Today my guest and I are switching seats—I am the guest and my long-time friend Annie B. Bond will be the host. I’m celebrating 30 years in print (it was November 1 to be exact) so we’re going to talk about where the current interest in toxics in consumer products started (with my first book) and the progress made over the last 30 years. We’ve come a long way identifying toxics in consumer products and their health effects, and many more toxic free products are available today than ever before.
Debra Lynn Dadd is the author of seven books on toxics in consumer products and safe alternatives, including Toxic Free (Tarcher/Penguin, 2011). She has compiled the largest website on toxic free living, which is the only website 100% devoted to toxic chemicals, their health effects, where they are found in consumer products, and how to live toxic free. She was named “The Queen of Green” by the New York Times (mid-1990s). Debra is the host of Toxic Free Talk Radio. www.debralynndadd.com
Annie B. Bond is the author of five books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment (Rodale Books, 2008), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010). She was named “the foremost expert on green living” by “Body & Soul” magazine (February, 2009). www.anniebbond.com
The MP3 of this interview has been lost, but will be placed here if we can find a copy.
LISTEN TO OTHER SHOWS WITH ANNIE B. BOND
- Eight Steps to Improving Your Food Choices
- Toxic Free Valentines
- Great Toxic-Free Holiday Gifts
- Cleaning for Your Holiday Party – Before and After
- Toxic Free Cleaning Basics
- Natural Solutions for Bugs
- Healthy Halloween
- Tips for a Toxic Free Home
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Toxics Then and Now: Debra Celebrates Thirty Years in Print
Host: Annie Bond
Guest: Debra Lynn Dadd
Date of Broadcast: November 4, 2014
ANNIE BOND: Hi, I’m Annie Bond and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we discuss how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic-free. And if you’re wondering whether you’re listening to the right show, Debra Lynn Dadd is the host, but today, she’s going to be the guest because we’re celebrating the fact that her books have now been continuously in print for 30 years.
Last Saturday, November 1st was the anniversary of the publication of Non-Toxic & Natural, the very first book about toxic chemicals and consumer products.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Hi, Annie. Thanks for being here today to be the host, so I can sit on the other seat.
ANNIE BOND: Oh, my gosh! Well, I’m so excited to be on this show and really honored to be the host today as you have been a huge mentor of mine as well as just a life-saving and incredibly valuable resource as the first person who actually came out with the first how-to book of non-toxic living. I just could never – I’m always forever grateful.
So please do tell us your story. How did you ever come with the idea of the first book?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, I didn’t set out to write a book. My story actually began in 1978. At the time, I was a classical musician. I played the piano. I lived in San Francisco and I accompanied a lot of classical musicians and opera singers.
And then what happened was my mother became ill with cancer. Later on, I found out that we actually were living – I grew up in an area where we were downwind from a factory. It turned out to be a cancer causer. My mother actually died of cancer when she was only 51.
And approximately the same time, I became very ill. I moved home from San Francisco. I lived in Concord, California, which is about an hour away from San Francisco. I moved home to take care of my mother because I knew she was dying.
At that particular time, my father was trying to give her some kind of alternative cancer treatment. It was very difficult to find anyone. He wanted to give her intravenous vitamin C. So he took her to a doctor who was willing to do that who was also treating people for what is now called ‘multiple chemical sensitivities’ (at the time, it was called ‘environmental illness’.
He found out that these people who this doctor was treating were being exposed to toxic chemicals and having reactions to the toxic chemicals. He kind of put two and two together and said, “This is what’s wrong with my daughter.”
He came home and he said, “Well, you know how you’re depressed all the time and you can’t think straight and all these things,” all these things that were going on with me at the time. He said, “I’m going to this doctor and there’s a whole office full of people who are experiencing exactly what you’re experiencing.
ANNIE BOND: Wow! Wow! That’s amazing.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: That’s how I found out about it in the first place. Of course, nobody was talking about toxics then. There were no books like mine. It wasn’t on the evening news like it is now.
ANNIE BOND: Yeah, sure, absolutely.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: No organizations, nothing. It was just completely like this fluke that my father went to this doctor because my mother was dying of cancer.
ANNIE BOND: And he was such a thoughtful man, your father. I mean, that was very…
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Oh, yes.
ANNIE BOND: Yeah.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t go to the doctor. This just sounded outrageous to me. It’s like these products would not be on the shelves if they were that toxic. I mean, isn’t the government doing something?
ANNIE BOND: The government protects us, right?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah. And so I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. And then there was a night where after my mother died, I was sitting, playing the piano and I was playing this very beautiful slow movement from Abram Sonata and I just started crying. I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t stop crying.
Now, my mother had just died, so somebody could look at this and say, “This is grief,” but my father looked at it and said, “She’s having a reaction.” And one of the things that he learned going to this doctor’s office was that if you’re having a chemical reaction, you can take Alka-Seltzer in the gold package and it will stop it.
And so he had bought some Alka-Seltzer. He put an Alka-Seltzer tablet in a glass of water. He gave it to me, put it on my hand and said, “Here, drink this.” I screamed and I said, “I will not drink this” and I threw it across the room and…
ANNIE BOND: Wow!
DEBRA LYNN DADD: One of the things that I learned later that one of my reactions, one of my physical, chemical exposure was that I would not help myself.
ANNIE BOND: Oh, that’s really interesting. Yeah, really interesting.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, yeah. It was like this big resistance, “No, I’m not going to do this.”
ANNIE BOND: It is completely largely temper too, yeah, right.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: And so my father, actually, he went and got another glass, put another Alka-Seltzer tablet in it, wrestled me to the floor, held my nose and poured this down on my throat.
ANNIE BOND: What? That’s unbelievable. What an incredible man! I did not this part of your story.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: He poured it down my throat. And within a minute, it was like I woke up and I said, “What just happened?”
The next day, I went down to the doctor. And of course, they tested me because at the time, they were testing (I think some doctors still do that), they tested me and found out that I was reacting to every chemical they possibly could test for.
And then they wanted to put me on the protocol of giving what are called antigens, which are small amounts of the chemicals, which are supposed to stop your symptoms. Now, it stops symptoms, but it doesn’t cure what’s going on in your body. It doesn’t reverse the poisoning.
It was that experience of trying to figure out how I could get well from this toxic chemical poisoning. That led me to start researching.
And nobody had done this research before. I had to drag myself out of bed, go down to the medical libraries, go down to the poison control centers and try to find out what are the toxic chemicals that make me sick. Where are they?
ANNIE BOND: Well, when we go back to that time, the pioneers like you almost invariably came in because of a family issue. In your case, the tragedy of your mother and your father learning. And then you had to completely start from scratch. And for those of us that came later, we didn’t have to start from scratch so much thanks to you because you really were a trailblazer in this.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Thank you.
ANNIE BOND: So tell me more about the library part.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, we go down to the library. Remember, there’s no Internet.
ANNIE BOND: Yeah. This was like 1982 or something like that?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: That was 1978.
ANNIE BOND: Oh, 1978. Oh, my gosh.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: So it was really even earlier than that. It was 1978 and I would go down to the library and there were two books that saved my life. One was – my father, again, my father thought because I had never taken chemistry in school, he thought I needed a chemistry book. So he bought the Condensed Chemical Dictionary.
And so I started with that. I would look up a chemical like formaldehyde (there were a few chemicals that I could identify). And of course, the patients in the office that are patients with me, they’re all taking about this. But we have no books, we had no guidance. All we know is these toxic chemicals are making us sick.
ANNIE BOND: Right, right.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: And so I’m starting to pick up names of chemicals like formaldehyde and phenol and I looked them up in the Condensed Chemical Dictionary and fortunately, it tells you, “This is how this chemicals are made” and it gives you a very brief, little description of health effects – very, very brief.
And so you could then go look up and say, “Well, this chemical is made from this… “and then you look up the other chemical. That’s really how I started.
And then I went to another book called The Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, which was in the reference section.
ANNIE BOND: And it’s about 17” thick. I have that one too. And that was an incredible weight.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: But I think it’s probably in every – anybody can go down to any library and it’s in the reference section. I started looking and seeing that this particular product (any product I chose) had this chemical in it. And then I would start researching the health effects and I would say, “Well, my symptoms are headache, depression, fainting in the shower, not able to sleep, blah-blah-blah…”
The one I really remember, the one that is just like the pivotal moment for me was when in one book I found that formaldehyde causes insomnia. And in another book I found, that the chemical that makes permanent press sheets is formaldehyde.
Nobody had ever put that together. Nobody had ever put that together.
And so here I was looking at health effects in one book and matching them up with what chemicals are in the products in other books. I had to go to lots of different books because I had to go to textbooks and things like that to find out what the chemicals were that were used to make consumer products and various things.
ANNIE BOND: We’re going to have to go to break now, but it sounds like at that moment, the jigsaw puzzle was starting to get put together for you.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right, right.
ANNIE BOND: I’m Annie Bond and you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is the author, Debra Lynn Dadd. We’re celebrating her 30 years of being continuously in print. We’ll be back in a minute. I’m curious to know when you started writing your first book? When did you feel like you were beginning to get it together?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, I’ll talk about that when we come back from the break.
ANNIE BOND: Sounds good. Great! Wonderful!
ANNIE BOND: Hi, you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Annie Bond. Debra and I have switched seats today. She’s the guest and I’m the host and I am just so delighted to be here to help her celebrate.
And right before the break, we were pushing towards how she started putting it all together enough where she felt she could actually help herself to the point where she got well enough to even write a book. I’d love to hear that piece, Debra.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, once I start finding out, when I found out that formaldehyde was in my bedsheets and it was making me not sleep, I immediately went and looked for any sheet I could find that didn’t have permanent press finish and there was only one brand of sheet available at the time.
And so as I started identifying things like that (the perfume I was wearing was giving me headaches and things like that), I would just eliminate that toxic exposure and very quickly, my symptoms would just go away. The first night I slept on the formaldehyde-free sheets, I actually slept. I went, “Wow! There’s something to this.”
ANNIE BOND: You know, that is such an important piece, which I want to talk a little bit if you don’t mind..
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Sure. Sure, please.
ANNIE BOND: …just about how radically and quickly someone’s body changes. I’ll tell my story later, but it took me six months. I was as toxic as you and so sick. It was unbelievable. Six months in a completely healthy home and I bounced back. My doctor said I was old enough to have a baby. I was like a plant that didn’t have water that suddenly was given water and I just bounced back. It’s awesome. I just wanted to interject the magic of this.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, that is what happens. That is what happens. People don’t realize how much exposure to toxic chemicals is affecting our health and well-being that when you start removing the toxic chemicals from your home and you start removing it from your body (which is a whole different thing), it’s so important that you’ll just bounce back.
ANNIE BOND: And I love that step-by-step thing.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah!
ANNIE BOND: The headache goes and then this…
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, it does. It just starts peeling away and you start feeling ecstatic. Really, your body can feel good even living in a toxic world if you just remove the toxic chemicals from your home and remove the toxic chemicals from your body. It makes a huge, huge difference. But anyway…
ANNIE BOND: And then you want to share it, that’s the thing.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: That’s exactly it.
ANNIE BOND: I guess that’s where the natural evolution there, right?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, that was the natural evolution because once I got well, I knew a lot of people who we were on the same situation. And so in 1982, I wrote and self-publish just a little book that was a pile of Xeroxes. It was called A Consumer Guide for the Chemically Sensitive. It was just for my friends so that people would know what the toxic chemicals are.
ANNIE BOND: I have a copy of that somewhere.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Do you have that book? I still have a copy too!
ANNIE BOND: My gosh! That was way back. I remember that now, yeah.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: And one of my patients because I was now working for the doctor advising the patients – a different doctor actually – how to clean up their homes. One of my patients was a newspaper journalist and she had a connection with a publisher, Jeremy Tarcher. She introduced me to her publisher and we did the first book, Non-Toxic & Natural, which was published in 1984. No book had come out like that.
The thing that really got them to do it was that my boyfriend at the time had written a letter to Bon Ami. Bon Ami was doing this whole campaign about, “Tell us how you use Bon Ami.” He wrote to Bon Ami, “My girlfriend this little book” and they were so impressed that they sent me on two 10-city tours.”
I got so much media exposure that that’s why the publisher picked me up. It was just a little book that – it was Xerox. They were Xeroxes. It wasn’t even published. It had a little tape binding that was covering at the staples and that’s how it started.
ANNIE BOND: Unbelievable! It’s so exciting! And so how many books have you written since then?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: I think seven.
ANNIE BOND: It’s really quite a library. I would love to hear.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Seven.
ANNIE BOND: Seven! Oh, my gosh!
DEBRA LYNN DADD: I can’t even remember them all. Let’s see, Non-Toxic & Natural, The Non-Toxic Home, The Non-Toxic, Natural & Earthwise, The Non-Toxic Home & Office, two editions of Home, Safe Home and the most recent one is Toxic-Free.
ANNIE BOND: Unbelievable! That’s just incredible. And I just remember the joy I had – so just to quickly give you a little bit of an update about myself for everybody, I had two catastrophic chemical exposures, which is different than what you had. You had a creeping up experience, right?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right, right.
ANNIE BOND: And so I became sort of a classic case of chemical sensitivity because I worked at a restaurant that had a gas leak and it sent 80 people to the hospital. And then I had a pesticide exposure that completely contaminated my house and sent me to the hospital for three months.
And so I was lucky enough to – also because of an unbelievable family member, I got to one of the first environmental medicine doctors in the world that happened to be in New Haven , Connecticut at the time.
And so I just can’t tell you what it meant to me when I found your work because I was just as desperate as I could possibly be. I could not lead a normal life.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: I understand.
ANNIE BOND: Yeah, it was a great joy for me. I remember going to listen to as if the goddess herself was emerging in Vermont. There were a number of us just hanging on every single word of yours. So thank you. It’s been really great.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. And I remember when you first wrote your first book, Clean & Green and I was very happy to write the foreword to that because…
ANNIE BOND: Oh, I was so honored, yeah.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Such a breakthrough that you did that. I had a few non-toxic cleaning products listed in my book and a few recipes, but you really were the one who did the breakthrough research for coming up with all these do-it-yourself formulas that so many people are using now.
ANNIE BOND: Well, thank you. It’s just an interest of mine. I was sort of steep to northern New England practical lifestyle and I was a hippie. I had that hippie life. It was a wonderful jumping off point for me. I almost didn’t do it because you had done such a glorious job on your own…
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Thank you.
ANNIE BOND: It was just one of those great things, one of these great synergies really. We need to go to break again. My name is Annie Bond and you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is author, Debra Lynn Dadd. We’re celebrating her 30 years of being continuously in print. And that’s just wonderful. You’ve got a great website too. Could you give that?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Oh, yes. It’s Toxic Free – I’m so accustomed to say ‘ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com’. You can go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and enter to the whole rest of the website where I have Debra’s list where it has more than 500 – it links to more than 500 websites that sell toxic-free products. And I’ve got thousands of questions on my Q&A. There’s just so much information there. There’s really no reason to live a toxic life.
ANNIE BOND: Wonderful! We’ll be right back.
ANNIE BOND: Hi, you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Annie Bond. I’m here with Debra Lynn Dadd. She and I have switched seats together today. She is the guest and I’m the host. I’m delighted to be here to help her celebrate her 30th anniversary of being in print as an expert in toxic-free living.
So Debra, I’m curious. As one of the trailblazers or thetrailblazer actually in the home particularly on non-toxic living, I wonder what do you think, do you think we’ve made any progress regarding toxic for the past 30 years?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, the answer to that is yes and no. I want to give two examples. One is that – I just looked up this morning some statistics about how the organic market, the market for organic products, organic food actually has grown. And so I’m looking at this little chart here that I got off the Internet this morning and it starts in 1990.
Now, remember, my first book was published in 1984. There are no statistics for the sales of organic food when I started. So then in 1990, they had the first. It’s zero. It’s just above zero, zero billions of dollars. Anyway, it’s grown 20% per year since 1990. So this graph goes straight up from 1990…
ANNIE BOND: Hockey stick, yeah.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah. But here’s another interesting thing. In 1990, it was just under $1 billion and it’s now $24.6 billion. Well, that as in 2008. So now, it’s 20% and 20% and 20%. But it’s only less than 3.5% of the food sales in 2008. So there’s a long way to go, but look how far it’s come. Not only do we have organic food, but we have organic cotton and we have organic personal care products. There’s just organic this and organic that. And so we have so many choices that are organic (without those toxic pesticides) that it’s really amazing!
But here’s the other side of it. There’s a website called – well, first, I should say that every chemical, every industrial chemical has a number called the – what’s it called? It’s the CAS number, but I’m trying to remember what it stands for. It’s the ‘chemical abstract service’, that’s what it is.
So if you go to their website, which is CAS.org, there’s a little counter on there. It says, “a global team of scientists is continually adding substance information to the world’s disclosed chemistry to the CAS registry.” So it has all these information. Okay! So then there’s a counter and it says ‘organic and inorganic substances’ to date.
Now, I’m reading my book, Toxic-Free, which I was writing in 2010 and I wrote, “As I’m sitting here watching this counter today, November 15, 2010, the number is 57,110,200 and counting…”
ANNIE BOND: Oh, my gosh!
DEBRA LYNN DADD: “And the time it took me to type 57,110,200, it switched to 57,110,201.” Now, what do you think the number is today, I’m looking at it right now?
ANNIE BOND: Oh, my gosh! I’m terrified. My stomach is in a knot.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Ninety million!
ANNIE BOND: Oh, gosh!
DEBRA LYNN DADD: 90,304,587 and it’s about to turn to 88 right now, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93 as we’re sitting here.
ANNIE BOND: Oh, my gosh! That’s unbelievable. And that’s really interesting what we’re discovering.
So tell me what you think. Is there any progress though in making the connection, people making the connection between the environment and health because that’s the thing I found was just like a blank wall back in the early eighties. Everyone thought I was just nuts because…
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, there’s a huge, a huge difference. There’s a huge difference. In fact, you and I got interested because there was a connection between our immune systems and the toxic chemicals. At the time, that was the big breakthrough just to talk about the one thing.
There were poison control centers, there has always been poison control centers where – well, since they started. But those are for what are called ‘acute toxics’ like if you were to drink gasoline. It’s an immediate toxic effect where you get sick or die from ingesting a toxic chemical. That’s what a poison control center is for.
But at the time, when you and I started, there was no talk of what’s called ‘accumulative effect’ and that is this slow day in, day out, year in, year out exposure that builds up in your body. When I started, they didn’t even have the term ‘body burden’, which now is the word used to describe the amount of chemicals that are stored in our bodies, but it was going on. It was going on.
The first book that I could find, it was written on Toxics for the General Public was Rachel Carson’s Silence Spring, which was in 1964. I didn’t read it in 1864. I was only what? Seven, eight years old, nine years old. But I finally read it a couple of years ago. It says in there that even in 1944, they already knew that our bodies were accumulating DDT, another toxic poison. They already knew it in 1944.
And so if you’ve seen that study from Environmental Working Group where it talks about the chemicals in the babies’ umbilical cords, that isn’t recent. That didn’t just happen. That’s been going on since 1944. They could’ve done that testing in 1944 and found the same thing.
And that means that…
ANNIE BOND: Well, one of the things that’s interesting that’s happening now I think is that – I agree, that there has been a very big increase in awareness of toxic chemicals and health, but there’s also an increase in fear. And the press is picking up on things like BPA in babies’ bottles and that’s something to be concerned about because of the endocrine disrupters. This is a whole other story.
But I think that that’s one of the values that I have found so much in your work. People can be terrified of this. I know many pregnant woman has just got into complete terror their whole pregnancy, “What if I got…?” and all that kind of thing. The wonderful think about your work is then they’re solutions that you don’t have to go under overwhelm and terror…
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yes, that’s exactly right.
ANNIE BOND: …that instead, you’ve got ideas of things you can do. And you and I both did it. We both learned how to live completely normal lives without toxic chemicals.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: We did.
ANNIE BOND: And so the solution section is just key. And really, thanks to you, you also have your Debra’s List on your website. So tell us a little bit about that because that really speaks to the solution-focus here.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, I want to say that a number of years ago, I was on Geraldo. Remember that show, Geraldo?
ANNIE BOND: Yeah, yeah.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: He would get people on the show and then he’d kind of rip them apart. I thought, “Oh, no! What’s he going to do to me?” But he kept to me to the very end. He did a show on toxics and he had all these other guests and then he kept me up to the end. He presented me like I was the saving grace angel.
ANNIE BOND: Oh, wow! Very nice.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: He didn’t say a bad thing about me at all. He just said, “This woman is coming up with all the solutions.”
ANNIE BOND: You know, we’re going to need to go to break now. I’m Annie Bond and you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is author, Debra Lynn Dadd. We’re celebrating her 30 years of being continuously in print. We’ll be right back.
ANNIE BOND: Hi, you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Annie Bond. I’m here with Debra Lynn Dadd. She and I switched seats today. She’s the guest and I’m the host because today, November 1st was her 30th anniversary of writing her first book, Non-Toxic & Natural. She’s since gone on to write a total of seven books and has an incredible website full of all sorts of resources. It’s nice to be back again, Debra.
Where do you think we’re going with toxics in the future? I mean, I think you’ve got a bird’s eye view that very, very few people on the planet about this entire situation. It’ll be really fascinating to hear that from you.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, I think that – hmmm… where am I going? Where are we going?
ANNIE BOND: Do you think we’ll ever have a toxic-free world, for example. Is there a silver lining here? I’ve given talks and people just wanted to blow their brains out after. I mean, not literally of course.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: No, I understand, I understand.
ANNIE BOND: They’re like, “Oh, it’s so depressing.” And so what do you think about the situation?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: I think we’re moving in the direction of having a toxic-free world. I’m certainly pushing it and I’m a big believer in that if we have a goal and we can take step-by-step increments towards that goal, then we can achieve that goal.
And so I know in my home, I live in a toxic-free world in my home, you live in a toxic-free world in your home, Annie and I know many of our listeners do as well. And so then it’s a matter of saying, “Well, if we could achieve that, how can we achieve having a toxic-free community? How could we look around and say, ‘Where’s the toxic pollution here?’ How can we help our neighbors be toxic-free? How can we help businesses be toxic-free?” And then it just kind of moves on and moves on.
I see things that now, countries (governments, for example) have lists of toxic chemicals that they’re reviewing and banning in different parts of the world, different chemicals, different lists. There’s like a hundred different lists of governments that are banning certain toxic chemicals.
We didn’t have that in 1984 at all, nothing. Nothing, nothing like that. We had things like green chemistry nowadays where businesses are being encouraged to eliminate their toxic chemicals and replace them with chemicals that are less toxic. We have organizations that are helping businesses and consumers do these things.
And so there’s a lot more people that are in agreement now that their toxics are a problem and that we should do something about it.
I think that it’s not that widespread where people are looking for solutions. There’s a lot more people who are promoting the problem. And then there are people who are promoting solutions. And so I just continue to promote my solutions. I just keep saying, “There’s an answer. There’s a solution. Come over here.”
But the first thing we need to do is just acknowledge that there’s a problem at all. There are still many, many people who just think that toxics are not a problem, that products wouldn’t be on the shelf because the government wouldn’t allow that. That really I think is the fallacy. That’s the myth.
ANNIE BOND: So I have a question about that then. If the – sorry, I just lost my thought about that.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: It’s okay.
ANNIE BOND: So keep jumping and I’ll come back.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Okay, so there’s so much going on in the world right now in this direction that I can hardly keep up with it. I remember when I wrote my first book, my very, very first self-published book, The Consumer Guide for the Chemically Sensitive, everything I knew on the subject fit on 3 x 5 cards and a shoebox. And now, I have a website that is so big.
I have almost 6000 posts on my website. And new things are coming in all the time, new guests for me to interview, new businesses, new products that it seems like the whole world is geared towards, “Let’s be not toxic,” but there still is so far, so much to do, so far to go, so much to understand. But at last, we’re moving in a direction. It’s not a fringe thing anymore.
ANNIE BOND: I did remember what I was saying. My question was, most of my readers, all through the nineties, I would say 90% of my readers were pregnant women actually or young mothers and so that’s a definite vertical – or people that are extremely chemically sensitive or something like that. What about the broader population? How do you feel this is filtering out to people that don’t have such an urgent need to be concerned about it in the sense that they’re worried about a baby or something like that?
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah. Well, I think that more and more people are starting to make the connection as there’s more and more general mass market kind of information out there. Another thing is when I was researching toxic-free, for a long time, I was going out on my old research that I had done back in the early eighties about what was toxic. And before Toxic-Free, I just researched everything a new in terms of what are the toxic chemicals because there’s so many new ones like in 1984.
In 1984, when I wrote Non-Toxic & Natural, I picked 40 chemicals. My whole goal of that book was just to eliminate 40 chemicals – and we didn’t even know about things like bisphenol a and triclosan and there was no such thing as indoor air pollution. All these things that we talk about today did not exist in 1984.
And so when I did this research, what I found was – and I’m going to say this slowly because it’s so important – every single body condition, every illness and every symptom has now been associated with toxic chemical exposure. You can look up anything that’s wrong with your body (headaches, stomachaches, impotence, infertility, anything, diabetes, overweight), everything is associated with toxic chemical exposure.
So there’s no question. Anything that’s wrong with your body, just start eliminating toxic chemicals from your home and your body and you’re going to get better. I can say that with confidence.
ANNIE BOND: Yeah, it’s really true. I first started giving talks about this kind of thing. I would talk about something called the ‘barrel analogy’, which was commonly used where if you spray your rose bushes, you’re going to feel the barrel a little bit. If you spray perfume and then go have cheese wrapped in plastic, put it in the microwave, you get a lot of plastic, you’re going to be continually adding to the barrel until you hit the overflow point. And that’s certainly what happened to you and I. We both hit the overflow point.
But I was giving a talk once and somebody said, “You know…” – and this is an expert in the field of endocrinology, of endocrine disruptors, these hormone disrupting chemicals and he said, “You know what, Annie though? It takes one hit. When someone’s pregnant, make it one hit of the plastic on the wrong day for that fetus, it could have incredible ramifications.”
And so, the seriousness of actually – you know what? Maybe one thing to talk about is the steps. You and I both put it together as a puzzle piece and everybody has to do things one step at a time. I mean, you can’t just overhaul your life overnight even though some people want to and try. But when it comes to certain kinds of chemicals, that’s where we’re getting into a bit of a tricky thing these days, with the plastics and endocrine disrupters. I think you have to be especially carefully.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: You do have to be especially careful. Part of that is simply information and understanding about what are the chemicals and what are their health effects and the different ways that chemicals can get in your body and all these things.
And so on the one hand, I feel like that I ought to be doing a lot of toxics education. And on the other hand, one could simply say, “If you just do all the non-toxic things, just do those and you’re going to eliminate.”
ANNIE BOND: I agree. And that’s a really nice way of doing it, absolutely.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: You don’t need to know all the lists of pesticides that are in food in order to buy organic because you’re just going to eliminate that list of pesticides.
ANNIE BOND: That’s right, that’s right. And people, to become a label reader. So that’s where you’ll start finding, “Oh, well, gosh! That is yellow dye no. 5. I think I won’t buy it,” that kind of thing.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right, right, right. You can find out as much as you want to about toxics. You can also just say – you asked me about Debra’s List earlier at DebrasList.com or you can just go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and click on ‘Shop’ at the top. You could just go to Debra’s List and just buy everything off the websites that I have listed there and you would just have a pretty toxic-free life and you wouldn’t have to know anything about these phenol or anything else.
ANNIE BOND: …which just really comes to this sort of how much you – I mean, we need to start wrapping this up. I think from my experience of seeing the body of your work over 30 years, you’ve pollinated our lives with wonderful alternatives. I think it’s just an incredible legacy of yours that you’ve been able to do that and an incredible gift to the world. I, for one, thank you so much. I know there are so many hundreds of thousands of people out there that feels the same way.
So I just want to ask you if you have any closing thoughts? I can’t thank you so much for this incredible legacy.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: You’re welcome. I want to say that it’s really been my pleasure to do it because I know that a lot of people are scared about toxic chemicals particularly if you’re just reading the newspaper or watching TV. But what this whole journey has been about for me is finding the things that aren’t toxic, finding the things…
ANNIE BOND: Yeah, that’s nice. And there’s rejuvenation there.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right. And I see that happening. I see that life basically wants to be healthy, wants to regenerate and that all we need to do is just eliminate the toxic chemicals that are working against us and then our health will be restored. I see that happen over and over again.
So actually, if you look at me and you say, “How can she study about toxic chemicals all day long every day?” That’s not what I’m studying. What I’m doing is finding the good in the world and it’s my pleasure to bring it to everyone else.
ANNIE BOND: Well, that is just a lovely way to stop here. Really, that’s just a great sentiment.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Thank you.
ANNIE BOND: So this is Annie Bond and you’ve been listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio with Debra Lynn Dadd. She’ll be back hosting the show tomorrow. Remember, you can go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and listen to the archive shows. And Debra’s also starting transcripts now, so you can read those too. There will be a transcript of the show by tomorrow. So thank you so much for being with us. Please listen again tomorrow. Be well.
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Bye!
ANNIE BOND: Bye bye, Debra. Thank you so much.