Switching to Natural Products for Your Home
You are invited to take the "Toxics Out" challenge by switching from using products containing unsafe or untested chemicals to products containing only nontoxic, biodegradable ingredients (some products labeled 'green' aren't really safe - look for green certification labels).
- Gather every product used in your home and garden that contains untested or unsafe chemicals
- Dispose of these products at your local hazardous waste facility (and/or donate cleaning products to a local home cleaning service agency)
- Replace them, where necessary, with alternatives containing nontoxic and biodegradable ingredients
To protect both our generation and future generations, each one of us must make a personal sacrifice. The sacrifice is one of time and, in the short term, money. Unsafe and untested chemicals can be found in everything from cleaning to pet care to body care products so the task of switching to safe alternatives is not an easy or quick one. Fortunately, there are hundreds of very effective, safe, and, many times, less expensive alternatives available in the marketplace. Many of these products are also cruelty-free (i.e., do not contain animal by-products and are not tested on animals) -- look for "cruelty-free" labeling.
Taking it Further
- If you work in an environment where you and your fellow workers are exposed to unsafe or untested chemicals, work with management to try to alter your company's purchasing and cleaning policies. American Dream offers Purchasing Managers easy access to green product information.
- It never hurts to share your concerns with your elected representatives.
- Eat organic produce whenever possible. Eat low on the food chain. Recent studies indicate that of all the toxic chemical residues in the American diet, almost all, 95% to 99%, comes from meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. (Source: John Robbins, Diet for a New America)
Information and Statistics
Information about Toxic Chemicals
More than 85,000 synthetic chemicals are in use today and the vast majority of them have never been properly tested for safety.
The health impact from combining chemicals is also largely untested. The detrimental effect that these chemicals have had on our health, however, is well-documented. The following books provide a clear picture of the harm these products have caused:
We should never have allowed, in the name of "progress", untested chemicals to be released into the environment and we most certainly should never have allowed the release of chemicals KNOWN to cause harm! Collectively, we need to move toward a day when releasing unsafe or untested chemicals into our environment is just as offensive and unacceptable to us as human slavery or the use of nuclear bombs.
Each time you buy a product containing unsafe or untested chemicals, you are exposing yourself and your family to the possible/known harmful effects of these chemicals. You are also exposing animals, plants, and other people to these chemicals throughout the product's life cycle -- manufacturing, use, and disposal.
Many chemicals, including a large number already known to be harmful, are classified as "persistent" because they resist the natural process of decay which would make them harmless. Known persistent chemicals include:
Studies are linking exposure to unsafe chemicals with a wide variety of problems:
- memory loss
- personality changes
- sleep disturbances
- muscle incoordination
- visual disturbances
- aches and pains
- sexual dysfunction
- disruption of the immune, nervous, endocrine, and reproductive systems
(Source: Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home).
Exposure to unsafe chemicals can also lead to a condition known as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), which can cause someone to have adverse reactions to even low-level exposures to chemicals. (Source: Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home).
Human beings are capable of creating chemicals that are safe and that do breakdown quickly in the environment -- we need to raise the bar for our chemists and manufacturers.
My wish for you is that you reach a point where you find it completely unacceptable to use ANY unsafe or untested chemicals in your home or garden. Just because everyone is doing it definitely does NOT make it safe.
Please do not ever underestimate how important taking this step can be for protecting your health, the health of your loved ones, and our planet. Mainstream media rarely reports on the dangers, or potential dangers, of unsafe or untested chemicals. This can lead to a false sense of security. However, a little independent research quickly reveals the full impact that these chemicals have had on our lives. We have been slowly lulled into accepting something that is completely unacceptable.
Statistics on Environmental Toxins:
- The following are links to search tools that provide U.S. citizens with the ability to search for environmental toxins in their neighborhoods:
- Unintentional poisonings kill an estimated 355 000 people globally each year. In developing countries – where two thirds of these deaths occur – such poisonings are associated strongly with excessive exposure to, and inappropriate use of, toxic chemicals. In many such settings, toxic chemicals may be emitted directly into soil, air, and water – from industrial processes, pulp and paper plants, tanning operations, mining, and unsustainable forms of agriculture – at levels or rates well in excess of those tolerable to human health. (World Health Organization)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated that by the year 2020, nearly one third of the world's chemical production will take place in non-OECD countries and that global output will be 85% higher than it was in 1995. The shift of chemical production to poor countries may increase related health and environmental risks. (World Health Organization)
- Each and every second 310 Kg of toxic chemicals are released into our air, land, and water by industrial facilities around the world.
This amounts to approximately 10 million tons (over 21 billion pounds) of toxic chemicals released into our environment by industries each year.
Of these, over 2 million tons (over 4.5 billion pounds) per year are recognized carcinogens. This amounts to about 65 Kg each second. (Worldometers)
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has assessed chemical exposure in the U.S. population. Reports: National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.
- Exposure to common chemicals makes babies more likely to develop an array of health problems later in life, including diabetes, attention deficit disorders, prostate cancer, fertility problems, thyroid disorders and even obesity. (Source: report by 200 scientists)
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported to Congress that our indoor air contains the nation's worst pollution. Indoor air pollution is seen as one of the five most urgent environmental problems facing the United States.
- It is estimated that 42 billion pounds of chemicals enter American commerce daily, enough chemicals to fill up 623,000 tanker trucks, a string of trucks that could straddle the globe three times, every day. Fewer than 500 of those substances have undergone any substantive risk assessments. (Source: Exposed by Mark Schapiro)
- The EPA's Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. Additional TEAM studies indicate that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed. (Source: EPA)
- In the U.S., one in every five women of childbearing age has mercury levels in her body that exceed the federal recommended limit. Coal burning power plants release 41 percent of the country's industrial mercury pollution. The air borne mercury falls into lakes, streams and oceans, concentrating in fish and shellfish, which are then consumed by people. A direct correlation was found between people's mercury levels and the amount of store-bought fish, canned tuna fish or locally caught fish people consumed. Mercury contamination is a concern for women 16 to 49 years old because mercury exposure in the womb can cause neurological damage and other health problems in children. (Source: Greenpeace Mercury Hair Sampling Project and the Environmental Quality Institute; October, 2004)
- According to the Toronto Indoor Air Commission (1990), women who work at home have a 54% higher cancer rate than women who work away from home.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that one-half of all the world's cancers occur among people living in industrialized countries (containing only one-fifth of the world's population). (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- According to WHO, at least 80 percent of all cancer is attributable to environmental influences. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- The American Cancer Society has reported that, in the U.S., men have a little less than a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women the risk is a little more than 1 in 3. (Source: American Cancer Society)
- According to the National Cancer Institute's SEER Program (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results), cancer incidence increased 49.3% between 1950 and 1991 in the United States. Childhood cancers have risen by one-third since 1950. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- Researchers are continually finding new evidence that common items in our kitchens, bathrooms and toy chests can make us sick. One of the most insidious substances is bisphenol A, a component of the light plastics used in baby bottles and many other consumer products. Over the past several years, scientists have reported that low levels of bisphenol A can disrupt cell division, leading to spontaneous miscarriages and birth defects such as Down syndrome. (Source: Scientific American, Fighting Toxins in the Home)
- Examples of occupations with higher than average cancer rates in industrialized countries: farmers and migrant farm workers, painters, welders, asbestos workers, plastics manufacturers, dye and fabric makers, firefighters, miners, printers, radiation workers, chemists, chemical engineers, dentists and dental assistants, and chemotherapy workers. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- Breast cancer rates are thirty times higher in the United States than in parts of Africa. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- A National Research Council study found that complete health-hazard evaluations were available for only 10 percent of pesticides and 18 percent of drugs used in this country.
- The EPA estimates pesticides contaminate the groundwater in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country's population.
- A study by the Environmental Defense Fund found widespread pesticide contamination of human breast milk among 1,400 women in forty-six states. The levels of contamination were twice as high among the meat-and-dairy-eating women as among vegans. (Source: Natural Health, July/Aug 1994, "Don't Drink Your Milk")
- Every year, 5 to 10 million household poisonings are reported as the result of accidental exposure to toxic products in the home. (Source: Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home)
- "Poisoning is the third most common form of unintentional death in the United States...Poisoning accounts for 285,000 hospitalizations, 1.2 million days of acute hospital care, and 13,000 fatalities yearly." (Source: Dr. Richard S. Weisman, Testimony on 10/12/99 for Subcommittee on Health & Environment)
- "The World Health Organization estimates that every year 3 million people suffer from severe pesticide poisoning, matched by a greater number of unreported, mild cases that result in acute conditions such as skin irritation, nausea, diarrhea, and breathing problems. These poisonings result in as many as 20,000 unintentional deaths..." (Source: Worldwatch Institute, "State of the World 2002")
- "The March of Dimes estimates that 200,000 live infants are born with birth defects each year as a result of parental chemical exposure." (Source: Center for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, "Disorders of Reproduction", 8/6/85)
- Young children, under 10 years of age, have a four to seven-fold increased risk of getting leukemia when they live in a home where pesticides are frequently used - in the home or garden. Childhood brain cancer is also associated with herbicides, flea collars, pesticides that target termites, and indoor pesticide "bombs". (Source: Karyn Siegel-Maier, The Naturally Clean Home)
- "There are 4 million chemical mixtures in commercial use that have never been tested for their reproductive effects." (Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, "The Effects of Workplace Hazards on Male Reproductive Health", 1996)
- "Of chemicals commonly found in homes, hundreds have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities." (Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission)
- Several European studies conducted in the early 1990s found that sperm count of the human male has dropped by half since 1938. The Los Angeles Times, in December 1984, reported that "adverse effects from [household] chemicals include reduced male sperm count, testicle atrophy and infertility." (Source: Karyn Siegel-Maier, The Naturally Clean Home)
- The National Academy of Sciences estimates that around 15% of the U.S. population suffer from some degree of "increased sensitivity to chemicals". (Source: Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home)
- "At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans." (Source: EPA)
- "[Dispose at a hazardous waste facility] partially full containers of old or unneeded chemicals...Because gases can leak even from closed containers, this single step could help lower concentrations of organic chemicals in your home." (Source: EPA)
- As of 1990, the EPA had identified 32,465 sites with past chemical waste dumping that needed to be cleaned up. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- "[The United States is] number one in hazardous waste produced (by a factor of more than twenty times our nearest "competitor", Germany)." (Source: Michael Moore, Stupid White Men)