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Toxic Bodies

Posted May 03 2010 12:00am
There are more chemicals in existance than I could ever count.  They are found in literally everything we use on a day-to-day basis.  But, the scary fact is that most of these chemicals have never been tested on human beings.  The companies that manufacture these items tell us that their products are safe for us in tiny amounts, but they have no proof to either support or oppose their claims.  They also can't tell us about potential long-term damages, because the products haven't been around long enough to know.

It seems like we hear studies coming out in the news every other day about recalls due to toxic chemicals or that suddenly a certain ingredient has been found to cause cancer or infertility.  Remember what happened with DDT?

The problem is that while we may think that a little bit of a chemical sprayed on our apple or a tiny amount of a toxin in our laundry detergent isn't going to hurt anything, we are forgetting that we are constantly absorbing these chemicals into our bodies in one way or another all day long - without a break.  What about the cumulative effects?

Think about your average day and look at just a small amount of your chemical exposure -

We wake up and brush our teeth in fluoride-filled water with chemical toothpastes and wash our faces with soaps full of parabens and sulfates.  We shower in a tub cleaned with bleach, using chemically treated water and rub more chemicals into our skin and scalp through washing, shampooing, shaving, and conditioning.  We then do our hair with more chemicals, inhale the fumes from hairspray, apply aluminum-filled deodorant, put on make-up, lotion ourselves with some more chemicals, spray ourselves and our lungs with some perfume and head to the kitchen for breakfast.

We then sip on our coffee (that is usually mixed with chemicals), made from tap water that is full of toxins and in a liner with paper that has been bleached.  If we drink decaf, it is usually made by taking the regular coffee bean and mixing it with a chemical solvent.  We cook our antibiotic-filled eggs on non-stick cookware or sprayed with a no-stick spray that puts more chemicals into our food.  The rest of our meal is a mixture of pesticides, herbicides, food dyes, additives, preservatives and whatever drugs were given to the animal we are consuming.  We often eat on plastic plates with plastic utensils and cups, which also put toxins into our meal.

After we are done, we wash our dishes with some more chemicals and we wipe the surfaces in the kitchen with toxic cleaners.  We may have some scented candles or fragrance plug-ins somewhere in the kitchen that we are also breathing in.

Time to head to work.  We step out of the house and onto our chemically treated lawns and driveways, buckle up into our cars full of plastic, and start breathing in the lovely fumes from all of the cars on the road.

Once at work, the smell of the industrial cleaners enters our noses and starts giving us a headache.  We go about our day, eating more toxic food and drinking more unhealthy drinks.  Throughout the day we wash our hands with more chemicals - we may even decide to coat our skin in antibacterial lotions

After work, we stop at the salon to get a quick manicure.  We breathe in more fumes while we coat our nails with chemicals.  Once they are dry, we head back to the car and decide to run through the drive-through for some dinner.  The food has all been stored in plastic, heated in plastic, and served in more plastic. 

Back at home, we decide to relax on our flame-retardant couch after dinner.  Our windows are shut, since the air-conditioning is on, so all of the fumes from the paint, fabric, carpet, plastic toys, mattresses, cleaners, lamps, candles, blinds, etc. are just circulating throughout the house.

Before bed we brush with our chemical cocktail one more time and wash our faces "clean" again.  We may take some medicine before we sleep for 8 hours on a chemically-treated pillow that was washed in detergent.
This doesn't even begin to describe our chemical exposure in a normal day.  Every new environment we enter, every surface we touch, everything we rub on our skin, every medicine we take, every food we eat - it all contains chemicals that our governmental agencies tell us are safe in small doses.  But what about the cumulative effect of all of this chemical exposure?

That may be fine for you as an adult, and you may be healthy as a horse, for now.  But what about a small child or even worse, a baby?  Not only are their little bodies less able to handle a toxic overload, which can impact their development and some theorize could be causing the increase in things like ADD, ADHD, Autism, food allergies, etc., but their environments seem to be even more toxic.

Most babies spend 24 hours a day in a chemical-filled diaper, with chemical filled creams on their skin, sucking plastic pacifiers, drinking out of plastic bottles, sucking on plastic toys, and eating from plastic spoons.  And whether you formula feed or breast feed, you are still exposing them to toxins, because most mother's milk that is tested contains high levels of chemicals and toxins, like Bisphenol A.

You may be thinking, well this is insane.  You're just an alarmist (and believe me, I'm used to being told that).  You're probably thinking that this is just the way our modern society is and if it wasn't safe, the government would be doing something about it, right?  Well, what can they do?  Our economy is based on the production and consumption of these things.  What would happen if they no longer exist?

Experts agree that something has to happen.  I recently watched a documentary called The Disappearing Male, which showed how fertility is on the rise.  The sperm count of the average man is decreasing significantly and even the size of the average male baby's testicles is decreasing.  This is due to the mother's exposure to plastics while the baby is in the womb and throughout childhood, which effect the endocrine system and reproductive growth.  This problem has been observed in animals, specifically a group of alligators in a polluted area of Florida.  You can watch the documentary here .

We tell pregnant women to limit their exposure to chemicals, because we know that these toxins can cause birth defects.  We tell them not to clean with chemical cleaners, breathe in paint fumes, eat fish that contain high levels of mercury, take certain medications, etc.  We know that it is dangerous for a fetus to be exposed to those toxins, but why would it be any different for an infant who is rolling around on a surface that was cleaned with bleach or playing in a house that is being painted?  Couldn't the fish with high levels of mercury be affecting a school-aged child that has a compromised immune system?  And what about adults - couldn't some of us be susceptible to damage too?

There just isn't enough testing done to know for sure.  Why risk it?

It's time for us to change our environments - to protect our children from the toxins we surround ourselves with daily.  Of course, we can't change all of our chemical exposure, but we can take steps to significantly decrease the amount.  It as simple as
  • reading and learning about the ingredients in something before you use it
  • choosing organic foods
  • buying paraben and sulfate free cosmetics or seeing if we can do without them
  • slowly getting rid of the plastics in our homes and trying to purchase items made out of natural materials instead
  • choosing not to treat your lawn with chemicals
  • getting rid of all of your scented candles and plug-ins
  • switching to a free and clear detergent or making your own
  • installing a reverse osmosis system for your drinking water
  • buying unbleached paper products or switching to cloth instead
  • using glass bottles instead of plastic
  • using cloth bags instead of plastic ones when shopping
  • getting rid of your plastic food storage system and replacing it with glass
  • opening your windows to let fresh air in the house
  • buying more house plants to help filter the air
  • washing your hands with natural soaps instead of using hand sanitizer
  • limiting the amount of medicine you take and trying natural medicine instead
  • cleaning with vinegar and baking soda instead of harsh chemicals
  • making your own food from scratch instead of consuming processed items
  • cloth diapering/using mama cloth
  • using natural pesticides/herbicides in the garden
  • driving less
  • and so much more!  I haven't even scratched the surface!!
Just by doing one new thing or getting rid of one new thing each week, you can start to decrease the number of chemicals and toxins that you and your children are exposed to on a daily basis.  Remember that many of the popular chemicals that we use are fairly new and we may just now be starting to see the long-term effects of their usage.  Our children deserve the best chance at a healthy life that we can give them!

-Jessica
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