Toxins are often unavoidable in everyday life, but some simple changes could greatly reduce the number of toxins that you encounter throughout the day. This year I implore you to challenge yourself to have a less toxic year. Leave the gym and diet filled New Year’s resolutions in 2017 and this year vow to limit the toxic exposure in your home!
1.) BPA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified detectable levels of BPA, in 93 percent of people tested. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a chemical that is used to make shatterproof plastics and plastics that contain the chemical are labeled as a number 7. The effects of BPA are yet to be fully understood as just 40 years ago BPA was not in consumer products. Studies have shown that elevated rates of BPA are linked to the development of breast and prostate cancer, asthma and cardiovascular problems. Prenatal exposure to the chemical has also been linked to aggression and hyperactivity, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study of 2-year-old girls. Rid your home of number 7 plastics to avoid BPA exposure – a switch to glass or metal reusable containers and bottles could easily quell any risk of exposure.
2.) Asbestos: A known carcinogen, asbestos, is commonly found in the home. The microscopic fibers were used heavily in building materials in the United States throughout the 1970s. The fibers were an attractive option because of its ability to resist fire, heat, and electricity. Unfortunately asbestos is also the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer, a disease that occurs when asbestos fibers are released into the air, inhaled, and then embed in the lining of the lungs. The cancer can develop in the lungs, abdominal cavity, heart, and testicles. Mesothelioma has an extremely poor prognosis with most patients only living 12 to 21 months following diagnosis. Currently, there is no cure so awareness and prevention are paramount. If your home was built prior to 1980, it is suggested that a certified asbestos specialist inspect your home.
- Ceiling/Floor Tiles
- Vinyl Flooring
- Roofing, Shingles, Stucco
- While abatement projects may be an annoying cost to bear now, it could save you and your family from battles with cancer and immense medical costs down the road.
3.) Radon: This radioactive gas is released from the elements in rocks and soil. Radon is dangerous because it’s odorless, tasteless, and not visible to the eye. It usually exists in low levels outdoors, but indoors with poor ventilation radon levels can accumulate. Radon can enter the home through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations, and collect, elevating the indoor levels. It can also be released from building materials, or from water obtained from wells that contain radon. Levels are higher in homes that are well insulated, tightly sealed, or built on soil rich in the elements uranium, thorium, and radium. Basements and first floors typically have the highest radon levels because of their proximity to the ground from which the gas emanates.
Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer, as scientists estimate that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon. A combination of smoking – the number one cause of lung cancer – and exposure to radon creates the greatest risk of lung cancer. Radon-related cancer deaths most often occur among smokers, but it is estimated that more than 10 percent of radon-related cancer deaths occur among nonsmokers.
Testing your home is the only way to know your level of exposure. There are two different types of radon tests – short and long term. The short term radon tests measures radon levels for two to 90 days, whereas the long term tests determine the average level in a 90 day period. Longer form tests are more accurate as radon levels in the home tend to fluctuate depending on rain or snow, barometric pressure, and other influences. Additionally it is important to test your own home and not base your safety on a neighbor’s radon results. Homes right next door to each other can have drastically different radon levels which can create a false sense of safety.
4.) Polluted Water: Water may seem like the purest possible element, however, between 2010 and 2015 the Environmental Working Group collected data from 48,721 water utilities in 50 states in which they found over 250 different pollutants in U.S. tap water. Results for each municipality can be found in the EWG Tap Water Database. Contaminants include 93 that have a link to an increased risk of cancer, 78 associated with brain and nervous system damage, 63 that can cause developmental harm to children and fetuses, 45 connected to hormonal disruption, and 38 that may cause fertility problems. Many of the samples showed levels that are legal under the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet well above the levels scientific studies have deemed as safe with no risk to health.
To prevent exposure to toxins by consuming one of the basic human needs, it is recommended to filter water either from the spout itself or using a pitcher. Additionally switching to a product like Earth Water in bottle, packet, or cap form will ensure a trusted clean drink that also has the benefit of antioxidants that combat free radicals and flush out toxins.
By taking small steps to monitor and reduce your exposure to the above toxins, 2018 could be your happiest, and in turn healthiest, year yet. Reducing the presence of these toxins in your home can ensure that your family is able to live their best lives each and every day!