It’s a fact of life that we are surrounded by toxic chemicals. Hazardous pollutants are in the air we breathe, the food we eat and water we drink. The toxins have been found not only in adults bodies, but sadly, in children’s bodies as well.
In routine blood and urine tests, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found the chemicals bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates in both 93 percent and 73 percent. Philip Landrigan, M.D., pediatrician and dean for global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, cautions that, “For 80 percent of chemicals in commercial use today, we have no information on the potential toxicity” “We’re flying without radar.”
Though it’s difficult to zero in on one particular toxin, one thing is clear – the rise of autism, ADHD, childhood cancer, depression, anxiety, early puberty, and obesity is growing faster than Jack’s beanstalk.
Louise Greenspan, M.D., at the University of California, San Francisco, believe the these the most toxic hazards: fire and flame retardants, phthalates, triclosan, BPA, pesticides, detergents, heavy metals like lead and cadmium, to name a few. “You need to remember that there are things you can do to limit exposure and that healthy factors can counterbalance the harm of chemicals—most important, a loving, supportive family environment and a nutritious diet.”
Here are some ways to protect your body from our often toxic environment:
- Buy local and organic. If there are pesticides and toxins in our food you can be sure they’re in our body. However, in a promising study at Harvard University and the University of Washington, researchers substituted children’s typical diet for organic food for only five days and what they found was…exciting! The metabolites for organophosphate pesticides disappeared from their urine and stayed that way until they started eating their conventional diet again. Eating local and organic ensures safer food, supports your local organic farmer and protects the environment.
- Keep house plants. Adding a few plants to your home can change the air quality dramatically. Plants filter out pollutants in the air better than air filters and provide us with vital oxygen. Simple house plant trick – water when the soil is dry, if the dirt is wet – leave it alone.
- Filter your water (showers and all). If you must drink your tap water, try and score a reverse osmosis system or atleast the built-in filtering water bottles which won’t break the bank. Check out your water district’s Consumer Confidence Report to view levels of contaminants in your drinking water, warns Johanna Congleton, Ph.D., a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group. “If you’re concerned about what you see, there are lots of filter options that range in efficacy and price.”
- Ditch non-organic meat. Avoid eating meat from animals that are injected with hormones and fed an unnatural diet. If you are a die hard carnivore and must eat flesh – go for organic cage-free meats and grass-fed beef. “Antibiotics appear to act like hormone-disrupting chemicals,” says Deardorff.
- Go glass. BPA is a scary, scary chemical found in many plastics and cans. The effects of BPA are just starting to be exposed and what the chemical does in animal testing is horrifying. Make sure you buy products and containers labeled BPA-free. FYI – most canned foods are BPA-infested…stay away!
- Vacuum and change the filter regularly. “Household dust is a major vehicle for kids’ chemical exposures,” says Julie Herbstman, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
- Dust with a damp rag often. Typical feather dusters can spread dust around. Instead opt for a wet rag or a damp sponge to clear out dust particals.
- Avoid burning chemical candles and fires indoors. “Things you burn may contain potentially harmful chemicals,” says Herbstman He also recommend using a HEPA filter to clear indoor air pollution.
- Use all-natural cleaning products. “Conventional ones contain dangerous chemicals that you don’t want kids exposed to,” says Dr. Landrigan. You can even make your own cleaning products with stuff from your pantry like baking soda, lemon juice and essential oils