Reduce Toxins That May be Affecting Your Health

May 16, 2019 at 12:41 PM

Harmful and toxic chemicals surround us in our everyday lives. The air that we breathe, the foods that we eat, the containers and cookware that hold and prepare those foods, the water we drink, and even the products we put on our bodies and clean our homes with, may be slowly poisoning us.

These toxins affect our wellbeing in many different ways, and can damage almost every body system from the immune and digestive systems, to circulatory and endocrine systems. Most of us know what the immune, digestive, and circulatory systems do, but not many of us realize how important the endocrine system is. Responsible for producing hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood among others, the endocrine system is an essential part of how we function on a daily basis. This and the rest of our body systems can be greatly disturbed by exposure to toxins.

Essentially, toxins prevent us from operating at optimum levels, endanger our health & wellbeing, and can even shorten our life by promoting life threatening diseases such as cancer, heavy metal poisoning, neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease), respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and more.

Don’t just think that a clean home equals a toxin-free home. Today, the average home contains 62+ toxic chemicals - more than you would find in a chemistry lab at the start of the 21st century. In addition, more than 70,000 synthetic chemicals have been produced since the second World War, and less than 2% of those chemicals have yet to be tested for toxicity.

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5 of the Most Common Toxins Found in Homes  

Not an exhaustive list by any means, below are a few of the most common toxins found in homes today.  Dangers of these chemicals include, but are not limited to: damage and irritation to the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, dizziness, headaches, and memory loss, general fatigue, pain and lethargy, nausea and vomiting, unexplained weight gain, loss of coordination, anxiety, damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system, nerve issues such as numbness in the hands and feet, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, endocrine system damage (especially dangerous in babies and children), damage to the reproductive system (in pregnant women and also the developing foetus), miscarriage and birth defects, abnormal heart rhythms, and increased risk of cancer.

1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)  

A group of chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature and bring pollutant gases into the home, VOCs can be found in deodorants and other personal hygiene products, synthetic air fresheners, household furnishings and electronics, and more. Over 400 compounds in the VOC family have been identified in the home with over half of them found in carpeting. Indoor air has been found to have 3-5 times higher than outdoor air, due to their presence in so many household products.

2. Mold and Toxic Fungus  

Mycotoxins (fungal toxins) have been found to cause an assortment of health problems even when exposed to only a small amount. Found in airborne particles from heating and air conditioning units to damp areas with frequent temperature changes (especially around windows), the molds themselves are not necessarily dangerous, but they release harmful toxins into the surrounding environment. Symptoms of mold poisoning may appear similar to those of an upper respiratory tract infection, such as the flu or common cold. One in three people have experienced an allergic reaction to mold.

3. Phthalates and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)  

PVCs contain phthalates, a class of widely used, and highly toxic industrial compounds with many uses. Found in most plastics such as plastic food wrap, food storage containers and bottles (which can all leach phthalates into our food), as well as cosmetics and baby toys to name a few, these chemicals are primarily used to soften plastics and to prolong the life of fragrances.

4. Heavy Metals  

Metals like lead, aluminium, arsenic and mercury can be found in such things as drinking water, antiperspirant, pesticides, some seafood, and lead-based paints. Common in many areas of our environment, these metals can absorb into the soft tissues of the body and cause damage on a cellular level.

5. Pesticides

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 30% of insecticides, 60% of herbicides and 90% of fungicides from indoor and outdoor insect and pest control products as well as chemical lawn treatments, are known to contribute to various cancers. Distressingly, pesticide residues have been found in 50-75% of foods (especially some fruits, vegetables and commercially raised meats).

It’s a sad fact that many of these chemicals are unavoidable in today’s society. While it is difficult to identify specific toxins in the home, here are some general strategies to reduce toxin levels in your home.

1. Use natural cleaning products in your home

2. Switch to natural personal hygiene products

3. Avoid using artificial air fresheners (plug in or spray), candles with synthetic fragrances or waxes, fabric softeners, and other synthetic fragrances

4. Avoid chemical insect and pest control products

5. Filter your tap water

6. Choose fresh, organic foods when possible and store them in non-plastic or glass containers

7. Institute a ‘Shoes Off’ policy in your home

8. Use Low-VOC paints, sealants, finishes, and carpeting

9. Ventilate and “air out” your house

10. Use toxin-reducing plants to purify the air

To learn more about how to reduce toxins in your home and make your own DIY toxin-free natural cleaning and personal hygiene products, check out our upcoming workshop on Reducing Toxins in the Home. The workshop is $60 to attend (includes supplies to make several DIY natural cleaning and personal hygiene products) and is limited to 12 people. For more information or to sign up for the workshop, click HERE. 

Tara Germain, M.Ed.

Tara, Practice Manager at Auckland Physiotherapy, is very passionate about natural health, and consults on the benefits of adding essential oils to your daily life, natural skincare ingredients, and supplementing a healthy diet with naturally sourced vitamins and minerals not readily found in much of today's food offerings.