Hi Ecophiles, I’ve been making changes at home to clear up as we are expecting a new baby. How do we create an environment that is as toxin-free and healthy as possible?
– Nikki Maynard, California
Wellness pioneer and founder of premium natural home cleaning line The Good Home Company, Christine Dimmick is our expert this week. She has written a book titled Detox Your Home, which reveals how a toxic home environment can wreak havoc on our health, skin and happiness. Her reply:
We have focused so much on detoxing our food and our habits and even our relationships, yet relatively little focus has been given to home detox and living space. While we may do apartment cleansings with sage, what can we do to remove the actual toxins that are literally affecting our health?
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer over 4 years ago, I immediately took inventory of its cause. Like many other health conscious urbanites, I went to spin class, I drank green juice and I was even gluten free. Why did this happen to me? What my research found was that we are all exposed to toxins every single day. In fact we are slowly being poisoned by them all in our lifetime. If it were instantaneous – it would be banned. But like smoking, this is a gradual poisoning of our systems and we do not realize it until we have several auto immune diseases, eczema, hair thinning, thyroid disease, are unable to lose weight and yes, even cancer.
One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime and while we may be living longer, we are not living better. The current US administration is doing a great job at making our exposure worse, not better, and other countries such as India and China are joining in our years of polluting the world.
What can you do to protect you and your family? Surprisingly there is a lot. Here are easy ways to launch into a home detox plan:
Air pollution is a big problem – just look at China. Well thanks to wind currents their problem is our problem. You may think that your indoor air is safe and protected – but you would be wrong. Air pollution is actually worse inside because we have no wind or air flow. Things like air fresheners, dust, cleaning products, candles, even electronics contribute.
Good news is that there is a product for this. First you need to monitor the quality. New indoor devices like Getawir and Purple Air can give you all the info you need on what is contaminating your abode with alerts on your phone. Purple Air actually lets you see the air quality from their devices all around the world. Once you have determined the air quality, you will need to clean it up. Molekule and Dyson both have high quality air purifiers that will make a difference that you can breathe.
Cleaning your Home
Once you have detoxed the air – you will also want to keep it as clean as possible. Believe it or not, but those scented products for your home can also be the reason your air is toxic. The air monitoring devices will be able to tell you.
Once you establish a baseline, you will be able to tell if the new candle you bring home is a problem. But it isn’t always that obvious. Most big brand detergents, cleaners and plug ins contribute to bad air by releasing a high content of VOCs that can trigger asthma, COPD and other ailments. Best to use natural and simple.
To clean your home buy baking soda, vinegar and regular castile soap. Dr Bronner’s is great and Good Home Co. makes a good vinegar cleaner. Absolutely stay away from bleach and any paraffin candles. Avoid bleach completely.
You can’t smell it but your furniture is a huge contributor to toxins in your home. Mattresses are filled with chemicals you can’t smell and are slowly giving you a toxic nightmare every night.
When purchasing a mattress it is imperative to make sure it is free of all flame retardant sprays. These are silent killers and have been shown to cause everything from infertility to thyroid issues. A latex mattress is okay it does not require flame retardants as it naturally smolders like wool – but a cheap foam mattress is usually doused with flame retardants and should be avoided unless they have documentation it is certified free of flame retardants.
Covering an old mattress or using a waterproof mattress cover will not hold the toxins in and may cause more harm. Waterproofing products like plastic mattress covers also contain harmful chemicals (PFAs) that are found in every single person’s blood stream. They are also in our water system. One of the best mattresses I have found is Avocado mattress. When we chose our new mattresses I went through a detailed vetting process, along with considering cost. They won hands down. They are all hand made to order and if time or money is a consideration, Ikea has pledged to go Flame retardant free and their mattresses are an excellent option. Just double check as not all are certified free of flame retardants yet.
Water is life and very soon it will be more valuable than gold. It is important to make sure the quality of your water is healthy. Unfortunately this is most likely not the case. Over 93% of our water is contaminated with microplastics. This includes bottled.
There is no technology yet in our water treatment plants catching this. But fortunately there are some devices you can buy to remove them at home. Lifestraw claims to remove 99.99% of microplastics and chemicals and some bacteria for when you go camping, etc. Their community dispenser is something to consider if your community is susceptible to floods.
I personally use Aquasana which was the only filtration system I found certified to remove PFAs. PFAs are highly fluorinated chemicals created by DuPont in the 1940s. They are not biodegradable and are prevalent in all water sources world-wide. They are still used in China and were not banned in the US until 2015.
Those near manufacturing plants where DuPont dumped waste water have suffered from cancer and birth deformities. For those who get slow doses, they cause thyroid issues, auto immune disorders and are endocrine disruptors. The aquasana system removes PFAs, although not all microplastics. A reverse osmosis system may also do the trick, but make sure they have certification from NSF on their findings.
Buy from biodynamic or regenerative farms
Our food supply is by far one of the most toxic things we are exposed to in our homes. The irony is a healthy food system is a major solution to climate change and our own health. While organic is absolutely helpful and ensures you are not eating GMOs, farms with biodynamic practices or regenerative farming practices not only give you nutritious food, but they are also giving nutrients back to the earth.
The best thing you can do is buy food from farmers who practice this. There are many biodynamic products in stores like Whole Foods and it is a big practice in Europe. However, if you can grow your own – even better. Hellogrow makes a great self watering planter that works pretty much anywhere, allowing even a city dweller to grow on their fire escape. I wish the container wasn’t plastic, but at least it is recycled.
Make sure to compost any of your home scraps – as compost is key to regenerative soil. To find a farmer that practices regenerative farming go to www.kisstheground.com.
While all of the above suggestions are home related, please remember that as goes our planets health, so goes ours. While it is not in your home – your reduction of flying on planes, not wasting food and buying used/vintage clothing will make a huge impact on climate change. What pollutes our homes is also what is polluting our planet. Thank you for #beingthechange.
– Christine Dimmick, author of Detox Your Home.
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