When you are trying to heal a child whose body has an amazingly high toxic load, it kind of has to be a two-pronged approach. First, unblock the body’s natural detoxification pathways. The body is an amazing organism. Fully expecting to be bombarded with toxic insults, it has a system for detoxing chemicals that didn’t even exist a generation ago. Detoxification pathways are a blog in themselves, so I will save that for another post. The second thing that needs to be done is to stop the flow of toxins into the child’s body. Sounds simple – just stop putting toxins into your kid. But wait – there are countless sources for toxins: food, air, water, soil, medicines, soaps, coatings on cloth for clothing and upholstery. Still, it shouldn’t be THAT hard – they must be clearly labeled, right? I mean, who would WANT to put an untested and potentially toxic chemical in something a child might use?
If you hang out on FB much, you see pictures like this:
You may think that the folks posting these images are alarmists, but there is truth behind these posts. There are ingredients in personal care items, household items, cleansers, lawn and garden care products that are cancer causing/neurotoxins/hormone disruptors or just plain not tested alone or along side other chemicals (the way they are mostly used). Basically, if it’s not food or a drug, very little is done to test the safety of the chemicals that go into the product.
Let’s just talk about personal care products for a moment. Other than food, these are the products that have the most access to our bodies. We don’t eat them, but they go on our skin. The skin is an awesome delivery system to the body, it is routinely used for the delivery of some drugs. (Think smoking cessation, birth control or pain relief). In this April 14th article, Think Those Chemicals Have Been Tested?, Ian Urbina lays the truth bare for us – industrial chemicals do not have to be tested for safety in order to be used. (Gasp!) The burden of safety falls to the EPA to review chemicals for safety. Laughably, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, Urbina illustrates the ultimate Catch 22, because “the EPA can’t even require testing to determine whether a risk exists without first showing a risk is likely”. Read that again. Yes, you read it correctly. That’s our government at work to protect us. In fact, the EPA has only successfully banned FIVE (out of over 85,000) chemicals, and those bans were typically for specific applications or uses, not outright bans. So when you hear about activists calling for Johnson & Johnson to remove a formaldehyde activator or carcinogen from their baby shampoo, don’t automatically poo-poo it as “granola mom hysteria.”
It’s real. Now that we’ve learned to read our food labels (we all know that “natural flavor” means MSG, correct? And that “malt” and “spelt” are a no-no for those avoiding gluten?), we need to read our personal care labels (realizing that not every ingredient has to be labeled for non-edibles).
Here are the main chemicals to be on the look out for in your cosmetics (bookmark this – I constantly have to read and re-read).
Here are the top chemicals to avoid in household cleaners. I really like “The Story of Stuff”– it’s a short, clever video showing how our economy has been influenced. The follow up “The Story of Cosmetics” was equally interesting. My two favorite points are: Not only are we, as consumers, being ‘polluted’, but the workers at the factories are being polluted, as is our environment. These companies are given a free pass to do this polluting. As citizens, it sometimes feels like we have so little say when we go up against a multi-million dollar company or even worse, a multi-billion dollar industry. But as CONSUMERS we do have more power. We can vote with our hard earned cash. Don’t buy that toxic crap. Recently, due to pressure by consumers, J&J has pledged to remove toxic chemicals in their Baby Shampoo – ingredients that were not even listed on the label. Freakin’ baby shampoo! SMH.
As I read more about these substances in everyday products in my household, we slowly made changes. SLOWLY. Seriously, does the thought of changing yet another thing in your life cause heart palpitations? Believe me, the time it takes to track down the products, go to a different store to get them, pay a little more, etc. can really blow your weekly schedule.
But we did it in baby steps. We identified a couple of products we thought we’d replace, and tried alternatives to be sure they would work for us. Then we bought – in bulk, to cut down the cost – less toxic sensitive-skin baby wash and shampoo. We replaced our moisturizer with pure almond oil and coconut oil (my new wrinkle cream).
Next we tackled the home cleaning products. Be forewarned that the “eco-friendly” cleaners are gearing their ingredients to be kind to the environment, not necessarily your body. So double check those ingredients against chemicals to avoid. With the change in my household cleaners, I think I’ve saved enough money to more than make up the difference in the personal care products. Homemade household cleaners are so inexpensive to make. I started with this guide. I bought a couple of squirt bottles, some essential oils, borax, baking soda and liquid castile soap. Except for the baking soda, I’ve had most of these supplies for over a year. How’s that for economical? For laundry, I use equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar for each large load. I never thought it would get my laundry clean, especially during the smelly summer months, but it does. Plus, my washing machine smells great, and that is no easy task. My machine is 40+ years old. The repair man begs me to let him know if I ever want to replace it because he will take it in a heartbeat. But it wasn’t smelling exactly…fresh. Once I started using the baking soda/vinegar laundry detergent, I never had that problem again. There are fancier laundry recipes – but…baby steps…I can only manage the simplicity of this detergent recipe right now.
There is NO WAY you can remove every toxic insult from your environment, but you can pick certain areas of your family’s life in which you can lessen the load. Whether it’s water filters, organic root vegetables, food made from scratch or any of the ideas discussed above, it really does come down to you doing what is best for your family in terms of what chemicals you want to be exposed to or protected from on a regular basis. The government really can’t or just won’t do it. It is either too complex a job to regulate all these chemicals or there are just too many competing interests. The era of Uncle Sam as a protector is over, and we all need to do what we need to do to keep our families safe.
And it all starts with a little reading.
~ Luv Bug
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