I started my own green living journey because of environmental reasons, nearly 15 years ago as an engineering student. 10 years later when I was pregnant with my first child, I realized that there were some pretty good health benefits to what I was doing too. But the messaging was all wrong. Maybe you’ve seen them too? Those click-bait headlines telling us that our home is a “toxic soup” of chemicals that are killing us.
My brain does not deal well with gross exaggerations, nor over simplifications. In fact, it’s why I started Green at Home – to create a source of balanced, informative content and resources to help people understand the facts and know what to do with them.
So let’s get to it shall we? Let’s cut through the hype of those “Your Home is Killing You” headlines.
Your Health and Your Home
Your home isn’t killing you. But it might be reducing your health and well-being. And if not now, then in the future.
You see, the “toxic soup of chemicals” we hear about in sensationalist news reports and fundraising campaigns isn’t typically enough to kill us (at least not directly). But they are enough to lower our quality of life.
And the problem is, we’ve come to expect that certain ailments are just part of life: Painful periods. Difficulty conceiving. Fatigue. Weight gain. Extreme menopause symptoms. Early puberty in children.
While not all of us experience symptoms, chances are we’re all affected. And if we’re not now, we may be in the future.
What the Science Says
We are exposed to very low amounts of chemicals through our household products – body care, cosmetics, kitchenware, and furniture. Conventional toxicology tells us that these low doses are harmless. Even if the chemicals are known carcinogens or hormone disruptors, they are not present in large enough doses to cause concern.
However, it is only recently that the science has started looking at the long-term effect of low dose exposures – which is what we’re exposed to every day. So while your shampoo may not be killing you, your shampoo combined with your soap, lotion, make-up, deodorant, cleaners, candles, and mattress are putting stress on your body that can lead to health issues.
Low Dose Health Effects
Here’s how low doses of chemicals impact us:
- Chemicals do not act on our bodies alone. We are exposed to hundreds a day, and these all contribute to our “body burden”.
- Our bodies are designed to detoxify what doesn’t belong. Our livers and kidneys are constantly removing toxins (naturally-occurring) and toxics (synthetics).
- When we are over-burdened by these toxins and toxics, our bodies can’t detoxify properly and the constant exposure overflows our systems.
- The toxic chemicals end up in our blood stream, making them more difficult to remove.
So it isn’t just about a single large dose, like conventional toxicology focuses on. Our exposures to chemicals are typically small but constant.
What does this mean?
In the case of hormone disrupting chemicals, scientists are finding it takes much lower doses than other chemicals to cause changes in the body – anything from low sperm counts to decreased egg function to more severe PCOS symptoms.
Even carcinogens, which previously were thought to act only with high doses, are being found to trigger cancer-causing reactions in the body at much lower doses.
And with all chemicals, children are more susceptible to health effects of exposure from the womb through to adolescence.
So, while the science is starting to identify problems with what we’re putting on our bodies and using in our homes, unfortunately it takes time for regulators to catch up. It’s not enough to believe that if it’s on store shelves it’s safe, because “safe” is a pretty subjective term. No, you won’t die from your shampoo, but it might just put your body into overload and trigger health impacts like from asthma and allergies to infertility.
To learn more about how you can lower your exposure to toxins in your home, check out our free downloads and more in-depth courses here.