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#275631 - 02/13/09 05:38 PM Toxins in the home
RC21 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambr...
Now don’t panic, but many different types of toxins are found throughout the average home. These toxins can be extremely harmful to our health. While it is incredibly difficult to remove all the toxins from our households immediately, it is something you should be aware of and begin to take steps towards reducing. Many of these toxins are carcinogenic (meaning cancer causing), and fatal or life threatening to humans in certain doses. They can cause severe health issues. Many are not naturally eliminated from the body and can be stored over time with each exposure, eventually reaching potentially dangerous limits. Many of these toxins are accumulated in our bodies and can be passed on to our children. Some of these toxins can accumulate in our fatty tissues and only become more highly concentrated as they move up the food chain. This is something we should be concerned about. We can take steps to reduce the toxicity of our home ourselves, which I will detail shortly.

The building industry needs to be aware of this issue and make some changes to ensure housing is less toxic and that toxic materials are not used in its making. Hence the importance of Green building. They are slowly becoming more aware. Some companies have switched to using more environmentally friendly and non-toxic products. The government has taken steps to prevent some of chemicals (such as asbestos) from now getting into our buildings, but have not taken enough steps to fully protect us.

Some carpets, electronics, furniture padding and mattresses, and other materials contain brominated flame retardants (BFR’s). These chemicals can disrupt hormone and reproductive systems.

Pesticides are often introduced into the home to get rid of insects, weeds and moulds. Different types of soaps, household cleaning products, paints, wallpapers and other materials can be sprayed or coated in pesticides prior to sale. Pesticides can cause disruption of hormones, reproductive systems and are also very carcinogenic. Some also contain heavy metals, which can be absorbed, inhaled or ingested into the body. Pesticides are poison, meant to kill living things.

A range of products contain perfluorinated chemicals such as perfluorooctanyl sulfate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These are often found in floor polishes, denture cleaners, shampoos, herbicides, insecticides, adhesives, and for surface treatment of clothing, carpets and cookware. Perfluorinated chemicals are carcinogenic and can also disrupt horomone and reproductive systems.

Many cleaners, paints, textiles and leather treatments, pulp and paper processing and agricultural chemicals contain alkylphenols which can also disrupt hormone and reproductive systems.

Many of our electronics products are full of toxins that are highly dangerous to humans, especially during the manufacturing processes. People should take caution when repairing, breaking or disposing of these products so that they do inhale, ingest or expose themselves to toxins or leach the toxins into the ground water systems. Certain light bulbs can contain mercury, so can several newer electronics devices. Cadmium can be found in SMD chip resistors, infrared detectors, semiconductors, older types of cathode ray tubes, and some plastics. It concentrates over time in the body and can cause severe health problems. Electronics can also contain BFRs, barium, beryllium, hexavalent chromium, dioxins and furans; all highly toxic to humans and animals.

Also toxic in the home: most paints, furniture polish, spot remover, varnish, glues, drain cleaners, oven cleaners, floor cleaners, disinfectants, ammonia, scouring powder, bleach, laundry detergents, flea sprays, fertilizers, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, batteries, and motor oil.

There are easy (and usually cheaper) alternatives that are easy enough to make. Baking soda, washing soda, vinegar, lemon juice, cornstarch, table salt and borax when mixed in the right proportions can work fabulously in place of many cleaners, polishes etc. You can check out http://www.greenaction.org/toxics/home/index.shtml for more details or ask me for recipes or suggestions.

When painting your home, you can look for paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are now offered in many brands, colours and choices. They do not release toxins into the air.

Avoid using no-pest strips as they can contain pesticides which are released into the air. Get good screens, and fix cracks and doorways. Cedar blocks or bags of cedar chips hung with clothes work to prevent mothballs. Placing dried bay leafs around the corners, cracks, windows or doors will help to prevent spiders from coming in and taking up residence in your home. There are lots of natural alternatives to pesticides.

When buying new furniture or remodeling, consider using a company that is more environmentally friendly or that uses non-toxic materials. There are many sustainable and healthy choices now available. If you don’t know, ask. If they can’t tell you—look elsewhere. You don’t have to make giant leaps, take baby steps.

If you want more suggestions, please ask me!

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#283473 - 03/27/09 03:25 AM Re: Toxins in the home [Re: RC21]
Darlene Bitner Offline
Darlene B
Veteran Member

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 1208
Loc: Texas Gulf Coast
I am trying to find some info on a lawsuit I read about a few years back. Homeowner sued builder because fireplace left soot on the walls. Turns out, the homeowner had been burning candles since she moved into the home. The substance on the walls turned out to be candle soot. I imagine the homeowner denied it but the builder was happy because the suit was tossed out. I often wonder what happens to people after years of burning candles in their home and breathing the air.

One thing I do know for a fact is that spraying baseboards with flea spray is not good enough to keep the fleas out of the home but may eventually make the resident (and the unsuspecting pet) ill. And it stays in the home because it is absorbed into the sheetrock, carpet and carpet pad. People think these chemicals (including the ones in perfume and other fragranced products) mysteriously disappear because they no longer smell them. But the residue left behind lingers in the structure to aggravate other occupants. That is why it is always a good idea to paint the walls and baseboards with low VOC paint when moving into an existing home. Another good idea is to replace the carpet and all it's mysteries, if possible. This is a good time to consider sustainable materials but remodeling is not always an option immediately after moving into a home. If chemical "pollution" is suspected, hopefully the buyer will choose another home. Many buyers do not even think about asking the seller about their chemical usage in the home. We may not be that far along in our eco thinking yet.

RC21's post may seem radical to some but as a person who has suffered for over 15 years with extreme MCS, I do hope buyers are aware of these problems in existing and new homes and use good judgement in what products they use. Some may watch the HGTV show "If Walls Could Talk"...believe me, many walls would probably tell us to stop cleaning them, spraying them, and poisoning them.

I recently bought a 1991 travel trailer. It was in like-new condition and I loved the the three skylights that I can open to let the heat out, as well as the seven huge windows that open. It had been setting a while and when I first went in, all I could smell was that "closed up" smell that a good airing out quickly fixed. Now when I come home, I smell nothing. In my opinion, that is what every homeowner needs to come home and smell--nothing. All the fragranced plug-ins, air fresheners, pots of warm oil emitting different scents, artificial potpourri...these products are absorbed into the sheetrock and over time send a very mixed message to the occupant and guests. And that message may not say "clean".

Naturally, many have a completely different opinion about these products. RC21's suggestions to a healthy home, however, may result in a home being sold quicker if the potential buyer happens to be sympathetic to a greener way of life.

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#284127 - 03/30/09 07:46 PM Re: Toxins in the home [Re: Darlene Bitner]
RC21 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambr...
Thanks Darlene for your support.
I know my ideas may sound radical to some, but if you find yourself becoming severely ill because of the products you use everyday in your home, it becomes an extreme reality pretty quickly. I know that I used to think it was all hype, like many probably do.

The US Environmental Protection Agency reviews about 17,000 new industrial compounds each year, with about a 90% approval rate. The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act requires that any chemicals that display evidence of potential harm to humans must be tested before approval, however, only a quarter of the 82,000 chemicals in use in the US have EVER been tested, even though many showed potential to harm living things. A similar occurence is happening here in Canada, though perhaps in slightly lower numbers. Currently, the acceptible toxin levels for some chemicals are being harmful to humans and animals.

Testing the levels of toxicity in humans leads to incredible results. The average person has at least 100 non-naturally ocurring toxins in their body and perhaps even more than this, some in incredibly damaging levels. Unfortunately, the testing is super expensive (like $15,000 to test for only about 300 toxins– and there are literally THOUSANDS upon thousands that we are potentially exposed to). It's a scary reality.

The reason I bring this topic up is because I think that the building industry needs to start building less toxic homes and that we need to be aware of the damage we could be doing to ourselves and our children.

There are tons of alternatives available that are non-toxic to humans. Why don't we start using these? It makes no sense to me.

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#297468 - 07/07/09 03:28 PM Re: Toxins in the home [Re: RC21]
Alex11 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/10/09
Posts: 32
Loc: California, Mission Viejo
RC21 this post is really an eye opener. Very few of us consider how toxic our home environment really is. Offices have a even higher level of toxicity.
We need a much more awareness on this matter. Our water ( inducing most bottled water) is unfit for human consumption. And the food......
Do you know of any sites that offer healthy home products, furniture etc..?

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#297471 - 07/07/09 03:43 PM Re: Toxins in the home [Re: Alex11]
Darlene Bitner Offline
Darlene B
Veteran Member

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 1208
Loc: Texas Gulf Coast
One of the most harmful is the fragrance industry. Small changes in the local laws are starting to appear. I could lecture on this forever, but the answer has to be in air purification systems. Heading out now for some all natural wasp killer to use inside my home but will post on this later. Restaurants and casinos have figured it out, but not homebuilders or buyers. Even homes with asthmatic children have fragranced plug-ins. People won't change quickly, but technology can do it for them. Excuse any typos.

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#297477 - 07/07/09 04:21 PM Re: Toxins in the home [Re: Darlene Bitner]
Alex11 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/10/09
Posts: 32
Loc: California, Mission Viejo
[quote=Darlene B]One of the most harmful is the fragrance industry. Small changes in the local laws are starting to appear. I could lecture on this forever, but the answer has to be in air purification systems. Heading out now for some all natural wasp killer to use inside my home but will post on this later. Restaurants and casinos have figured it out, but not homebuilders or buyers. Even homes with asthmatic children have fragranced plug-ins. People won't change quickly, but technology can do it for them. Excuse any typos. [/quote]

You are right air purifiers are a necessity in every home. Most of all so called air fresheners are pure poison. I use a Air purifier Ionizer at home and i find a great difference in the air quality when it is on.
I Japan and some other countries ionizers are used in all hospitals an in many public areas. Here in the US we are lagging in this area.

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#303604 - 08/22/09 06:07 PM Re: Toxins in the home [Re: Alex11]
Traveler Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 11/14/00
Posts: 2500
Loc: The Coast
Many people are allergic to fragrance. I for one. Any kind of chemical fragrance, whether its air freshners, laundry soaps, etc, is like kriptonite to me.

I get all my soaps and cleaners at a health food store. Most are either unscented, or use plant based or essential oils for a mild scent.

In California they have proposition 65 which lists toxic chemicals used in industry. You can find a lot of common perfumes on that list.

Alex is right. Pure poison.

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#345277 - 07/25/10 04:32 AM Re: Toxins in the home [Re: Traveler]
Darlene Bitner Offline
Darlene B
Veteran Member

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 1208
Loc: Texas Gulf Coast
Just reviewed this topic and realized that I never did get back to post about my all-natural wasp killer. Well, it seems that the key ingredient is cloves...a smell that, when used in this concentration, has to go on a separate list..."Home products that are natural but stinky beyond words". Seriously, I could not stay in the house for the entire day...and it did not kill the wasps because I could not get a direct hit...what with me running from the wasps and gasping for air and trying to grab my car keys and all. Finally, I used Raid fragrance-free Ant & Roach killer to kill the wasps. Now, as I see it, the bug spray is still dangerous for the home but it does not have any odor at all, even when first sprayed. That means the unsuspecting homeowner may overspray because they do not have the product's scent to gauge how much they are using. Still, the wasps are dead and I did not get stung. It had to be done, so at least Raid has a fragrance-free product, even if it is a bug spray. What would I have done without it...no flaming torches allowed inside the trailer so I was out of options. Since fragrance causes me the most problems, it was an easy choice. Wow, was I surprised how that turned out...and disappointed that the Raid was a better and safer choice in this instance than the all-natural.

Point to this post - maybe we should test our all-natural spray outside first if it has cloves.


Edited by Darlene B (07/25/10 04:44 AM)

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#345278 - 07/25/10 05:20 AM TOXINS IN THE HOME & HOME BUILDING PROCESS
Darlene Bitner Offline
Darlene B
Veteran Member

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 1208
Loc: Texas Gulf Coast
Of special interest to some of us on Agents Online for personal reasons is toxins in the home. People with chemical sensitivity (MCS) and other EI diseases, asthma, COPD, allergies...all may react to toxins in the home. Many are brought into the home by the homeowner (cleaners, pesticides, grooming products with offending ingredients, etc.) but many are part of the home building process or home remodeling process. Let's put these type posts in this thread.

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