Toxins are everywhere – in water, air, food, and toiletries. You can even find them in clothes and dishware. The chair you’re sitting on? The paint or fabric probably has toxins, too. And while we can’t rid the environment of chemicals, there’s good news: it’s possible to limit exposure. Start with your home, the place where you sleep, eat, and bathe. It’s also where you have the most control. Not sure where to begin? Check out these steps for reducing chemical exposure, and the reasons behind them.
1. Ditch Anti-bacterial Soap
Anti-bacterial soap is designed to kill disease-causing bacteria, so it seems like a safe choice. But according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it actually isn’t.
Products like antibacterial soap, toothpaste, and body wash sometimes have triclosan, a chemical that prevents or reduces bacterial contamination. However, triclosan has been found to disrupt hormone levels. It might even make some bacteria resistant to antibiotics, making the goal of antibacterial soaps totally pointless.1
While triclosan-containing products are being pulled from the market, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Use castile soap instead. It’s simple, natural, and can be used as hand soap, body wash, and dish soap.
2. Make Your Own Deodorant
Commercial antiperspirants work because they have aluminum salt, a chemical that “plugs” sweat ducts. It gets the job done, but the skin can absorb it! In the body, aluminum salt acts like estrogen and may alter DNA.2 And then there’s parabens. They’re used as preservatives but have also been found in human breast tumors.3 The link to cancer isn’t clear, but they’re certainly worth avoiding.4
Make it happen by creating homemade deodorant. Mix equal parts coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and baking soda. If you’d like, add essential oils. It’s cheap, easy, and has zero chemicals. Keep in mind that many cosmetics and toiletries also have parabens and other toxins. When possible, make it yourself or buy a natural version.
3. Buy Organic
In recent years, pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have caused quite the controversy. Pesticides are chemicals that destroy pests and germs, but in humans, they might also cause some damage.5
Additionally, animal studies have found links between GMOs and tumor development, organ malfunction, and hormonal problems.6 They can also bring on an allergic reaction if a GMO food has genes from something you’re allergic to.7
Buy organic when possible. Visit the farmer’s market to support your local community. If you have the space, consider growing your own produce. Gardening has been shown to decrease stress, so why not? 8
4. Minimize BPA Products
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic. It’s found in plastic bottles, metal food cans, cosmetics, detergents, and other countless consumer products. Unfortunately, it’s also an endocrine disruptor. This means it may harm the endocrine system, potentially lowering fertility and increasing the risk of some cancers.
Other issues, like immune and neurological problems, might also develop. For pregnant women, high BPA exposure is linked to birth defects.9 Needless to say, BPA is something we can do without. It’s hard to hide from BPA, but you can limit exposure. Use BPA-free food containers and read labels to when buying toys, toiletries, and home products. Instead of using commercial laundry detergent, make your own with 1 cup each borax, washing soda, and castile soap plus 17 cups water. Swap dryer sheets for wool dryer balls and essential oils.
5. Filter Drinking Water
Tap water can be laced with countless contaminants like arsenic, lead, nitrates, and radium. Sometimes, chlorine is added to kill Cryptosporidium, a bacteria that causes illness. It can lead to death in people with weak immune systems. Luckily, most cities do a good job at controlling these toxins, but it’ll differ within each area. It also doesn’t hurt to filter water once more. Use a filter pitcher or charcoal filter stick. If you can afford it, have a filtering system installed at home.10
To clean the air even further, fill your home with plants. They’ll get rid of chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene, which come from synthetic materials. Even better, the plants will create a relaxing and welcoming vibe!11
|↑1||5 Things To Know About Triclosan. United States Food & Drug Administration.|
|↑2||Darbre, Philippa D. “Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer.” Journal of inorganic biochemistry 99, no. 9 (2005): 1912-1919.|
|↑3||Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer. National Cancer Institute.|
|↑4||Darbre, Philippa D., and Philip W. Harvey. “Parabens can enable hallmarks and characteristics of cancer in human breast epithelial cells: a review of the literature with reference to new exposure data and regulatory status.” Journal of Applied Toxicology 34, no. 9 (2014): 925-938.|
|↑5||Pesticides. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑6||Séralini, Gilles-Eric, Emilie Clair, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Manuela Malatesta, Didier Hennequin, and Joël Spiroux de Vendômois. “Republished study: long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize.” Environmental Sciences Europe 26, no. 1 (2014): 14.|
|↑7||Genetically Modified Foods. University of Utah.|
|↑8||Van Den Berg, Agnes E., and Mariëtte HG Custers. “Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress.” Journal of Health Psychology 16, no. 1 (2011): 3-11.|
|↑9||Endocrine Disruptors. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.|
|↑10||Filtration Facts. Environmental Protection Agency.|
|↑11||Plants Clean Air and Water for Indoor Environments. NASA.|