TOXICS INFORMATION PROJECT (TIP)
P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02906
Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail: TIP@toxicsinfo.org
THOUGHTS ON GOING NON-TOXIC
Some General Guidelines
With so many chemicals abounding in the environment around us, and the products we buy, TIP feels the need to focus on a relatively manageable number. Our philosophy is to identify and avoid some of the most toxic, most common, and those for which there are healthier alternatives – and substitute the latter.
1. Routes into the human body
Ingestion – Food/Water (digestive system to bloodstream to organs/brain)
Absorption – Skin (direct to bloodstream to organs/brain)
Inhalation – Lungs (direct to bloodstream to organs/brain)
Intranasal – Nose (direct to the brain)
NOTE: Testing has found pesticide residues in most foods, and a recent CDC (Center for Disease Control) study found toxic residues in all people whose blood they tested.
2. What can toxics cause when they get into body systems? Here’s a few of the problems:
Neurological changes in the brain, trigger/cause allergic and asthmatic symptoms, undermine immune system defenses, MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity), diseases such as Parkinson’s and cancer and suspected links to many behavioral disorders such as ADHD, lowered IQ levels, autism and developmental disorders.
3. What to avoid – chemicals such as:
Pesticides (including “inerts” – which aren’t inert at all)
Synthetic “Fragrances” (essentially all commercial versions)
Formaldehyde (found in new carpet and other products)
Chlorine breakdown products & residues: THMs, chloroform, dioxin
Other VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
4. Carefully read the labels of:
Personal Care Products
Pest Control Products
Magic Markers & Correctional Fluids (White-Out)
NOTE: Always read the BACK of the label and the small print. Some products shout “Natural” and mention natural ingredients prominently, but when you read the ingredients list, the toxic chemicals
or warnings are there as well. Be aware that terms such as “fragrance” and “inerts” are deceptive.
They can conceal hundreds of different highly toxic chemicals, considered “trade secrets”.
5. Seek healthier alternatives such as:
Natural cleaners such as borax, vinegar, baking and washing soda.
Non-toxic markers, water-based White-Out
IPM (Integrated Pest Management) least toxic pest control methods
Organic foods or those known to have generally less pesticide residues
Low VOC substitutes for such high-VOC products as new carpets, paint, some furniture.
TIPS ON LOW-TOXIC LIVING
Think About What You Really Need: Consumer Reports has found that special “antimicrobial” cleaners are mostly unnecessary – germs start growing again right after application. Plain, unscented soap and other natural cleaners kill bacteria as well. In one Consumer Reports study, plain water was more effective than half the commercial glass cleaners on the market. The “clean” smell of many products is actually toxic fumes from petroleum derivatives. So-called “air freshener” is one of the most deceptively named and advertised things on the market. It does not “freshen” anything, nor eliminate odors, but instead substitutes toxic “fragrance” to cover up odors – or interferes with your ability to smell. Open a window, or buy one of a number of reasonably priced electronic air cleaners which actually do purify the air. (Shop carefully – some handle VOCs, some only dust and natural allergens). Other suggestions include certain house plants that have been shown to remove toxins, and zeolite, a mineral that absorbs them. Preventive maintenance with enzymes or natural drain cleaners can avoid the need for expensive and dangerous drain products – which don’t always work anyway.
Environmental & Health Considerations: A recent study indicated that many commonly used products, including pesticides, cosmetics, antimicrobial cleaners, hormones and pharmaceuticals turn up in our waterways – and then in our drinking water. Most are not removed by water treatment plants. That’s a good reason for looking into the variety of water filters that are available. Chlorine is a major concern – especially when released by the hot water in your shower, it can cause reactions from rashes to sore or itchy eyes. A shower filter can make a big difference. Perfume in detergents may cause rashes, and in shampoos itchy scalps. Fragrances also often result in headaches, disorientation, dizziness. They are known triggers for asthma, and suspected of being a factor in many other conditions. Even if you have no immediate reactions, long-term use of many of these products could result in a chronic condition. Another concern is the toxic chemicals from dry-cleaning of clothes – which is often not even necessary.
Know Toxicity Levels: Study TIP info sheets and follow up Web links to learn which are the best and worst foods in terms of toxicity. Then focus your organic buying on the ones most important to avoid. Be aware that pesticide residues in any vegetable, fruit or grain are lower than in meat and dairy products, because of the large bio-accumulation in the latter. Seek meat and dairy that is free of antibiotics and hormones – usually found at larger natural food stores.
THE GOOD NEWS
Not Necessarily Expensive: Many low-tox products are pretty much the same price as the toxic kind – for example, fragrance-free detergent, Bon Ami non-chlorinated scouring powder. Natural cleaners like borax, vinegar and baking soda are likely to be even cheaper than branded formulas. Pest control methods that rely on preventive maintenance and substances you may have in your cupboard may save you money over toxic pesticides. This can be especially true because pests may develop resistance to the latter, requiring greater and greater amounts or switching to different formulas. Even products that may cost more, such as organic produce, often are very affordable – can you really not afford 69 to 99 cents for a pound of carrots or bananas? Compare the cost of one such banana with the price of a Twinkie! Shopping around can make a big difference, as well, and may surprise you. Many healthy items, for example, are cheaper at natural foods stores than the local supermarket.
Any Steps You Take Will Yield Dividends! You don’t have to take on the whole organic lifestyle to get benefits from reducing the toxics in your life. Even small changes are likely to improve your health and well-being, short and long-term. But watch out – once you start, you may find yourself leading a more and more non-toxic life!
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