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I’ve been wearing reading glasses for years. I have prescription glasses too for driving, but readers work fine for reading and they are inexpensive. I like to have a pair in my purse, a pair at my desk, and a pair next to the bed, and that adds up when you are buying prescription glasses.
Over the years I have purchased a lot of reading glasses and have done some research on the plastics used for frames.
However, I have never seen a warning label on eyeglasses of any kind until Labor Day weekend when I tried to order a pair of glasses online from readers.com. I got all the way to checkout and was just about to click on the “buy” button when the warning above came up.
What???? I had just purchased a different pair of glasses from readers.com a few days before and there was no warning. but now here it was.
I just called Readers.com and they told me they are required by law to post this warning in the State of California. Not all of their readers contain nickel or BPA, but some do so they put the warning on all. She also could not tell me what specific plastics were used in the plastic frames.
So my problem with this is
1. This is not a useful warning label because these substances known to the State of California to cause cancer may or may not actual be in the product to which the warning label is attached, and
2. We can’t find out by asking the retailer what the materials are for any specific pair of glasses, so we can’t determine if the warning labels apply to this particular pair or not.
The representative from Readers.com also said that if I went to another website and there was no warning label, that doesn’t mean the glasses do not contain nickel or BPA, it just means they didn’t put the warning label as they are required to do by law.
This warning label applied this way just isn’t helpful and isn’t a warning label at all.
I’m already in the process of doing more research about this. We should be able to buy a pair of glasses and know what material is in contact with our skin for hours on end every day. It may be perfectly fine, but the point is, we should be able to know.
The nontoxic certification organization MADESAFE issued a new report last week called Detox Your Sleep: Toxic Chemicals in Bedding, Safer Alternative & Certified Products for Healthier Sleep . It was sponsored in part by Naturepedic, manufacturer of mattresses and Coyuchi, manufacturer of bedding.
I want to tell you what’s good about this report and what—in my opinion—it’s missing.
The strength of this report is it’s research into the toxic materials. It contains about 20 pages about toxic materials used to make mattresses, with more than 200 scientific references. It’s a great reference for why we need to sleep on something other than the standard mattress.
But then, only three pages were devoted to the safer mattress materials.
And then three pages on chemicals in bedlinen. Formaldehyde on bedsheets, our most intimate contact with toxic chemicals was mentioned in passing without mentioning any health effects (formaldehyde causes cancer, among other problems).
From my viewpoint, this report really doesn’t tell us how to choose mattresses or bedding, only what the problem chemicals are and the MADESAFE certified brands. Even when you click through to the MADESAFE website, there is no standard for mattresses (beyond their usual does not contain their list of toxic chemicals), nor any description of the choices.
My biggest concern here is that the certified mattresses listed—Naturepedic, Happsy, and Avocado (in progress—are all presented as if they are the same, yet they are VERY different mattresses. Naturepedic and Happsy are both GOTS certified organic mattresses and Avocado is not. See my comparison of Naturepedic and Avocado here.
This gives a false impression that Avocado (and other mattresses that will be certified in the future) are as “made safe” as Naturepedic and Happsy when then are not. I know that often consumers look at a certification and think that all certified products are created equal. This is at least one example where they are not.
Still this report is worth reading if you are interested in the toxic chemicals used to make standard mattresses.
At about 3 an on 23 August 2018, while lying in bed peacefully, suddenly—with no warning—the room started spinning violently. Within seconds my body was nauseous and sweating.
Finally the attack subsided and I fell asleep for a few hours. But as soon as I awoke the spinning started up again. We didn’t know what was happening or what to do, so Larry put me in the car and rushed me to the Emergency Room.
It was the first time in my life I had ever been to an Emergency Room for medical care. I had taken other people, but I had never been the patient.
As much as I have a natural orientation to healthcare, I have to say, that day I was very grateful for emergency care.
The Emergency Room really is designed for emergencies. And that day I was having an emergency. My head was spinning, I couldn’t eat anything without vomiting it back up, I couldn’t drink anything and I didn’t know what the problem was. Making an appointment with my doctor and waiting in the office waiting room wasn’t enough that day. I needed help NOW.
We walked in with me crying and saying over and over. “I need to lie down, I need to lie down.” And they put me in a bed right away. Within minutes they were drawing blood and had hooked up an IV.
The first thing they determined was my body was extremely dehydrated . And it was. Over the course of the day they gave me five bags of saline. No time to consider what might be in that saline or the plastic bag or anything. My body needed fluids.
They did blood tests for diabetic complications (that wasn’t it).
They did a CAT scan to see if I had a brain tumor. Fortunately I didn’t. But I do want to mention something here. After I wrote in last week’s newsletter that I had dizziness. a reader wrote the following to me:
I want to tell you i have been into alternative health and organic foods for over 40 years, i am 68 years (young live on a farm) and a few months ago i started throwing up and then i passed out. my kids took me to the hospital and they said i had a brain tumor = not cancer and that it probably was there for 20 years and just got too big and hit my brain.
The tumor was on the back of my right ear and down below -exactly where the cell phones and cordless phones sit. I had a cell phone since they were invented and always used a cordless phone. In Europe they know cell phones are bad, but like the tobacco people lied for years the cell phone people lie and say they cause no problems since the tumor was exactly where the phones sit, i have no doubt what caused it. I had much much prayer and got a miracle but i would warn your readers about the dangers of these phones. thanks marianne
Finally, after eliminating the emergency possibilities they determined that I had simple vertigo, gave me a shot of a steroid and sent me home.
I’m going to tell you more about vertigo in another post, but here’s what I want to tell you about my health.
My body was tested all day long. They gave me two rounds of blood tests and a CAT scan, and hooked me up to an electrocardiogram, and when all was said and done, they basically had determined I AM HEALTHY except for this transient episode of vertigo.
This was actually a surprise to me because I often have attention on what is wrong with my body instead of what is right.
And then I had a big realization.
I now have been living toxic-free for 40 years. And even though my body is not perfect, I realized that at age 63 I AM HEALTHY in the sense that:
- I am alive (my mother died when she was 51 from cancer and my younger brother at 58 from prescription drugs)
- All my body systems are go: I can breathe, my heart is beating, my intestines digest food, my liver detoxes, etc
- All my senses are functioning, so I can taste, smell, see, hear, feel.
- I have energy to get up in the morning and work about 12 hours a day and then go out in the evening with Larry
- I can sleep at night. I can wake up in the morning.
- If something goes wrong, my body has resilience to set things right.
And I am getting HEALTHIER EVERY DAY instead of older and more decrepit. I don’t look 63. People think I’m about 45.
This is the result of 40 years of living toxic-free. I’m younger and stronger and healthier than people my age around me who are complaining about their illnesses and dying of cancer.
A few days later I had another realization.
There actually is a higher level of health available than can be achieved by living in a toxic home and getting standard drug-based medical care. Or even using alternative medicine and prevention. It’s above and beyond anything that can happen as long as one lives in the toxic world.
I made a little chart and it looked like this:
I realized that a toxic-free lifestyle—over time—results in a condition of health that is regenerative and transcendent to the level of physical, mental, and spiritual health we experience in our modern industrial society. It’s so different that I’m calling it “transcendent health.”
Instead of feeling like toxic-free living is moving away from toxics, I’m feeling more like I am moving toward health on a level I’ve never experienced before. And I believe this is what is ahead for everyone who continues to live this way. At first it’s about reliving immediate symptoms, but there are much more benefits down the road.
This is not something I ever expected I would experience.
I’m actually healthier at age 63 than I have ever been in my life and healthier than other people I see around me. And anyone can have this.
Last week I ended up in the Emergency Room with my head spinning, nausea, and sweating. By the end of the day the doctors determined the problem was vertigo, but the first thing they observed was that my body was very dehydrated. Over the course of they day they gave me five bags of saline.
This really surprised me because I thought my body was hydrated. I literally drink water all day long. I have a glass bottle of pure water sitting on my desk all the time and I am sipping it whenever I am at my desk. But here I was, in the emergency room, dehydrated.
While trying to find out how many ounces of saline (water and salt) is in an IV bag, I came across this article that begins “a lot of question about hydration can be found through the IV protocol that is followed by hospitals.” Indeed, if you are admitted to an emergency room or hospital for just about any reason, the FIRST “treatment” you are given is an IV. That’s how important hydration is.
I’m just going to quote the article here (I’ve added my own bold and underline for your convenience):
The purpose of an I.V. is to supply extra water to a dehydrated patient and/or to assure that the daily water and salt needs or “maintenance needs” are met for patients unable to take them by mouth. Naturally, there are circumstances through which the patient would not be physically able to drink water but; for the sake of staff convenience AND to enhance the billable goods, the I.V. protocol is followed for almost everybody. I’m quite sure that the fact that most Americans are chronically dehydrated makes an automatic I.V. make a whole lot of sense.
Although the amount of I.V. fluids infused depends largely on size and the needs of the patient, it is typically between 1.5 and 3 liters (50-100 ounces) a day for the average adult.That’s 6.24 – 12.5 cups of water per day! Rest assured, the medical professionals KNOW that we need 50-100 ounces of water just to hydrate in a
Funny how physicians fail to emphasize the need for lots of water OUTSIDE of the walls of the hospital. When was the last time you drank 50-100 ounces of water? If you need 50-100 ounces of water just to sustain hydration in a SEDENTARY state, imagine how much more water the body needs when it’s actually moving around while you’re living life!
Many patients “lose” their symptoms when they’re (finally) hydrated using I.V. fluids! Hmm…
Health authorities usually recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, which is 64 ounces or a half gallon. Barely enough to stay hydrated for a sedentary lifestyle. My doctor told me divide my weight by 2 and drink that number of ounces (for me that’s more than a half gallon but still only enough for sedentary hydration).
So drink more water! And be sure to drink [clean purified water]=lnk-to-pureeffect-on-dberaslist so you are adding hydration to your body without adding toxic chemicals.
My doctor told me a little trick. She said that your urine should be the color of “lemon water”—very light yellow. The darker the yellow of your urine, the more dehydrated you are. So just keep an eye on this and drink water accordingly.
In rare cases, too much water can be harmful. Hyponatremia occurs when your body takes in too much water, diluting vital salt levels in the blood. But you would have to greatly exceed the amount of replacement water your body needs for this to occur.
I find it helps to MEASURE out the water so you know how much you drank.
This is a basic, basic, basic necessity for health. I can’t emphasize it enough!
IS YOUR BODY DEHYDRATED?
This is a slightly edited version of a post I wrote for my Toxic Free Body blog, which is no longer live. The entire blog is available as an ebook at Toxic Free Body.
When I used to live in Florida, the daily temperature was about 88 during the day and the low 82 at night…plus it was humid…so itit was pretty much hot hot hot and sweaty day and night.
And when you go indoors, the air conditioner was dehumidifying the air, pulling even more water out of your body.
Clearly, if you aren’t drinking enough water to replenish, your body is getting dehydrated.
Bodies have a high percentage of water as an essential element of life. Where our bodies can survive two to three weeks withou food, they survive only two to three days without water.
Detoxification is occuring 24/7 in our bodies and we need to assist that process by supplying our body with adequate water to do the job. There is an old adage in natural health care: “The solution to pollution is dilution!”
When the body is dehyrdrated it tends to hold on to toxic chemicals rather than releasing them and toxics become imbedded more easily. Out in nature we can see that a flowing river is better that a stagnant pond if you want a boat to move from one point to another, Drinking adequate amount of fresh water helps the river of your bloodstream to keep moving.
Your intestinal system needs a tremndous amount of water to digest food and keep the process of elimination moving. Water helps our elimination systems work and can reduce constipation to keep the bowels moving properly. While you are constipated, wastes filled with toxic chemicals are sitting in your intestines. Toxic chemicals in those wastes are reabsorbed into your body through intestinal walls. instead of being eliminated from your body as they should. Lack of water only makes constipation worse.
Beyond this, almost any symptom you can name can be associated with dehydration! Headaches, muscle ache or pain, muscle cramps, blood pressure problems, fatigue, anxiety, and the list goes on and on! There is a great book called Your Body’s Many Cries for Water: You are Not Sick, You are Thirsty! that thoroughly discusses the importance of hydration for health and the symptoms that can result from dehydration.
Excuse me for a moment, I’m going to go drink a glass of water!
Ahhhhhhh! That’s better!
During the summer months in particular, it’s important to drink plenty of water.
Here are some tips to help your body absorb and utilize the water you drink.
1. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water. By the time you feel thirsty, your body has lost more than 1 percent of it’s water. It’s better to drink water regularly throughout the day to replenish vital stores. Carry bottles of water with you. Glass bottles, please! No plastics. Keep a bottle of water sitting on your desk.
2. Maintain adequate electrolytes. Adequate salt and potassiium are critical to proper hydration and many can benefit especially in hot weather. A low salt diet may be necessary for some health conditions but the proper balance of minerals is necessary for proper health. I have seen many people who have turned their health around with proper mineral intake. If you are drinking a lot of water, you need to supplement sodium and potassium.
3. Eat lots of fresh, raw, green vegetables and fresh fruits. Salad is the perfect food for summer! Leafy greens contain lots of water and have all the necessary nutrients needed to assimilate that water. Fresh juicy fruits are another good source of both water and nutrients.
Last week I ended up in the Emergency Room after I woke up at 3 am with the room spinning violently. nausea, and sweating. By morning I still couldn’t walk or drink or eat without vomiting, so Larry took me to the Emergency Room.
After a day of tests the doctors said I was suffering from vertigo. And because I knew nothing about vertigo, I want to share with you what I’ve learned.
First, there are apparently different types of “dizzy.” When I said, “I’m dizzy,” the doctor asked. “Are you lightheaded or is the room spinning?” Ah, that was very clear. I had experienced lightheadedness in the past, which is a feeling you are about to faint when you stand up too quickly or take too many deep breaths. This was different. I was experiencing “room spinning.” If you’ve never experienced this, you will recognize it if you ever do, now that you know it’s a condition.
Vertigo is a feeling of motion when there is no motion. It’s like that amusement park ride called Tilt-A-Whirl where the platform goes around but it also tilts. It’s violent. You can’t stand up. It’s very much like being in a little boat in stormy seas. Everything is moving and you can’t control it. You just hold on.
CAUSES OF VERTIGO
Vertigo can be the result of a number of causes. It’s not a disease, it’s the result of a condition.
When I came to the Emergency Room the first thing they did was hook me up to an IV to start hydrating my body. Because “very common cause of vertigo” is dehydration. And, in fact, my body was dehydrated. Over the course of the day they gave me five bags of saline. [Just as an aside, when I woke up with the room spinning I grabbed Larry, who was lying next to me, screamed “the room is spinning” and then immediately asked repeatedly for water until he brought it to me.]
But it can also be caused by alcohol, epilepsy, heat stroke, hypothermia, insulin, shortness of breath kidney failure, trauma, infection, stroke or poisoning.
Clearly the doctors could see I had vertigo, but they didn’t know the cause. It could be anything from dehydration to kidney failure.
By the end of the day they had given me emergency medications to stop the dizziness, which I was grateful to have, but that’s all. They gave me a prescription for a drug to stop the dizziness, but didn’t tell me anything about how to prevent dizziness in the first place. So I had to do my own research.
By this time I had been told that a common cause of vertigo is a disturbance in the vestibular system of the inner ear. Herein lies the body’s balance system that tells you which way is down and senses the position of your head. It is filled with little crystals. During the course of life, the little crystals can move out of their location and then no longer function to balance. This can be caused by many factors.
So I suspected that dehydration may have triggered the attack, but it seemed like there were other factors.
VERTIGO AND TOXIC CHEMICALS
First I wanted to know if vertigo could be the result of by toxic chemical exposure (of course). So I looked that up. And actually there are associations between vertigo and industrial chemicals. There is even a word—ototoxic—that refer to chemicals that affect functions that belong to the ear, including hearing and vertigo. An audiologist recommends people should protect themselves from hydrocarbon, asphyxiant and heavy metal exposure.
- Hydrocarbons are basically any substances made from petroleum, particularly those that are volatile, such as paint fumes, synthetic fragrance, cleaning products, and the like
- asphyxiants are a gas or vapor that can cause unconsciousness or death by suffocation due to lack of oxygen. Carbon monoxide, methane and propane are all iasphyxiants.
- Heavy metals include lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium, and others.
So if you are creating a toxic-free home, you are also helping to prevent vertigo, or improve your vertigo if you have it.
MY TYPE OF VERTIGO AND WHAT I’M DOING TO END IT
After the doctors ruled out that my vertigo was not from a brain tumor, kidney failure or many of the other possible causes, I began to observe what made the spinning start and stop.
Once my body became more hydrated, the spinning lessened enough that I could observe the spinning stopped when I was laying down and started again when I sat up or stood up. It would also start when I would turn my head from side to side while lying down. And so I began to see that my vertigo was related to position, so it made sense that the problem was those little particles in my inner ear being out of place.
There seem to be standard chiropractic adjustments that can be done, but one of my readers sent me an article and video about a simple procedure I can do at home. It was developed by a ear, nose and throat doctor. She said none of her patients she has given it to ever came back for further treatment.
I have been doing this once a day almost daily for almost a week and every day I have less vertigo. As I write this, I have no attention on vertigo as I go about my day. Last night it was only slight as I got out of bed. I’m going to continue to do this procedure every night until I no longer have any vertigo.
This video also has a really good explanation of what is going on with the particles in the inner ear that are causing vertigo.
I’ve concluded that there are natural ways to control vertigo and possibly even eliminate it altogether. Now I don’t have to be concerned about it and can get on with life.
Each of us has our own unique reasons for wanting to choose toxic-free products. But I just discovered that in addition to our individual motivations, collectively as human beings we actually have a deep need to protect ourselves from the harm inherent in toxic chemical exposure.
There is something you may already be familiar with called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs . It was first proposed in 1943 by Abraham Maslow, a psychology professor at Alliant International University, Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research, and Columbia University. His work stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a “bag of symptoms,” His Hierarchy of Needs theorizes that human beings are motivated by an urge to fulfill basic human needs beginning with such basic needs as food and water and culminating with being fully themselves. Above is a diagram of his original hierarchy, but later in life Maslow expanded the model to include other needs as well.
I’ve known about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for many years, but looking at them again recently I noticed that we all have a need to be SAFE, and that is so basic that it comes right after our need for food, water, warmth and sleep. Included in that need are health and well-being, and to be safe against accidents and illnesses and their adverse impacts.
We’re actually “wired” to resist that which might harm us.
When we choose toxic-free products we are fulfilling oura basic human need to be safe.
More and more it is becoming clear to me in my own life the importance of having these “bottom of the hierarchy” needs securely in place. These are the necessities of life. Without them the nourishment of food and the hydration of water we can do nothing. Filling these foundation need of biological necessities and safety, we then have a firm foundation for life on which we can build to live the life of our dreams.
According to a new study, “air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health.”
The study found that, ” high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.”
“They found the longer people were exposed to dirty air, the bigger the damage to intelligence, with language ability more harmed than mathematical ability and men more harmed than women.”
This study was done regarding pollution in outdoor air, but indoor air pollutants are similar and would have similar effects.
This makes sense to me because many chemicals are known to affect the central nervous system and in doing so affects brain function.
Again, another reason to remove sources of indoor air pollution from your home and have an air filter on hand and available when needed.
This post has been coming on for weeks. But you know, sometimes you have to watch things unfold and then you have the big realization. I finally had the big realization over the weekend, so finally I can post this post.
It started with an interesting conversation during a consultation.
A woman wanted me to look at several products she was considering purchasing, give her my opinion about how toxic they are, and if they did have some toxic exposure, could she still use them since she had an EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit air purifier.
I just want to share my reply with all of you.
First, I actually think everyone should own an air filter. I used to not think this, however, since going through the big fire last fall and also living in an area where smells of all kinds come wafting by even though the air is generally very clean, I do think that it’s wise to have an air filter on hand in case it is needed. [Weeks after I wrote this, I finally purchased my own EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit after the wind shifted one day and we got a lot of smoke from this year’s fires.]
The general recommendation for good indoor air quality is to start by reducing pollutants at the source. Which means, remove any products you can that are contributing to indoor air pollution with products that are not polluting. Even if you have an air filter, it’s best to reduce the amount of pollution it needs to filter, as your media cartridges will last longer.
Another caveat I just want to mention is that filtered air is not the same as natural air. It’s better to breathe filtered air, but the best air is clean natural air. There are just other factors to natural air that are not present in the filtered air. So if you are in a situation where you need to be breathing filtered air, get out in nature whenever you can. Even I, living where I do in an area where there is very clean air, I still drive out to the ocean that has very very clean air full of negative ions and other beneficial factors. I call this “live” air.
So then there is the fact that when you are filtering air or reducing indoor air pollutants at the source, you are only doing this at home. Once you step out your door, you are out in the toxic world, breathing toxic air. Toxic in varying degrees depending on where you live and if you are driving in traffic or walking on a store, etc. But almost anywhere is likely to be more toxic than your home.
I explained to my client that there are several levels of how to consider toxic exposure.
- At the most immediate level you would look at a product and evaluate the materials it is made from to see to what degree they may be toxic. A product might be completely toxic-free, or have one toxic ingredient or several, or the toxicity may be low or high.
- Then there is the amount of toxic exposure you get overall in life. You have your home, which might be zero toxic like mine or some percentage toxic, and then there is “beyond home” which is certainly more toxic. And you might spend different percentages of time there. I would say that for me, I spend more than 50 percent of my time in my home and even when I go out I’m in a clean air place and there are few toxic exposures in the natural food store and the farmer’s market and other small shops and restaurants I usually go to. But for other people, it might look like 50% at home during non-work hours, then sitting in traffic, then working in a toxic office building. After I created a nontoxic home many years ago my next steps were to move out of the city into a forest and create a home-based business so I wouldn’t have to community or work in an office building.
- And then you need to consider your own level of need. If you have MCS, you really need your home to be as toxic-free is you can possibly make it. If you want to reduce your toxic exposure for other reasons, you have a little more leeway.
You don’t have to reduce your toxic exposure 100%. It’s impossible anyway. Our bodies have detoxification systems that can handle a certain amount of exposure. The problem is they get overloaded. And as we reduce our exposure, our bodies continue to detox and health gets better because the amount of exposure we have begins to be more in line with what our bodies can handle.
So this really is individual for everyone.
The big question my client wanted to know was could she buy furniture she liked that had some toxic elements to it because she was running her air filter.
I told her in my home I wouldn’t do that But it’s a process. You don’t create a toxic-free home overnight. An air filter can be a great tool while you are transitioning because it WILL remove a lot of the pollutants being created by your carpet and your bed and your particleboard kitchen cabinets and all those other things until you learn what’s toxic in your home and can replace them.
But I also understand her desire to have things that are the style that she’s accustomed to. It was an adjustment for me to stop wearing the fashionable clothes I was accustomed to, My red lipstick was one of the last items to go because 40 years ago they didn’t have all the pretty colors of natural lipstick we have now.
In the end we decided that having a few items in her house that were somewhat toxic (but not the worst offenders) would be OK with her air filter running, We just looked at the fact that she is being exposed to toxics outside of her home and put those products on the side of the ledger with the “beyond house” toxic exposures.
It all comes down to what you need to do or what you are willing to do, and what you can afford to do.
My commitment is to reduce toxic exposures as much as I can and I will be as creative as I need to be, spend whatever money I need to spend, do whatever research I need to do and go to any lengths to minimize my exposures to the max. But I also choose to go out in the world and fly in airplanes and sleep in hotels and eat in restaurants. And then I come home to my toxic free environment. It’s a balance.
In a way, my client choosing her sofa for comfort even though it may still contain some toxic components is much like me going out into the world. It’s an “informed exposure”—a risk we are willing to take, like crossing the street.
It all comes down to balance. Toxics in, toxics out. Our bodies will process a certain amount. Don’t overload. If you’re exposed, then spend time away from toxics so your body can detox.
An air filter can help achieve that balance.
* * *
In the weeks that followed I had other similar questions.
But there’s a variation on this theme, and that is the so-called “nontoxic” certifications that certify that the product has passed certain tests and therefore are safe. You’ve seen them: GREENGUARD, MADESAFE, Oeko-Tex 100, Floorscore, the CARB standards for formaldehyde…and the like.
The problem with these certifications is
- they are only testing a limited number of chemicals and
- they are testing these chemicals down to a level
But that doesn’t mean that they are testing all the pertinent chemicals for that particular product and it doesn’t mean that they are testing down to the level that is acceptable to your particular body.
From my viewpoint, there is a false sense of security. Consumers look at these seals and think the product is “not toxic.” But not toxic by what standard? And what else might be in the product in addition to what is tested, which is not tested?
Just this morning someone sent me info on the “healthiest” carpet pad made of GREENGUARD-certified memory foam. No, I would not recommend that.
But these certifiers seriously think that these products are OK because they are “lower emissions” than other similar products.
Better. But better enough?
* * *
Then this week another woman was asking me about remodeling her kitchen and replacing kitchen cabinets. And then someone commented on her question and said he was living with toxic kichen cabinets too because he couldn’t afford to replace them. I’m thinking about all this and then…
Over the weekend Larry and I were driving to a different farmer’s market than we usually go to because I wanted to buy some organic olive oil directly from the farmer. For all the fake olive oil on the market, I am fortunate to be surrounded by producers of olive oil. I can go walk in the groves if I want to, I actually drive by some of these groves on a regular basis, so I know where the olives and the oil come from.
So we were driving and I suddenly remembered that when I first learned that toxic chemicals in my home were making me sick, my first instinct was to remove all the toxic chemicals from my room. I was living with my father at the time, so I only had control over my bedroom. But I took all my polyester clothes out of the closet, removed all my books, removed my furnture, my bed and my mattress and all my bedding. I pulled up the carpet. All that was left was four walls and a cement floor with dried paint spatters all over it.
I was not concerned with how it looked. I was concerned with getting my body away from toxic chemicals. It was only later that I learned that in every case of poisoning the first step is to get the person away from the poison or get the poison away from the person.
It takes exposure to a poison for it to cause a poisoning. I know that sounds obvious, but it is forgotten every day. And “toxic” is just another name for poison.
So when I speak to you, my viewpoint is wanting not to reduce your exposure to toxic household products. I want to eliminate your exposure to toxics in your home. Just as I did in my own home. Just as I continue to do every day.
The goal is zero toxics.
That doesn’t mean I actually achieve this goal every moment of every day. But any time I can eliminate a toxic exposure—by any means—I will. That includes leaving a place if necessary, removing things if necessary, ending relationships if necessary…
And that’s really how I feel about how toxic-free I need to be. How toxic-free you need to be is up to you.
* * *
I want to make one more point.
We talk about “toxics” but in actuality toxic chemicals are poisons.
There are two types of poisons: acute and chronic.
Acute poisons cause immediate symptoms and are the reason for poison control centers.
Chrinic poisons create health effects over time, after being exposed day-in-and-day-out.
Let’s take formaldehyde, for example. Formaldehyde has been in use for a long time.
Here is an early warning label for formaldehyde what would have appeared on a bottle of formaldehyde:
Here are some current warning labels for formaldehyde: used in a workplace setting:
Here is the warning label for formaldehyde for a consumer product such as particleboard kitchen cabinets or permanent press bedsheets, both of which are continuously emitting formaldehyde into the air in your home.
I didn’t forget to put the warning label there. There isn’t one.
The same formaldehyde that is an acute poison is also in consumer products at levels that act as chronic poisons when you are exposed to them day after day.
This is what we are dealing with.
Years ago when I was very sick from toxic chemical exposure and struggling to get well, I kept eliminating exposures and eliminating exposures and still wasn’t getting well. But I wouldn’t give up my perfect shade of red lipstick. And finally I decided OK I have to do this. And that was it. It was the last exposure I needed to breakthrough and stop overwhelming my body. I’ve seen this over and over where there is one thing someone won’t give up and when they remove that exposure their health turns around.
The moral of this story is: eliminate as many toxic chemicals as you can.
My order of priority is: first, toxic-free, then functional, then beautiful.
I always choose the least-toxic option available. When I’m at home, I pretty much eat organic, for example. When I’m traveling I’ll seek out organic but it may not always be available. So then I’ll eat food with pesticides, knowing they will leave my body within a few days. But I never eat junk food. I just don’t eat if all there is available is fast food. That’s just one example of my level of choice.
Again, we each need to make our own choices about the degree of toxic exposure that is necessary to have good health or prevent toxic harm in our own bodies. Lots more information that will help you make these decision will be coming soon when I launch my new website Zero Toxics at the end of September.
A few days ago a reader comments on last week’s post Thermafoil Kitchen Cabinets and Offgassing saying:
I feel duly chastised. We too, moved into our home and didn’t check the cabinets.
We removed old carpet throughout entire home which cost a fortune to redo with tile. We completely re-did (3) toxic bathrooms, and removed tons of toxic cabinetry from the garage which was being used as a workshop. We simply ran out of money.
After we moved in, I discovered the previous owner had put these kitchen cabinets in himself approx. 5 years prior. When opening the cabinets I saw that the back part looked thin and like an mdf. Yes, mortified…
But kitchens are expensive to remodel and we had to stop somewhere.
When finances permit, I’d love to rip out these cabinets. In the meantime, I’ve gotten better living here so I will go out on a limb and say I don’t think I’m being too poisoned by them. Hence, we air out the house often and use air purifiers. For now, it has to suffice.
And I replied:
For me (and I’m not saying you have to do this), I have always operated on “get rid of the exposure first and then figure out how to replace the item with something nontoxic.” Even if that means not a beautiful kitchen, but just a make-do one.
As I’ve written before, currently I’m living with Larry’s family, helping to care for his 85-year-old mom after her husband’s death last year. She’s totally happy to share her kitchen with me, but the logistics just weren’t workable. I’m using a room in a separate building on the property for my office, and Larry built a kitchen for me in the alcove.
Perhaps “kitchen” is not exactly the right word, but it’s a food preparation area with a sink unit I got from IKEA, an apartment-size refrigerator, an island with a butcher-block top and an induction burner. I prepare most of our food here. And some used wood shelves. Investments was less than $500 and all totally nontoxic. Mostly used.
So if it were me, I would rip out your toxic kitchen and be safe, and rebuild as you can afford to.
I’ve been wanting to write about my kitchen but it’s not quite done (needs some sufficient lighting and a beautiful spice rack is in progress from Larry).
Larry put this together for me on a shoestring budget in an alcove of a room we share for an office.
We started with a wall unit from iKEA that has a sink, countertop and shelf, under $200. I’d give you the link but couldn’t find it online so maybe they are no longer selling it.
Then we installed some wooden shelves above. We just got the brackets and wood shelving at a local hardware store. No finish.
We had to do some plumbing to connect to the pipe on the other side of the wall.
We got a used apartment-sized refrigerator in perfect condition (outgassed) from a young couple who were moving and had to sell it that day. $50.
It’s sitting on top of a low wood table (you can’t see it in the picture) that was left by the roadside. Free.
The butcher block island we brought from our house in Florida. Originally about $200 from IKEA but I consider it free because we had been planning to sell it.
Around the left corner there is a tall and wide solid wood shelving unit that we got free just for hauling it away.
We already had the induction cooktop from our kitchen in Florida, and our dehydrator (which at the moment is dehydrating organic peaches from the farmer’s market), and our toaster oven. If we need a full size oven we use Larry’s mom’s oven in the main house.
All of this for less than $500. Perfect? No. Workable? Yes. And totally toxic-free.
It can be done when toxic-free is your priority.
I want to be clear this is temporary. I’ve also remodeled some beautiful full-size toxic-free kitchens.
But the point is, I make toxic-free my first priority. Always. And so my exposure to toxic chemicals is extremely low and infrequent.
New Fragrance Studies from Anne Steinemann + A Call for Ingredient Disclosure for Fragranced Consumer Products
This week Professor Anne Steinemann, who has been a champion for the elimination of scented products, has released some new studies that are very interesting
Fragranced baby products (both regular and “green”) – nearly all products emitted chemicals classified as hazardous, with no significant difference between the regular and green products.
Essential oils (both regular and “organic”) – all essential oils emitted chemicals classified as hazardous, with no significant difference between the regular and organic products.
Regulation of fragranced products – no law requires disclosure of all ingredients in a consumer product in Australia, or of any ingredients in a mixture called “fragrance”.
Here’s another paper related to fragrance from a different source. This one is about the need for more ingredient disclosure for fragranced consumer products.
And here’s another from Professor Steinemann on indoor air quality at a university:
Indoor air quality at a University – the green building had some of the highest levels of pollutants