no benefit over plain soap and water. You may be saying “good, why are we talking about this still?” The thing is, the ban only includes antibacterial hand soaps. Triclosan will still be available in many consumer products labeled as antibacterial. Triclosan is linked to liver toxicity and even in low levels can disrupt thyroid function.
What to use instead: In a study performed by Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, it was found that out of 31 essential oils, 5 Essential oils proved most potent in a 1:10 dilution, by inhibiting the visible growth of a microorganism in an overnight liquid culture. There are over 40 essential oils that are antibacterial in nature, here is my kid and adult friendly hand sanitizer recipe that is not only chemical free, but also nourishing for your skin.
Chemical: Querternary Ammonium (Quats)
Why you should care: Have you ever wondered how fabric softeners work? Essentially your clothes are coated in slimy chemicals with names like diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride. Add that to the “mountain waters” fragrance and you will kill two birds with one stone by tossing the fabric sheets. You may also be preventing asthma. The association of occupational and environmental clinics called quits “asthmagens”, which are substances that cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people. With the epidemic of nearly 1 in 10 children suffering from asthma, it was worth it to me to look for another option.
What to use instead: What I use instead is an organic wool drier ball with lemon. Add 5 drops to the ball and throw it in the drier. My clothes come out with a light clean scent without the extra chemicals.
Chemical: 2 Butoxyethanol
Why you should care: The EPA considers 2 Butoxyethanol a possible human carcinogen(substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue). The CDC also warns that the principle effect of 2 b. is hematotoxicity or toxicity to the blood. This is through anemia caused by the damaging of red blood cells.
What to use instead: The best recipe that I have found is by mixing 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol, and 10 drops of a citrus oil. My favorite is lemon. Add them all to a spray bottle and shake prior to use.
Stain removers and dry cleaning products
Why you should care: We first learned of this chemical through my husbands use of dry cleaning for his work uniform. Joey had rashes on his legs after picking up and wearing his clothes from the dry cleaners which prompted us to begin looking into what exactly dry-cleaning used. The national toxicology program has listed perchorethylene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. Yikes! Another chemical that has a known capability of causing cancer. This is also found in spot cleaners for my clothes and carpets as well.
What to use instead: I was so surprised at the effectiveness of lemon oil on carpet and clothing stains. I simply added 3 tablespoons of water with 10 drops of lemon essential oil in a spray bottle.If you have stubborn stains you can add 4 drops of melaleuca essential oil as it is a mild solvent.
We are exposed to toxic substances every day which all contribute to higher levels of toxicity in the body. Toxicity must be dealt with as the body cannot perform at full efficiency when it is overwhelmed. Often times, a symptom that we may have, such as a headache, fatigue, excess weight or chronic pain, may just be a side effect of the body attempting to eliminate toxins through different systems. I couldn’t believe that reputable organizations have labeled some of these products as “known carcinogen” and “asthmagens”, yet they are still used in many homes at what I believe is a cost greater than their intended use. This list is just a primer on some of the items we have replaced in our home.
Has anyone found any other items to replace?