3 Toxic Household Products That Really Scare Me

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-luxury-house-image22040253There are so many toxic products in our homes today. Products that we don’t even think twice about buying and keeping in our homes for long periods of time are toxic. Even products we purchase for our little newborn infants are highly toxic – how crazy does that sound? It’s scary but it’s the truth. This is one of the many facts that make being a parent stressful in today’s environment.

Outside of the home it’s nearly impossible to protect our families from toxins, they are everywhere we go. This is why it’s so important to try to control the toxins within our homes. Our homes are where our children spend the most amount of their time and it’s an enclosed space where toxins can be either trapped in or kept out (as best we can) which is why it’s the best place to start detoxing your life.

When families first start to make changes towards a more toxin-free lifestyle it can be very overwhelming. There is a very long list of things that should be replaced by non-toxic alternatives but doing it all at once is nearly impossible. In fact, when my clients try to do a complete overhaul all at once it usually backfires. They get too overwhelmed and give up. It’s best to choose 1-3 things to change at a time. Once you’ve mastered those changes, move on to change a few more things and eventually you’ll have a much less toxic home.

Each home and each family is different so the first thing that needs to change is not the same for everyone but there are three things that I believe are among the top 10 toxic products you should eliminate now.

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This Medicine Might be Why Your Child Can’t Kick That Cold

kick that cold

When your child gets sick there are a number of responses from the body that show up as cold symptoms. These responses are natural ways that the body is trying to fight infection, remove toxins and promote healing. A fever is the body’s way of killing off germs, mucus is there as a vehicle to bring germs out of the body, so should these things really be suppressed? The most common way of dealing with a cold is by taking cold medicine, cough suppressant, Tylenol, or decongestants. These are used in an effort to make the cold more bearable but in reality it might be making the cold last longer.

Decongestants seem like a good idea, especially when your child is so congested they can’t even sleep. They do clear up a lot of mucus and get your child breathing but its only a temporary relief that makes the cold last longer then it would otherwise.

So why are decongestants a bad idea?

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Be Ready with Natural Remedies When You Need Them

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I get a lot of questions sent to me on a daily basis. Some have to do with nutrition, specific health issues, natural skin care, and some about natural remedies. Natural remedies are a part of my daily life, we use some as preventatives and some as issues occur. The thing is, there are A LOT of natural remedies. If you are totally new to using them, it can be extremely overwhelming.

If you are just starting out and want to use natural remedies, some questions you might be asking yourself are…

  • What remedy is appropriate for this particular aliment?
  • Is it OK to combine remedies?
  • How to administer certain remedies?
  • How often and how much to take?
  • What are the top remedies I should have on hand?
  • How can I safely use natural remedies with my young children?
  • How do I prepare the natural remedies?

ALL of these concerns will be addressed and put to rest in A Parent’s Guide to Natural Remedies.

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The Truth About Tylenol

The Truth About Tylenol

The truth about Tylenol is that it’s not as safe as you think. If your child comes down with a fever the go-to over the counter solution that pediatricians recommend is Tylenol. We are told by many trusted sources that Tylenol is safe to take for adults and children alike, but is it really? I have some big concerns about Tylenol, especially for children. Even the FDA has issued warnings about using the proper dosages because overdosing can happen easily and the consequences can be fatal.

Here are some of the main reasons why this medicine is not safe:

Overdosing is Extremely Dangerous

Acetaminophen, know as brand name Tylenol, has been sold in different concentrations making proper dosage amounts unclear. There are a number of different warnings on the FDA website regarding this issue, one warning is as follows:

“An April 2011 report from FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) found that confusion caused by the different concentrations of liquid acetaminophen for infants and children was leading to overdoses that made infants seriously ill, with some dying from liver failure.”

This is really horrifying to read as a parent. A medicine that is sold and marketed as safe for infants and children has such a negative impact on the body that even a small overdose can be fatal.

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4 Reasons Why Your Mattress Could be Toxic

http://theholisticmama.com/?p=6628Our world is full of toxins today – they are everywhere. Many parents are aware of this now and are trying to at least minimize the toxins inside their homes. Switching to green cleaning products, using zero VOC’s paints, and changing from plastic food storage containers to glass are some of the ways that many of us parents have started to eliminate toxins in our homes. However, one household item in particular that has probably been overlooked is your mattress.

There are a number of reasons why conventional mattresses are very toxic and could even be causing health problems. Here are the top 4 reasons:

#1 – Flame Retardants

As of July 1, 2007, all U.S. mattresses are required to be flame retardant. As a result, manufacturers are coating them with highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), Boric acid, a toxic respiratory irritant used to kill roaches, antimony, a metal that may be more toxic than mercury and formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. What is even worse is that this does NOT have to be disclosed in any way.

PBDEs are certainly not something we want emitting from a mattress on which we spend 1/3 of our lifetime. They have already been outlawed in Canada and Europe. This toxin builds up in your body over time, and what you absorb or inhale does not go away. This is very concerning because of the health problems PBDE is associated with  such as brain and reproductive damage, decreased sperm quality, thyroid problems and even cancer at high levels.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has studied chemically treated mattresses and found that the chemicals do, in fact, leech from the mattress. A person sleeping on a chemically treated mattress will absorb .8 mg of antimony every night, an amount that is 27 times more than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is safe. 

#2 – Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is often part of the flame retardants in mattresses and it is also used in the adhesives that hold together different pieces of the mattresses. This is a potentially toxic substance and has been linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose, and throat cancers.

#3 –  Pesticides

Non-organic cotton is grown with pesticides. In fact, cotton uses more insecticide than any other single crop. These pesticides are causing illness too. In a 2002 study of pesticide illnesses in California, cotton ranked third among California crops for total number of worker illnesses caused by pesticides. If these chemicals are causing worker illness we probably don’t want to be breathing in its emissions all night long.

#4 – Polyurethane

Since the 1960s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam. Polyurethane is a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. This is the material that most conventional memory foam mattresses are primarily made from and it is also part of the padding in coil mattresses.

How can we avoid these toxins?

This is overwhelming, I know. I get sick to my stomach every time I look at this information. These things apply to most mattresses that are sold today but there are some alternatives.

Natural Latex Mattress

Natural Latex is a safe alternative to the popular polyurethane memory foam mattresses. 100% Natural latex begins as a liquid, extracted by ‘tapping’ live rubber trees that grow in tropical climates around the world. This process is just like tapping a Maple tree for the natural sap; trees are not harmed and they provide a sustainable resource for natural latex. The liquid is then washed carefully and whipped into a latex foam material and formed into the layers of a natural latex mattress. The best quality natural latex mattresses are then wrapped in organic cotton and wool. The wool layer gives the fire retardant protection that is needed to meet the standards for fire protection because wool is naturally fire retardant.

I have done a lot of research for natural latex mattress options. Many of the options available are very expensive or don’t have all of the quality standards that I am looking for in a mattress. Plushbeds.com has a high-quality natural latex mattress called the Botanical Bliss Collection which is made of 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and Joma New Zealand wool. I personally own a set of their natural latex pillows which I absolutely love (read my review here).

Right now Plush Beds is having a huge Labor Day Sale so if you have been thinking about upgrading to a non-toxic natural latex mattress this would be a great time to take them up on this offer. The sale includes…

  • $1,200 off all latex mattresses
  • Free Egyptian Sheet set
  • 2 Free 100% natural talalay latex pillows
  • Free Shipping
  • Free Returns (100 night trial period)

Organic Cotton & Wool Coil Mattress

Some people really prefer the traditional coil mattresses over latex. A few safe and chemical free options do exist. If you are shopping for this type of mattress look for one that is made of organic cotton and/or wool. Some non-toxic coil mattresses are made of organic cotton and have a wool wrapping (for its natural fire retardant properties) and some of them are 100% wool.  When researching options for coil mattresses be sure to ask if there are any other chemicals in the mattress such as any possible adhesives that hold the parts together.

These type of mattresses are not easy to find and often (but not always) require a prescription from a Doctor or a Chiropractor. There are a number of online retailers that offer organic coil mattresses. I personally own an organic cotton and wool crib mattress for my children that I purchased online from EcoChoices.

Being aware of these toxins is not easy because once you know about this it’s impossible to go back. Most likely you’ll never want to buy a conventional mattress again. When this information first came across my computer screen I wanted to immediately throw out every mattress in my house and replace them – but I was not financially able to do so. The important thing is that you now know how to make an informed mattress purchase. Take this slow, try not to stress out about it (I know it’s hard not to), and just replace the mattresses in your home one by one.

Were you aware of the toxic chemicals in mattresses? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

What’s Wrong with Drinking Tap Water?

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Drinking enough water is a very important part of a healthy diet. Everyday the body releases 10-15 cups of water and that water needs to be replenished with clean pure drinking water. There is a growing problem of chronic dehydration today and many people do not recognize the symptoms. Some possible symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Headaches
  • Premature aging
  • High cholesterol
  • Weight gain

If you are plagued with any of these problems it would be a good idea to start being mindful of the amount of water you drink each day. In addition to the amount of water you drink, it is also important to consider the quality of the water you drink.

The topic of clean water has been in a lot of recent news locally where I live. Although I have been filtering my drinking water for many years, it is still a big concern to me. Our water is treated with disinfectants before it is sent through the faucet. There is no filtration plant where I live, the water comes from an unfiltered pond and is treated with chemicals to kill any possible hazards. The real problem is that combining any organic with inorganic matter forms chemicals called disinfection byproducts. The Environmental Protection Agency has standards for controlling the levels of these byproducts in the drinking water and our local tests have failed on multiple occasions. One of the failed tests even happened to be at an elementary school.

What’s wrong with Disinfection Byproducts?

The EPA has studied the effects of Disinfection Byproducts (DBP’s) on laboratory rats which has shown that several of the disinfection byproducts to be carcinogenic. Some disinfection byproducts have also been shown to cause adverse reproductive or developmental effects in laboratory animals

Other Dangers in Your Drinking Water

Merocla.com referenced a report in New Scientist, a comprehensive survey of U.S. drinking water reveals that drinking water is also likely laced with a wide variety of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that may effect hormones.

The 11 most frequently detected compounds were:

  • Atenolol, a beta-blocker used to treat cardiovascular disease
  • Atrazine, an organic herbicide banned in the European Union which has been implicated in the decline of fish stocks and in changes in animal behavior
  • Carbamazepine, a mood-stabilizing drug used to treat bipolar disorder
  • Estrone, an estrogen hormone secreted by the ovaries and blamed for causing gender changes in fish
  • Gemfibrozil, an anti-cholesterol drug
  • Meprobamate, a tranquilizer used in psychiatric treatment
  • Naproxen, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory linked to increases in asthma incidence
  • Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant used to treat epilepsy
  • Sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic
  • TCEP, a reducing agent used in molecular biology
  • Trimethoprim, another antibiotic

So What Can We Do?

Drinking straight tap water is just not a safe and healthy option anymore. There are really only two safe options.

Spring Water

Spring water is a healthy option because its not treated with disinfectants and it tends to have a neutral pH. This does not include “spring water” on the shelf at the grocery store. The best spring water comes right out of the ground from springs that you visit yourself. I just came across a really neat website called FindaSpring.com where you can find a natural spring near you. The added bonus is that most of these springs are actually free. When visiting a spring, bring along glass jugs to fill up to avoid leeching chemicals in plastics (read this post Why you should not buy BPA free plastics).

Filtered Drinking Water

The easiest and most economical way to get clean pure water is to use a filter for your drinking water. There are a few different types of water filters.

Reverse Osmosis Filter

Reverse Osmosis filters can remove chlorine, inorganic, and organic contaminants in your water and will also remove about 80 percent of the fluoride and most DPBs. One problem with this type of system is the expense of installing an RO filter as most need a plumber to get up and running. Reverse Osmosis filters also tend to remove beneficial minerals from the water as well.

Ion Exchange Filter

Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system actually softens the water or exchanges natural-forming mineral ions in the water with its own ions, thereby neutralizing their harmful effect of creating scale build-up.

Carbon Filters

These are the most common types of counter top and under counter water filters. Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals. However, one of the downfalls of granular carbon filters is that the loose material inside can channel–the water creates pathways through the carbon material, escaping filtering.

Ideally, you want a filtration system that offers a variety of methods to remove different contaminants. The water filter that has been recommended to me many times is the Berkey Filter. Several filtration methods are combined and blended to produce a unique filtering process.

How does the Berkey Filter Work?

The Berkey purification elements are composed of a formulation of more than six different media types, all constructed into pores that are so small it makes it impossible for pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, sediment and sedimentary minerals to pass through. These unwanted materials become trapped therefore eliminating them from your drinking water.

In addition, the filter uses adsorption which works to create an ionic barrier similar to surface tension. This blocking process is how the Berkey water filter is able to remove submicron viruses that other brands of water filters cannot without the use of obnoxious chemicals like iodine or chlorine.

Lastly, the heavy metals ions (mineral molecules) are extracted from the water through an Ion exchange process where they are attracted to and transformed by electrically bonding to the media.

Another feature of this filter is that it takes several minutes for the water to pass through it so the water is in contact with the filter for a longer period of time.This longer contact time between the water molecules and the filter media, provides much greater removal rates of harmful water contaminates.

I have personally been researching water filtration products for a long time and have even tried a few myself. After learning about the Berkey system for drinking water I haven’t seen any products that have better claims. Berkey is going to be my next purchase in water filtration and I cannot wait to try it for myself.

United Environmental Solutions

United Environmental Solutions has been in business for a little over 2 years. Dan Kelleher, owner, has over 13 years of experience in the water filtration industry. Berkey Filters is one of the products that Dan stands behind. To order a Berkey, visit the United Environmental Solutions website.

How do you make sure your drinking water is safe? Please share in the comments below!