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Our Decision to go Chemical Free/Non-Toxic (including fragrance free)

Posted Jan 24 2011 4:30pm
When we started the remodel of our house 3 1/2 years ago we decided to go non-toxic.  I had already been diagnosed with Lyme Disease and while I hadn't yet developed MCS, we were beginning to learn about the detriments of many chemicals - especially those used in building.  Hubby searched for building materials that didn't off-gas, including paint, treated wood for the balcony, insulation, etc.  As time has gone along, we've discovered more & more how bad the chemicals & toxins in daily life can affect not only my health, but the whole family's health in general and decided to make our house completely chemical free.  That includes personal care products, cleaning products, clothing and every aspect of daily life.  Only a small part of this decision is attributed to my illness.  We, obviously, think everyone should live a toxic free life.  Here are our reasons:


First & Foremost, toxins are bad for everybody. Even if a healthy body is able to detox chemicals, it doesn't negate the fact that the body is still exposed to the toxins.  The body absorbs them just as much as if they'd been eaten. The body works hard to detoxify and many times is unable to remove all the toxins. The residual amounts of chemicals that remain may not cause any symptoms at first, but research suggests that it can eventually become harmful. Numerous studies have shown a positive correlation between the increasing use of toxic chemicals in our society and the increased prevalence of cancer and other terminal diseases, irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic diseases, as well as childhood learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and even autism.  In addition to the illnesses & symptoms that area associated with chemical exposure, a person can become chemically sensitive from one high-does exposure or from low-level cumulative exposure.  It's the constant low-level exposure that is more likely.  For a listing of symptoms & diseases known to be linked with toxins, visit The Naked Truth website .


Second, chemicals are not regulated by any governing body. There are over 80,000 chemicals currently used in consumer products, with little to no testing done on the vast majority of them.  Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.  In the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.  A review of government records shows that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not assessed the vast majority of these chemicals for safety, nor have most been evaluated by a safety review panel or any other publicly accountable institution.  What's more, manufacturer's aren't always required to put specific ingredients on the label and can simply list generic terms, such as "fragrance" as an ingredient to mean a whole slew of chemicals associated with health concerns and potential effects on the endocrine system or reproductive toxicity. The FDA lacks the authority to require manufacturers to test cosmetics for safety before they are sold to consumers. As a result, people using chemically-laden products are unknowingly exposed to chemicals that may increase their risk for certain health problems.  To read more about the chemicals used in cosmetics, view the  Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' "Not so Sexy" webpage .


Third, there are known environmental issues with almost all of these chemicals.  There is no shortage of information about the current environmental crisis and it is well known that we are polluting our environment, depleting our resources, and damaging our climate. There is a lot of talk about oil-drilling, tree-cutting, car exhaust, and smog, and very little discussion of the fragrances and chemicals we use every time we take a shower or clean our house. To be an environmental advocate, it's also important to think about what going into the air. If everyone were to consciously choose fragrance-free, non-toxic alternatives for their personal care and household use, our total environmental load would be significantly reduced. For more information about the specific environmental effects of fragrances and other chemicals, check out the websites for the  Environmental Protection Agency  and the  Environmental Working Group .


Summarily, for our family with little kids, we decided it was best to limit their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, protecting them as best as we can & preserving their future environment.  We may have started this endeavor b/c of my particular health issues, but it has opened our eyes to the many, many dangers of daily exposure to chemicals.


To learn more, I encourage you to read the Think Before You Stink website , especiallly the sections "Can You Avoid Chemicals?", "Why Is Fragrance-Free, Non-Toxic Living So Important?", and "How to Go Fragrance-Free/Non-Toxic."

Two additional sources of information are:

1)      The Toxic Danger of Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets  - Many laundry detergents, dryer sheets, and liquid fabric softeners contain extremely harsh chemicals, including several that are neurotoxins, narcotics, and carcinogens, and even two that have been listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hazardous Waste List.

2)      The Perils of Plastics  - An April 2010 article in Time Magazine written by Bryan Walsh. The headline reads “Chemicals in plastics and other products seem harmless, but mounting evidence links them to health problems – and Washington lacks the power to protect us.” (This link takes you to Time's home page - enter "The Perils of Plastics" into the search field.)
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