This much we know. Everywhere you turn, there are chemicals you will breathe in, drink, or absorb through your skin.
Some of that is the result of living in the modern world where everything should look as good and fresh for the longest time, and be as convenient as can be, and part of it is the way our standards of living have changed since the days of say, non-fragrant laundry homemade soap and well, not living in constant fear of fire, bacteria, stains and dandelions.
Soap is no longer just soap, but something that can carry artificial fragrances and colors, antibacterial compounds such as triclosan, sparkles, plastic beads (in case of hand and face soap,) or bleach, fabric softener and other chemicals that come with a skull and crossbones warning (for laundry detergent.)
Soaps and detergents are but two of the many things you come in contact with every day multiple times.
Add to that the cooking utensils you use for the meals you cook at home (think non-stick and plastic, for example) or the food you eat. By the time you call it a day and get ready for sleep, your liver is still working hard to deal with the chemical overload.
Where do all these chemicals come from you may wonder? Here are but a few examples:
- Many items in your home may have endocrine-disrupting and possibly cancer-causing flame retardants (curtains, sofas, mattresses, carpets,)
- Cleaning products, unless produced by an environmental conscientious company, have chemicals that may affect your respiratory system
- Plastic – from food and water containers to toys and various other things around the home, plastic has become so utterly convenient and commonplace that most people forget that some of its components can be endocrine-disrupting, while plastic itself is almost environmentally immortal
- Furniture often comes with formaldehyde and other toxic fumes that you can barely smell (yet people have come to love the new smell furniture) but they are still toxic
- Clothing comes with the dreadful inheritance of pesticides and fungicides
- Cosmetics are often the Trojan horse hiding many deleterious chemicals inside. The skin, our largest organ, absorbs it all in the name of cleanliness and beauty.
- Food brings pesticides and also preserving chemicals to the table, and yes, the grass you sit on for that long-awaited summer picnic… well, you get the idea.
The list is by no means a comprehensive one, but a good start nonetheless.
If you want to know more, pick up a copy of the “Unacceptable Levels1,” an outstanding, critically acclaimed documentary by Ed Brown.
This documentary could not be better timed. A variety of new studies point out to what we need to know but often try to forget or forget simply because life takes us too many places too fast.
We are facing increased rates of cancer in all populations groups. We are witnessing more neurodevelopmental and behavioral issues in children than ever before, chronic respiratory diseases, endocrine affections, obesity and, despite of all economic progress, one could dare say a decreasing quality of health much of which can be traced to the chemical world we live in.
Steering clear of chemicals is a bit like walking on a high beam every now and then. You have to watch your step because, truth is, no one can possibly do it with the same amount of dedication. And you are most interested to do it right because your health and your family’s depend on it.
Daniela Ginta, MSc lives and writes in Kamloops, BC, after many years spent on the West Coast. She writes mostly on environmental and social issues, and occasionally shares insights into her life as a mother of two young sons to whom she wants to give two things: common sense and a social conscience. Daniela has written for many local and national publications, and has no fear when it comes to discussing big uncomfortable environment or society-related topics. You can visit her at www.thinkofclouds.com and www.danielaginta.com, or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.