I guess I'd call myself a latent environmentalist. Several years ago our community started a recycling program for plastic containers, aluminum cans, papers, magazines, and cardboard. Once I started collecting these items, I first noticed that we were putting out fewer bags of trash each week. Then I noticed what a large quantity of recyclables we were accumulating every two weeks. On some pickup days, the bags were so full we couldn't even tie them closed. This made me start thinking, if our family of four was producing this much recyclable "trash" every couple weeks, what would the entire town produce? Granted, I live in a small town of about 20,000; but 20,000 times what we were collecting would be staggering! It made me even more determined to recycle every single item I possibly could. I was determined to do everything in my power to help clean up our environment, as well as not contributing to further pollution.
In the past few months I've become aware of an even more serious form of pollution or contamination. That is the contamination of our bodies by chemicals in the products we use in our homes each and every day. I recently signed on as a representative for a company that specializes in replacing our everyday products with safer, healthier products in an effort to remove toxins from our environment and, thereby, from our bodies. This led me to do a great deal of research of my own and what I found truly astonished me.
I home school my two daughters, so one day for a science project we gathered all the cleaning products and all the personal hygiene products in our home and listed all the ingredients from the labels. We then looked up all those ingredients on the Internet. What we found were ingredients that are known carcinogens: ingredients that can cause physical problems like liver disease, pancreatic problems, birth defects in pregnant women, etc. Now, I know you're probably thinking these were only in the cleaning products, but you'd be dead wrong. They were also in the shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, lotions, etc.
Did you know that your largest living organ is your skin? Did you also know that your skin is like a sponge - absorbing whatever it comes in contact with? Think about all the medications that now come in "patch" form for absorption through the skin. Now think about all the products that your skin comes in contact with: laundry detergent, bleach, dry bleach, fabric softener, floor cleaners, bathroom cleaners, dish liquid, dishwasher detergent, soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, hair spray, etc. Now imagine all the toxins contained in those products being soaked up through your skin and being transported all through your body.
There is a recent study that shows women who stay at home/work at home have a 54% higher rate of cancer death than women who work in corporate America. (Please Protect Yourself From Household Toxics, by Debra Lynn Dadd). The only explanation is our extended exposure to all these toxic products. An EPA report to Congress revealed that one of the nation's most serious environmental health problems is indoor air pollution. Have you ever noticed when you walk down the cleaning products aisle at the grocery store that you can smell the cleaners? This is called out-gassing. Even though all the containers are tightly sealed and some with an extra safety seal inside the cap, the chemicals still leach out into the atmosphere, and in the enclosed conditions of the store we can smell them very strongly. So now we buy those products and bring them home into an even smaller atmospheric environment. Whether or not we notice the out-gassing smell at home, it's still there. In fact, it's stronger now because we've broken the seal on the container. Needless to say, we're inhaling these fumes day in and day out. That's in addition to coming into physical contact with the product. So we can see the connection to the study just mentioned.
I could go on an on with this information, but instead I'd like for you to do some research on your own to verify in your own mind that these statements are true. I've listed several reference sites at the end of this article. Now if you think I was surprised and motivated by the recycling process, this information has made me a crusader. It truly irritates me that manufacturers continue to use these toxins when they know they're dangerous, and especially since they don't need to use them. We all need to check into the facts and start paying attention to what's listed on the label of the products we're bringing into our homes.
I mentioned earlier that I had recently become a representative for a health and wellness company, and that they are dedicated to helping people replace those toxic items with safer, healthier products. I have been so impressed with their products that I now can't imagine living without them. If you'd like more information about these products, you can go to http://pamo.healthyhometour.com or http://pamo.toxinchecklist.com. Even if you're not interested in these products, I strongly urge you to visit the sites listed below, educate yourself, make your own judgment and take your own action to protect yourself and those you love.
1. American Association of Poison Control Centers, http://www.1-800-222-1222.info/stats/home.asp
2. Judith Berns, "The Cosmetic Cover-up," Human Ecologist 43 (Fall 1989)
3. BodyBurden study, http://www.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden/es/php (Jan. 2003)
4. Nancy Sokol Green, Poisoning Our Children (The Noble Press, 1991)
5. Exposure of Homemakers to Toxic Contaminants, Toronto Indoor Air Commission, 1990.