Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Non-Toxic Home Environment

I've been a fan of safe, non-toxic, cleaning products for awhile now.  I kind of fell into it by accident after I  became acquainted with  environmentally safe cleaning and personal care products through a business associate. I've been using these kinds of products for awhile now (like 15 years!).


I'm so used to non-toxic products around me in my home that I can physically tell when I come into contact with products that have chemicals b/c my body reacts to them.  For instance, when I walk down a supermarket isle with the laundry detergents and household cleaners, I can smell it very strongly and my throat starts to feel funny and my head begins to hurt.  I can tell when I am drinking from a glass that has been washed with a soap that has chlorine in it because I smell it on the glass and taste it.  I can tell when someone sprays an "air freshener" with chemicals in it vs. an air freshener that is natural. It's true that once you go natural, you then realize what you were exposing yourself and your loved ones to and you don't want to go back.


However, it wasn't always like this .  My dear mom always used Lysol in the bathroom when cleaning.  We used Tide for laundry detergent and Palmolive dish soap for dishes.  And  I always had a problem with eczema.  So much so that I had to be treated with prescription creams.  I always had ear infections and sinus problems as well.   Since I've moved to safer ingredients in my home, these problems are thankfully non-existent! (I have enough to deal with, thanks!)


I have since found out that detergents have high levels of chlorine and other chemicals in them.  Chlorine is  very harsh on skin and not good to breath in or ingested.  Even pesticides creep into cleaning products and hide there with long names, that no one is familiar with.  After all, home cleaning products and personal care products aren't regulated.  The words carcinogen and neurotoxin have been tossed around in association with household cleaners and thankfully, I think people are becoming aware that they need to take their safety and health into their own hands.  Because of the increased consumer awareness, we have more choices at our fingertips.  This consumer awareness hasn't come cheap, though.  Just a couple of examples are:
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  • Since 1980, asthma has increased by 600%. The Canadian Lung Association and the Asthma Society of Canada identify common household cleaners and cosmetics as triggers. 
  • There are more than 3 million poisonings every year and household cleaners are the number one cause of poisoning of children.  
It was just a month ago, in my own community, that two little girls died because there were pesticides in the home and the girls were unknowingly exposed.  I can't even imagine the parents' anguish, when they learned that this was the cause and they were the ones who had the pesticide put in.  

And just last week, I went to get my hair cut at a beauty school that was being remodeled.  They were putting finish on the flooring and there was no ventilation at all.  The fumes were overwhelming for me.  The girl who was doing my hair was about 2 months pregnant and she wasn't saying a thing, probably thinking that she shouldn't make a big deal about it.  Well, I said something.  I told her that she had an unborn baby to think about and these fumes were obviously very strong and overpowering and dangerous.  She then told me that she felt like she was going to faint.  I  told the supervisor about how both she and I were feeling. After one phone call to another supervisor, I was rescheduled to come back at which time I will be comped for my haircut and the pregnant stylist was given permission to go home until the fumes weren't as potent  She gratefully accepted.  But we certainly need to speak up and be proactive about what we will and will not have around us in our own environments. 



I urge you to think about what you use in your home and make a difference by saying NO to toxic chemicals in all their forms and instead, use either homemade or certified non-toxic cleaners.
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