November 10, 2008

Lifting the “Body Burden”: How to Fight Toxic Exposure and Protect Your Home from Dangerous Chems

Thousands of Americans buy chemical cleaning products each day, convinced the scented, neon liquids will protect them and their families from sickness and germs. But these people have been misinformed, bamboozled by marketing—it turns out that many of these chemical ingredients actually cause serious health problems. Women who work in the home are 54% more likely to die from cancer, due to exposure to household cleaning products. Asthma rates have increased fourfold in the last 20 years, making it the most common ailment in America.  Poor indoor air quality (up to twice as worse as outside air, according to the EPA) is taxing our health care system and putting kids at risk of a lifetime of complications.

It’s absolutely vital to know the ingredients of every product that you use and understand its effects on the human body, or to rely on companies that you know you can trust. Luckily, there are plenty of resources 

More details on the info outlined below can be found on The Huffington Post, in an article I co-wrote (!) with the illustrious Simran Sethi. Both posts were inspired by Seventh Generation’s “Chemicals and Children” discussion, organized with the Environmental Working Group at the Boston Children’s Museum last month. For more, check out the mini-videos below, from Seventh Generation‘s webcast of the event.

The Kids Safe Chemical Act: Right now, the FDA assumes new chemicals introduced to the market to be safe until proven otherwise—often by a lawsuit or serious injury by an unsuspecting customer. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s proposed Kid Safe Chemical Act would change this, and require ingredient disclosure and extensive studies on all new chemicals. Sign the petition supporting the act here.

Find Out What’s Inside: Seventh Generation, the largest natural cleaning product company in the world, is leading a campaign for full ingredient disclosure on all cleaning products. Until all companies follow their lead and list ingredients on their bottles, you can search hard-to-pronounce ingredients on Seventh Gen’s online database to find out how dangerous they are and what effects they have on the body. (For example, can anyone tell me the difference between laurel sulfate and laureth sulfate?). Seventh Gen’s database can also be downloaded onto your iPhone or Blackberry, so you can search from the supermarket cleaning aisle. Another great resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database, where you can search the products you use each day and find a toxicity rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) and an explanation of all ingredients.

Buy From Companies You Trust: We’ve reviewed some of our favs here. Or, the ultimate in transparency, mix your own cleaning solutions using these recipes.

Seventh Generation “brand mother’ Courtney Loveman discusses the company’s mission to disclose all ingredients and abstain from using harmful chemicals.

Pediatrician Alan Greene discusses they very real threat of chemical cleaning products and how they affect children’s health and development.

Jane Houlihan, of Environmental Working Group, presents the results of a study on toxins in the umbilical chord blood of 10 unborn babies.

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Merete Mueller  |  Contribution: 13,520