I just finished reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck written by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie. You can read all the reviews but basically they go over some chemicals that are in our everyday household items.
The book goes into detail about how we should address this politically and is good for new parents wanting to limit the exposure of these chemicals to their children. Long story short, we ALL have these chemicals in our body.
Its hard for me to tell if some of this is overreaction or not. Then again, since I know too many people who have had chemo before the age of 35 I figured it was worth being cautious. Here are some abbreviated action items from the book per chemical that I will be following henceforth!
Chemical #1: Phthalates (plasticizers and also help aromas linger)
- Avoid personal care products with perfume (side note: only products OK’d by the Skin Deep database should be used!)
- Avoid PVC shower curtains
Chemical #2: Perfluorochemicals (PFC’s) (non-stick)
- Throw away my non-stick pan
- Avoid stainmaster and scotchguard products
- Avoid Teflon
Chemical #3: Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants)
- Use naturally fibered products
- Avoid furniture upholstery with PBDE
- Dust & vacuum often since this stuff lives in the dust
- Avoid PBDE in electronics
Chemical #4: Mercury
This one confuses me since we have introduced Mercury with our CFLs. Also, I don’t eat fish so the eating part isn’t as much a concern for me.
- Understand what products actually have mercury and dispose of them correctly
Chemical #5: Triclosan (antibacterial)
There aren’t any known negative effects to this on humans that is widely accepted (that doesn’t mean I want it in my body) however introducing this chemical to the environment can have negative effects. Thankfully, the alc0hol-based sanitizer I use doesn’t have it as an ingredient (although it does appear to have phthalates)!
- Its a very popular chemical so check to make sure its not in a product that doesn’t need it (like a garden hose as pointed out in the book!)
Chemical #6: Pesticides
I don’t have a lawn so that makes things easy. All that’s left is my food.
- Eat organic (the book recommends this guide to prioritize what you purchase organic)
- Wash produce well
Chemical #7: Bisphenol A (BPA)
This stuff is in EVERYTHING! The authors say “When buying items in plastic containers, remember this mantra: 4, 5, 1 and 2; all the rest are bad for you.” This is in reference to the recycling symbols found on plastic containers.
- Avoid plastics 3, 6, and 7
- Make sure the reusable water bottles you use don’t have BPA lining (I have Sigg bottles dated before 2008 so they do in fact have BPA)
- Avoid canned foods
- Don’t microwave plastic containers
Long story short – just because the chemical is being sold doesn’t mean it is safe. It is important for those of us who have the ability to make choices that we use our power as consumers to choose our products wisely.
There are other books such as The Healthy Home that discuss similar topics. Some of these chemicals and more are also detailed here in the Household Products Database from the US Dept of Health and Human Services.