By Carol Wilson ~
How to decrease exposure to environmental toxins:
The best way to prevent toxin-related health issues is to limit your exposure. There are five possible ways toxins can enter the body, including:
- Ingestion through contaminated food or beverage
- Inhalation of airborne toxins and olfactory transmission (smell)
- Transmission from mother to fetus or infant
- Dermally through the skin
- Penetration of tissues (e.g., surgery or injection)
Below, I’ve outlined six simple changes you can make to help decrease your exposure to environmental toxins.
Invest in a reusable glass or metal bottle
Making the switch from plastic cups and water bottles to reusable glass or stainless steel alternatives can reduce your intake of certain harmful chemicals found in plastics, such as BPA and phthalates. Choosing a reusable option will also decrease waste, so it’s good for your health and the environment.
Choose better personal care and cleaning products
Many of the personal care products we use every day, including shampoos, soaps, lotions, and cosmetics, contain harmful chemicals such as parabens and phthalates. Look for products that are labeled “organic” and “free of” these harmful chemicals.
When it comes to household cleaners, try making your own. It’s easy, inexpensive, and, in most cases, you can make them with everyday ingredients you already have at home. Ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and citric acid can help get rid of unwanted microorganisms, without compromising your health. Certain antimicrobial essential oils such as tea tree oil can also be added to your products.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Guide and Guide to Healthy Cleaning can help you search for safer personal care and cleaning products.
Limit exposure to cigarette smoke
The carcinogenic effects of smoking and second-hand smoke are well known. Out of over 7000 chemical compounds found in cigarettes, at least 69 have been identified as carcinogens. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke have also been associated with respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, and developmental dysfunction.
Buy organic when possible
Buying organic produce and other foods when possible can help decrease your exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Consulting the 2020 Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists can help you make healthier choices when choosing your produce. This list, released annually by the EWG, identifies the top twelve fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue and the top fifteen with the least residue.
Avoid using pesticides in the garden
Having beautiful lawns and gardens may be lovely, but it is worth the expense of your health? Avoid the adverse effects of herbicides and pesticides by choosing natural alternatives that will keep the pests away. Many brands and retailers offer non-toxic fertilizers and mulches that are free of harmful herbicides and pesticides.
Install a water filter
Using a water filter can help remove toxins found in your water, such as fluoride, heavy metals (e.g., mercury, copper, cadmium), pesticides and herbicides, pharmaceutical residues, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The following table, based on information from EWG, compares different filtering technologies and how they impact water quality.