Environmental Toxins

We are surrounded by environmental toxins. So what is the big deal and why are we concerned? They are cancer-causing chemicals and endocrine disruptors that may cause distress or disease to our bodies. Patricia and Angela will discuss simple ways to reduce your everyday exposure. 

Patricia Clark Angels MacRitchiePatricia Clarke Dip. Nat. Nut.and
Angela MacRitchie Dip. Nat. Nut.

Chemicals in the air that we breathePatricia and Angela want to share some startling statistics that will show you why we are as passionate about minimising or cutting out as many environmental toxins as possible.

In 2005 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) - a non profit environmental research organisation in the USA - found 287 toxins in the blood samples of newborn babies, of which 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals. 217 are toxic to your brain and nervous system and 208 were found to cause birth defects or abnormal development in animals.

In the UK, there was a systematic review of the Halifax project in Nova Scotia. It found 85 chemicals that have the potential to affect different stages in the development of cancer. They could possibly make changes to cells which would create particular characteristics of cancer.

We are surrounded by a chemical cocktail that is human-made, as well as natural, that disrupts our sensitive biological systems. Chemicals can be found in everything we eat, everything we drink and even the air that we breathe. The body will try to deposit these compounds into tissues to minimise their potential damage but problems emerge from high amounts and if there has been cumulative long-term or excessive exposure. Occasionally using a plastic cup will not harm you!

We cannot completely eliminate our exposure and have to find a way to deal with these toxic chemicals around us. So Patricia and Angela have put together a few simple ways to reduce everyday exposure. Make a few changes, make them slowly or make one at a time in a manageable way to decrease your risk.

PRODUCTS AND PACKAGING:

  • Processed and packaged foods often contain chemicals such as BPA and phthalates – so decrease the use of plastics and transition to glass, stainless steel and porcelain containers.
  • Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free - pacifiers, teething rings and books that are often plasticised.
  • Use glass baby bottles.
  • Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans as chemicals leach out of the plastic.
  • Look for products made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic, and GMO-free. This applies to everything you use.
  • Don’t smoke

FOODS:

  • Eat real foods that are focused on locally grown, fresh and ideally organic whole foods
  • Chose grass fed, sustainably raised meats and dairy to reduce risk to hormones, pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Wash fresh produce well especially if not organically grown.
  • Rather than eat farm raised fish (often contaminated with PCB’s and mercury) eat wild-caught or supplement with a good quality fish oil.
  • Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic and avoid plastic wrap.

WATER:

  • Filter your tap water that is used for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford one filter, go for the bath as the skin absorbs contaminants.

COOKWARE:

  • Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.

HOME

  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust. This is one of the major routes of exposure to flame retardant chemicals.
  • When buying furniture, mattresses, carpets, consider buying flame retardant free varieties, containing naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, silk, and Kevlar.
  • Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
  • Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one
  • Keep plenty of plants in your home
  • Avoid chemical air fresheners - read more about their dangers, particularly in pregnancy, here.

CLEANING PRODUCTS

  • Use natural cleaning products or make your own. 
  • Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds — even thousands — of potentially toxic chemicals.
  • Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a collection of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.

PERSONAL PRODUCTS

  • Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.
  • Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics.
  • Refer to EWG’s skin deep database to check the ratings on products before buying them.

PESTICIDE AWARENESS

The shopping list for our Equitox detox plan, uses the concept, developed by the EWG, of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen . This gives you an idea of what foods are a must-buy organic and what foods are less contaminated with pesticide residues. The EWG analyses the Department of Agriculture data about pesticide residue every year, and ranks the foods based on how much or little pesticide residue is found on them.

Here is their list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list when doing your weekly shop.

Choose 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day from EWG's Clean 15 rather than the Dirty Dozen. If you do this, you can lower the amount of pesticide you consume daily by 92 percent, according to EWG calculations.

The Dirty Dozen.

This is the EWG’s dirty dozen list, which  is the produce with the highest load of pesticide residues.

  • Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations than other produce.
  • More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide
  • One strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
  • Spinach had on average twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop

The Clean 15

This is the EWG’s list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residue. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods:

  • Avocados and sweet corn are the cleanest.
  • More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables.

Wash the produce thoroughly.

Angela and Patricia hope you have found this article helpful in making “cleaner” choices on what you use in all areas of your life. 

Angela MacRitchie and Patricia Clark

 

More information

Read more tips and articles to help and inspire you to keep to the Equitox plan here.

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