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  • Writer's picturePanacea Lim

Toxic-Free Household (Top 8)

Updated: Oct 5, 2021



I remembered all too well not too long ago, Whenever I hear people telling me these, I would just brush off. As I was too focus on on work.

  • Use products that is only fragrance-free

  • Don't pop unncecessary medicines

  • Read the ingredients list

  • Avoid using perfumes


And today I tell people the same!


Why the change in attitude you ask?


Well, in mid 2007, I got me into a major car accident cracking my spine and skipping past death by 2mm. Started off with pain medication, followed by hives and zoning out. I was prescribed 60+ tablets a day? Cause steroids, my weight ballooned from 45kg to almost 80kg in less than 2 weeks. No, there was no typo mistake and you read it right. Soon I started having all kinds of digestive problems and more medications were added. And eventually, I started feeling very weak and could barely move from bed.


Fast forward 9 years, I was further diagnosed with 50% brain damage thus causing epilepsy and leading to the zoning out. Also was further diagnosed with depression and Post Trauma Syndrome Disorder (PTSD).


At this point, a whole new bout of medications started again. And my liver and kidney was screaming for help desperately! It was at this point, it was again brought to my attention to go natural as my body could not sustain anymore. Now what is NATURAL, HOLISTIC? All these words have no meaning to me. Took me 3 full months of day and night banging away on my computer searching and understanding. What I learn was horrific, and to think I trusted the doctors and big brands. I start by spring cleaning my household products (easiest cause it is the smallest and cheapest .. less painful to throw 😂)

Do you know there is no federal regulation of chemicals in household products. Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Working Group on Climate (EWG), discusses.

The typical home, say environmental scientists produce about 62 harmful chemicals. We are constantly exposed to them — from the phthalates in organic fragrances to the noxious gases in cleaners on the oven. Products in popular household goods were linked with asthma, obesity, hormonal problems, disturbance of the hormones, and neurotoxicity.

Manufacturers claim that such harmful products are not likely to be a concern in limited doses, but since we are regularly subjected to them and in formulations that have not been tested, it becomes difficult to calculate the hazards correctly. Although a few items induce rapid symptoms from acute touch (fumes headaches, unintended contact skin burns), numerous problems occur from prolonged contact. Chronic exposure contributes to the "toxic load" of the body — the number of contaminants that are contained in the tissues at any given moment.

The harmful body pressure is a significant issue of the EWG for household chemicals. 

Sutton explains: "Our problem is prolonged exposure over a lifespan, every day, regularly. 


Maybe if you're subjected to a chemical a few times it won't cause damage, but certain chemicals build up sufficiently or inflict sufficiently damage in the body over time to induce any form of a consequence of the disease. The [body burden] idea is that contamination is not only in our environment and in our water — it is even in us.



I have summerise it to a few core categories:

  1. Environment

  2. Food

  3. Household Products

  4. Personal Care Products (including skincare & makeup)

  5. Mental and Emotions

Below I have compiled some information on toxic-chemicals used in our daily household products which I hope you would find it useful:


PHTHALATES

Found In

Many fragrant home products, like air fresheners, dish soap, even paper towels. 

Companies don't have to disclose what's in their scents because of proprietary laws, so you won't find phthalates on a label. If you see a sticker with the term "fragrance," there's a fair possibility that phthalates are present.


Risks to Health

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors. According to a 2003 report performed by researchers at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Harvard School of Public Health, people with higher phthalate compounds in their blood have correspondingly decreased sperm counts. While sensitivity to phthalates occurs mostly through inhalation, it may also occur through skin contact with scented soaps, which is a serious concern, warns Alicia Stanton, MD, Hormone Harmony's co-author. 

The skin has no safeguards against toxins, as opposed to the digestive system. Absorbed chemical substances go straight into organs.

Healthier Choice

Look for sustainable items that are fragrance-free or all-natural where necessary. Try bypassing air fresheners with aerosols or plug-ins and either use essential oils by just opening windows to freshen the climate. Other than causing more serious effects such as endocrine disruption. Migraine and asthma triggers can be aerosol sprays and air fresheners. Often suggest introducing to your home more plants: they are good detoxifiers for soil.

PERCHLOROETHYLENE or PERC

Found In

Dry-cleaning products, stain removers, and cleaners for carpets and upholstery.

Risks to Health

Perc is a neurotoxin according to the New York Attorney General's office’s leading environmental safety expert. And perc also is listed by the EPA as a "possible carcinogen." People live in residential buildings where there are dry cleaners reported dizziness, lack of balance, and other symptoms. While the EPA has mandated a phase-out of perc devices in residential buildings by 2020, California is moving much deeper and preparing to ban all perc usage by 2023 owing to its potential safety hazards. The most frequent route of exposure is inhalation: the telltale scent of fabric after coming from the dry cleaner, or the gases the persist after washing the carpets.

Healthier Choice Instead of utilising water-based technologies rather than toxic solvents, doors, drapes and clothes that are labeled "dry clean only" may be brought to a "wet cleaner" Liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) has recently been accepted by the EPA as an economically friendly solution to more harmful dry-cleaning solvents. Advise your dry cleaner what method they are using. Brush undiluted castile soap straight on stains before cleaning.

TRICLOSAN

Found In

Many liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps branded as "antibacterial".

Risks to Health

Triclosan is an aggressive antimicrobial agent capable of promoting drug-resistant bacterial growth. Explains Sutton: "The American Medical Association has found little evidence that such antimicrobials make us better or stronger, so they're particularly worried that we would not like to overuse antimicrobial substances — that's how microorganisms build sensitivity, not only for those [household antibacterials] but also for the real antibiotics we're using." Other tests have also detected dangerous triclosan amounts in rivers and lakes, where algae become poisonous. The EPA is now investigating whether triclosan can even interact with the endocrine (hormonal) activity. It is possibly carcinogenic. The department was evaluating triclosan's protection in consumer goods at press time.

Healthier Choice

Use clear detergents and soaps with shortlists of additives, and stop household use antibacterial triclosan items. Choose one that is alcohol-based and without triclosan, whether you are stuck on hand sanitizer.

QUARTERNARY AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS, or QUATS

Found In

Liquids and sheets manufactured from fabric softeners, most household cleaners labeled "antibacterial."

Risks to Health

QUATS are also another form of antimicrobial and thus present the same problem as triclosan by helping increase bacteria immune to antibiotics. They’re also a skin irritant; a 10-year touch dermatitis the report showed that QUATS are one of the leading triggers. They’re even known as a culprit for respiratory problems, according to Sutton: "There's proof that even stable individuals who are [exposed to QUATS] routinely experience asthma as a result."

Healthier Choice

To smooth clothes or get rid of static you don't even need fabric softener or dryer sheets. Basic vinegar works just as well. Vinegar is the perfect clothing softener of choice for several purposes.


There are ample alternatives to chemical disinfectants, including antibacterial and antifungal tea-tree oil. Mix a few drops of tea-tree oil and a spoonful of vinegar with water in a spray bottle for a healthy, all-purpose cleaner to destroy germs. Add a few drops of essential lavender oil to the scent.

2-BUTOXYETHANOL

Found In

Cleaners for door, kitchen, windows and multipurpose cleaners


Risks to Health

In certain window cleaners, 2-butoxyethanol is the main component which gives them their signature light odour. It belongs to the "glycol ethers" group, a collection of strong solvents that don't mess around. Law does not allow the printing of 2-butoxyethanol on the mark of a drug. In addition to inducing sore throats when inhaled, elevated rates of glycol ethers may also lead to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and serious harm to the liver and kidneys, according to the EPA 's website. While the EPA provides a guideline for occupational health on 2-butoxyethanol, Sutton says, "If you're cleaning at home in a restricted space, such as an unventilated toilet, you might potentially wind up with 2-butoxyethanol in the air at rates that are higher than the protection guidelines at work."

Healthier Choice

Clean newspaper mirrors and windows, and diluted vinegar. Using baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils, you can make your own recipes too.

AMMONIA

Found In

Bathroom appliances, sinks, jewelry, and polishing agents; often in glass cleaner.


Risks to Health

It is another popular component in commercial window cleaners, since ammonia evaporates and does not leave streaks. That sparkle comes at a price. "Ammonia is a potent irritant," says Donna Kasuska, chemistry engineer and Chem Conscious, Inc. founder, a risk-management consultancy company. "This should have an acute impact on you. The ones who would be most impacted are many with asthma, and the aged with respiratory conditions and breathing difficulties. It is almost still inhaled. People who get lots of exposure to ammonia, like housekeepers, often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma. "If mixed with bleach, ammonia can also create a poisonous gas.


Healthier Choice

Vodka. "This can create a reflective shine on every metal or mirrored surface," says the Green Interior Design author Lori Dennis. Yet toothpaste renders silver paint excellent.

CHLORINE

Found In

Scouring powders, cleaners for toilet bowls, removers for mildew, whiteners for washing, bath water for domestic usage.

Risks to Health

"We have too many sources of contact of chlorine," says Kasuska. "When you clean with it, you get exposed through fumes and possibly through the skin, but because it's also in city water to get rid of bacteria when you take a shower or bath, you get exposed too. Chlorine can cause severe safety hazards, and it can be chronic; it's an acute respiratory irritant. But what people don't realize is the chronic effects: It can be a serious thyroid disrupter.


Healthier Choice

Keep scrubbing to baking powder. Vinegar should be used to clean bowls in the bathroom, and also vinegar or borax powder perform well to whiten clothes. Mount filters on your kitchen sink and in the bathroom to reduce your sensitivity to chlorine through the bathwater.



SODIUM HYDROXIDE

Found In

Oven cleaners and drain openers.


Risks to Health

Anything else known as lye, sodium hydroxide is highly corrosive: this can cause burns if it reaches your skin as well as gets into your eyes. Exposure routes require interaction with the skin and inhalation. Sodium hydroxide inhalation can cause a sore throat that will last for days.

Healthier Choice

With baking-soda paste, you can clean the grimiest oven — it only takes a little more time and elbow grease. Unclog drains with a mechanical "snake" tool. Add a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar to the drain and hold for 30 minutes. Transfer hot water down the drain until the bubbles die off to clean the waste.

BEWARE OF GREENWASHING

If a cleaning product proclaims itself "green," "natural" or "biodegradable" in your supermarket, that doesn't necessarily mean it is non-toxic. In 2010 Terra Choice Company, an environmental consulting firm released a paper entitled "The Crimes of Greenwashing." In it, the community noticed that more than 95 percent of the so-called green branded goods have performed at least one "greenwashing offense," such as having an environmental argument that could be true but unimportant. For e.g., "CFC-free" is a common one, as CFCs are forbidden by law. Chem Conscious's Donna Kasuska gives this advice: "If evaluating ecological arguments, search for details. 'Biodegradable in three to five days' has greater meaning than 'biodegradable' as certain contaminants can gradually break down with ample time."

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