Unless you are living entirely off-grid (and while we envy you if you are, most of us are not), chances are good that you’re absorbing and being exposed to toxins on a regular basis. Some of these toxins are unavoidable, but many of them are related directly to the manufacturing and supply processes and chains set up to feed America’s addictive consumerism. Reducing consumerism in your life can contribute to reducing toxins in the world. Consider that as you read these ten facts about everyday toxins.
Fact One: Canned Food is Toxic
Even if your canned food is of the organic variety, it’s still toxic. Since 1950 or so, can manufacturers have been using bisphenol A (BPA), an ingredient made of plastic and resin, to line the inside of cans. We’d be surprised if you haven’t heard some of the BPA debate in the news, especially since, until recently, it also lined many baby bottles. Over 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic even in small doses. The next time you’re thinking about the convenience of canned foods, consider the toxic element as well.
Fact Two: Lipstick is Toxic
Ladies (and gentlemen of a kind), you’ll be disappointed to know that many of your favorite beauty products are going to make a guest appearance in this list. Over four hundred lipsticks currently on the market contain lead. Lead, you may recall, is toxic. Wondering if your brand contains lead? You can research it in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.
Fact Three: Even “All-Natural” and Unscented Air Fresheners are Toxic
We all love a home that smells like you’re outdoors in the woods or a car that smells like anything other than the takeout food that you left in the backseat for a week. But the reality is that there’s no such thing as a natural consumer air freshener. To create the scents that we all so love, companies have to mix chemicals. Lots of chemicals. Looking for a natural air freshener? Try leaving some orange peels laying around for a fresh, citrus scent.
Fact Four: Chances Are That Your Perfume or Cologne is Toxic
Modern perfumes are almost always made from synthetic chemicals that are most commonly synthesized from petroleum distillates. It’s true that you can find on the market entirely natural and organic scents – but you’ll still want to carefully examine the label. To create preservation and staying power with the scent, there’s typically a (toxic) chemical element. What’s an alternative? Natural essential oils.
Fact Five: If You Don’t Want Toxins, Choose Five Free Nail Polish
If you love painting your nails, you can actually make a great decision to avoid toxins. Look for nail polish products labeled “5 Free.” As concern over the toxins in nail polish grew, more and more manufacturers switched to five free nail polishes, which don’t contain any major toxins.
Fact Six: Mothballs are Toxic
There has to be a better way to keep pesky moths from eating holes in your clothes than mothballs. No, really, there has to be a better way because mothballs are actually highly toxic. Studies on one active ingredient in some mothballs, paradichlorobenzene, found that it can cause cancer in animals. Other types of moth balls use naphthalene, which after prolonged exposure can damage or destroy red blood cells, and which can also stimulate nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Trust us, your clothes are not worth that much!
Fact Seven: Pressed Wood Products are Toxic
If your home is oh-so-modern chic, or even college chic with a bunch of particle board and pressed wood products, well, it’s toxic. The glue that holds the wood particles in place may use urea-formaldehyde as a resin. The EPA estimates that this is the largest source of formaldehyde emissions indoors. Formaldehyde exposure can set off watery eyes, burning eyes and throat, difficulty breathing and asthma attacks. Stylish, no?
Fact Eight: Your Carpeting May Be Toxic
Yes, even the carpet beneath your feet may be toxic. The glue and dyes that are used with modern day carpets are known to contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be harmful. The good news is that most VOC levels will subside several days after your carpet installation, so plan a little vacation for yourself to avoid them and all can be well.
Fact Nine: Your Home May be Full of Toxic Flame Retardants
It is entirely possible that your home is full of toxic flame retardants in places that you don’t even realize have flame retardation. Mattresses, upholstery, television and computer casings and circuit boards have flame retardants that use polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) to keep you safe from fire breakouts. Two forms of PBDEs were phased out of use in manufacturing in the United States in 2004 because of related health threats, but unless you’ve upgraded your house since then you may still have products that contain them. Studies have linked PBDEs to learning and memory problems, lowered sperm counts and poor thyroid functioning in rats and mice.
Fact Ten: It’s a Toxic World Out There
While diligence in avoiding toxins is always a good thing, we’re all going to have to come to terms with the fact that, in many cases, we don’t even know where the toxins in our lives are. What’s the safest bet? Buy as many natural products as possible when you need purchases. They may not be toxin free, but they’re likely to be dramatically reduced in toxin counts.
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