Normally I look forward to autumn: kids back to school and still warm enough to camp on weekends. But this year, fall’s flow is erratic with COVID testing, worrying whether kiddos’ runny noses are “just colds,” second-guessing (ourselves or others) despite protocols, precautions, available data…How do we cope?
One reliable way is to create a home environment that feels safe, calm, and grounded in our beliefs and knowledge about wellbeing. Sure, we can support our bodies by eating abundant nutrient-rich, colorful foods; drinking filtered water; sleeping well; prioritizing movement in clean air; maintaining a hopeful mindset; and stressing less. But these preventative measures will not be enough unless we offset toxic burden.
With over 4 million chemical compounds identified as “exogenous toxins” and over 200 synthetics detected in Americans’ bodies, reducing exposure to toxins is paramount to our health. Most pesticide exposure comes from contaminated food and drinking water (addressed in previous articles) and toxins abound in environments where we spend the most time—at home, in yards, at work, in cars.
An assessment of 10 areas of exposure—addressing chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in the home environment—will help us identify where we can reduce toxins.
• Food Containers. Buy food in BPA-free cans and plastic. Ideally, shop glass containers or bulk bins.
• Nonstick Cookware. Replace pots, pans and other cookware containing Teflon, perfluoroalkyl (PFOA) or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors—with stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic or stoneware.
• Household Cleaning Supplies. Replace those containing 2-Butoxyethanol (window, multipurpose cleaners), ammonia (bathroom, window, jewelry cleaners), bleach and chlorine (scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners) with all-natural products containing soap, vinegar, lemon juice, essential oils, or Borax.
• Yard Chemicals. Don’t use them. They pollute air, water, soil, your vegetables and you. Embrace pollinator-attracting dandelions and clover. Grow pest-repellant plants.
• Home Products & Furniture. Couches, flooring, cabinets and more contain formaldehyde, lacquers, flame retardants and other known carcinogens. Buy natural, furnishings (read listed chemicals) or used furniture (that has been aired out).
• Scented Things. Replace air fresheners, deodor-izers, moth repellants, even candles infused with dibutyl phthalate, p-dichlorobenzene and “fragrances”—which increase cancer risk—with essential oils.
• Air Filtration. Easy! Freshen air by opening windows (even in winter).
• Personal Care Products. Read labels. Replace shampoo, soaps, deodorants, lotions, sunscreen, toothpaste, make-up and other beauty products containing benzophenones, diethanolamine (DEA), ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, lead, paraben, paraffin, petroleum, phthalates, siloxanes, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (SLS, SLES), and triclosan (wow). These are known irritants, carcinogens and/or endocrine (hormone) disruptors.
• Travel & Recreation. Limit time on golf courses (which use four times as many chemicals as conventional farming) and parks that smell “off” (chemicals!). Prioritize walking or riding a bike. With hobbies, choose toxin-free products (glues, varnishes, etc.).
• Reduce EMFs. Limit exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (radiation). Unplug your modem at night, set phones to airplane mode, and place Wi-Fi connected devices away from your body whenever possible.
Overwhelmed? So is your body! Choose one area that feels most doable. Start reducing toxins this week.
Jamie Truppi, MSN, is an integrative nutritionist focusing on functional foods and family wellness.