Reducing Your Exposure to Chemical Toxins
We have become a nation reliant on potentially toxic chemicals. These substances are everywhere we look. Startling statistics provided by the Cancer Prevention Coalition state that there are approximately 70,000 chemicals in commercial production today. Of these, 600 have been identified as carcinogenic, and most of them can be found in everyday household products that we use regularly and in our food supplies. What is even more surprising is that the majority of chemicals approved for use in these readily available products have never undergone long-term testing to determine the effects they have on our bodies and our health. While this is a larger issue that needs to be addressed, there are steps we can take to limit the chemical exposure to ourselves and our families within our homes.
While it may be difficult to eliminate all chemicals from your life, getting back to basics is a great way to begin reducing your exposure. Nearly every household product or food item on the market today has a more natural or organic alternative. These alternatives are not just safer for you; they are healthier for the environment as well. And in almost every case, these options are very basic and take us back to a simpler time, but they work.
How do I reduce the chemicals in my food?
There was a time before mega-marts when people shopped for their food from local farmers. In most cases, the produce, meats, and dairy that people purchased were grown locally and did not have the abundance of antibiotics, hormones and pesticides that plague our food supply today. People did not buy processed foods in mass quantities exchanging quality for convenience.
It is nearly impossible to check off a complete grocery list in an average grocery store while avoiding artificial flavors, preservatives, dyes or other chemical compounds. The best solution to this problem is to grow your own vegetables or subscribe to a Community Supported Agriculture program. Participation in a CSA can be fun and healthy for the entire family, adding exercise and “together” time as well.
When possible, shop as locally as you can. The area you live in certainly dictates the availability of reputable organic products, but more organic markets are popping up all the time. However, until the demand for natural and organic products becomes much stronger, these products will probably remain more expensive than the standard versions available at the larger retail outlets.
Most of us, however, must still depend on purchasing the majority of our essentials through a chain supplier. Shop at local farmers markets when they’re available, research which chemicals to avoid and check your labels before purchasing. The best we may be able to do here is to learn which chemical compounds to avoid.
How do I avoid genetically modified foods?
This is especially difficult in the U.S. because such a great majority of our vegetables come from genetically modified crops. Currently there are no labeling requirements for the companies that supply these food items. Learning more about genetically modified food products is another great step you can take in your own home to help your family stay healthier in our modern world. You can become involved in the effort to label genetically modified products so that we all may be better informed of our options.
What about my water?
Our water supply is tainted not just because of the numbers of chemicals used to treat water at municipal treatment facilities, but we also poison our water every time we rinse a cleaning chemical down the drain in our kitchen sink. All the chemicals we use to clean our homes and our offices end up in our ground water.
Consider installing a water filtration system at your home and office. There are whole house systems but there are also good options that attach directly to your faucet or filter drinking water in a pitcher system. Pur and Brita are two good options that are available almost anywhere.
What about the rest of my home?
One of the biggest culprits of chemicals in your home is the arsenal of cleaning supplies that is probably stored under your kitchen sink. Reduce your exposure to these toxins by buying cleaners that are eco-friendly such as Seventh Generation. Better yet, consider green cleaning products that clean without any chemicals at all. NORWEX makes a line of products that enables you to clean your home in a truly chemical free way.
You can also make your own household cleaning supplies. This saves a great deal of money, as well as reduces your exposures to harmful toxins.
Cook on stainless steel, cast iron or ceramics. Teflon is a carcinogen and releases harmful chemicals when heated.
Use your stove top or oven and reduce your microwave usage. Studies show that heating plastic in a microwave (or dishwasher) can cause dangerous, long-term side effects.
Use glass dishes for left-overs. Recycle and save the plastic “re-usables” for other storage needs like hardware, craft items, etc.
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