Studies continue to show the damaging effects environmental toxins have on our bodies.
These toxins can cause asthma, allergies, mood changes, poor cognition, obesity, immune dysfunction, poor libido, and reproductive issues. They can also lead to neurological issues, cancer, diseases, and in worst cases, death.
Removing toxins from our lives completely may be impossible, but we can make changes to drastically reduce the toxin load on our bodies.
The steps below will help us limit our exposure and consumption of toxins.
Removing Toxins from Our Homes
Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by toxins in our everyday lives. Inside, our furniture, water, food, cookware, packaging, cosmetics, toys, and even air likely contain toxins. Outside, we’re exposed to environmental toxins from weed killer, pesticides, and pollution.
To reduce our exposure to chemicals, start with the easiest, least expensive adjustments. Bigger changes may require more monetary investment and planning; keep those in mind for later dates.
1. Remove shoes before walking into the house.
It’s not just dog poo we’re worried about. Our shoes carry viruses, salmonella, weed killer, pesticides, bacteria, oil, mold, heavy metals, and fecal coliform.
Speaking of shoes, they’re typically made with toxic materials or solvents such as petrochemical products like ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA), formaldehyde, chlorinated paraffins, azo dyes, chlorinated hydrocarbons, esters, and alcohols. Bactericides and fungicidesall are also used in leather tanning. These pose the most risk for people making shoes, but shoes can still off-gas. We can reduce exposure to chemicals by letting new shoes air out in the garage or outside.
2. Filter water, at least for drinking and cooking.
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed limits on forever chemicals in drinking water, those restrictions will take time to implement. Even the tastiest tap water may contain microorganisms like E. coli and Giardia, inorganic chemicals like arsenic and nitrates, organic chemicals like glyphosate and tetrachlorothylene, and disinfectant byproducts like chloroform, which evaporates in hot water and can be absorbed by skin and inhaled.
Filtering options include whole house water filters, individual faucet filters, and filtering water pitchers. Whole house filters catch the most contaminates from all sources, but are pricey. Faucet filters remove more contaminants than pitchers, but pitchers are the least expensive option.
Additionally, handwashing for at least 20 seconds with filtered water removes viruses, toxic chemicals and dust particles. Skip the antibacterial soap though, it may can contain hazardous chemicals.
3. Opt for non-toxic cookware that’s been tested.
Pure ceramic, stainless steel, and cast iron are a few of the cookware options that are free of toxins. The Food Network and Organic Authority both tested several brands for toxins and ease-of-use. Several great options are available. If replacing a whole cookware set is a bit out of budget, replace the two most used first.
4. Choose whole, organic foods whenever possible.
Our food may have chemicals from production like pesticides and herbicides, packaging, preservatives, dyes, and flavoring. Additionally, some fish like tuna is typically high in mercury and processed meats often have nitrates and nitrites that have been linked to cancer and other health issues. Some food loaded with chemicals may surprise you, such as many coffee creamers!
Inspecting labels for chemicals and hydrogenated oils and buying organic whenever possible greatly cuts toxins from the diet. Since not all places offer organic fruits and vegetables, and they’re more expensive, consider the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Annual to Pesticides in Produce. Every year, the group tests fruits and vegetables and publishes Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 reports of the produce with the most and least contaminants. For example, strawberries top the dirty list and avocados top the clean list. Just buying organic options of the dirty dozen will greatly cut toxin consumption.
5. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products and air fresheners.
Cleaning products have a scary amount of harmful chemicals. Most household, industrial, and automotive cleaners, including laundry detergent and softener, can cause respiratory problems, allergic reactions, headaches, and other issues. We can both breath them and absorb them through our skin.
To reduce these hazards yet still keep the house clean, use natural cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon or buy Safer Choice certified products. Safer Choice is an EPA division that reviews ingredients and packaging for cleaners. The EWG also tests air fresheners and finds about 3% safe to use. However, safe for us doesn’t mean safe for our pets. Many essential oils make cats and dogs very sick. See which oils are poisonous to pets here.
6. Improve indoor air quality.
Bacteria, mold, viruses, animal dander, dust mites and chemicals from paint, furnishings, and cleaners get in the air of our home and stay there, unless we clear the air. Opening windows is a simple way to get fresh air inside. When we don’t air out our homes, we trap pollutants inside.
Changing HVAC filters monthly, keeping humidity levels below 50%, and fixing any leaks will also help keep dust, mold, and mildew out of the air. Houseplants are fantastic at removing toxins from the air. For a non-living solution, air purifiers range in size, cost, and noise level. Here’s Consumer Report’s buying guide for research.Lasty, give new furniture, carpet, building materials, paint, and plastic items time to air out. Either keep items in the garage or ventilate the space for days to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic chemical off gassing. Opt for low VOC products and non-toxic furniture and mattresses whenever possible. Formaldehyde can off gas from furniture, building materials, and glue for up to five years.
The pervasiveness of toxins in our lives can be overwhelming. Yet a handful of small changes can greatly reduce them in our lives. Recently, Naturopathic Doctor Kat Boden talked to us about ways we can get toxins out of our bodies. To get her top tips, watch this video.