TOXIC CHEMICALS IN YOUR HOME
- Recipes for Non-Toxic
Household Products -
And How to Reduce the Amount of Toxic Chemicals in Your Home Environment
“Our society is producing chemicals at a rate faster than we can determine their environmental and health effects and faster than we can find proper methods of disposal; poor disposal methods and lack of knowledge of toxic effects produce environmental time bombs. “ -“Environmental Studies—The Earth as a Living Planet” by Daniel B. Botkin and Edward A. Keller (Columbus 1982)
U.S. drinking water contains more than 2100 toxic chemicals that can cause cancer.
Ralph Nader Research Institute
The World Health Organisation says that most cancers are caused from coming in contact with toxic chemicals in our environments.
WHY IS ORGANIC BEST DESPITE THE COST?
*Organic foods contain no harmful pesticides, artificial preservatives or chemical cocktails which can cause health problems.
*Organic foods are likely to have a higher nutrient content.
*Organic food is often less processed, and usually presented in either environmentally-friendly packaging or significantly less packaging than highly processed foods.
*Organic foods are not genetically-engineered. GMO foods and crops have only been around for a relatively short period of time, but already have been linked to allergic reactions, the rapid decline of bee populations, and other health and environmental issues. There is no real information on what the long term effects will be for humans regularly ingesting genetically-engineered foodstuffs.
*Organic foods, and all foodstuffs which contain no harmful additives, are better for the environment. If you eat foods with toxic additives, these chemicals will either be absorbed by your bodily tissues, and you may suffer short term or long term health problems as a result, or these toxic chemicals will be expulsed by your body and end up in the environment, polluting waterways and oceans.
*Organic foods contribute less to global warming due to less processing (processing involves greater fuel and energy usage.)
Make sure the food labeled organic is certified, otherwise the word "organic" on the label, or incorporated into the product's name, could simply be a marketing ploy be a less than scrupulous manufacturer.
Ways to Clean Without Chemicals
The miracle of vinegar
1. Glass cleaner for windows and mirrors - dilute vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio (1 cup vinegar to 1 cup water) and put in a clean spray bottle. Use as you would window cleaner with a clean paper towel or clean lintless cotton cloth to clean windows and mirrors. Leaves a clean, streak-free shine.
2. For spot-free glasses in the dishwasher - add about 1/2 cup to the rinse container in your dishwasher. Vinegar leaves glasses spot-free, sparkly and without residue. Also keeps residue from forming inside your dishwasher.
3. To clean and deodorize cat litter boxes - Instead of scrubbing the litter box out with a toxic soap or cleaner, clean with 1 cup vinegar and warm water before drying and refilling with fresh litter. Vinegar is great at eliminating odours and cleaning, without leaving any toxins behind for pets to be exposed to.
4. As rinse agent in the laundry - Vinegar is a good addition to the final rinse cycle of the laundry. It is particularly useful if washing cloth nappies (it helps to neutralize the soap chemicals and as additional deodorizer). Also use with soiled sheets or sour towels to freshen and get rid of bad smells.
5. To clean and freshen coffee pot - To really clean a drip coffee maker that is starting to produce bitter coffee or suffers from "clogs", vinegar is the perfect agent. You'll notice a change in the taste of your coffee right away. Fill the coffee pot with water and 1 cup vinegar. Pour the water into the canister and brew as you would coffee. After all the vinegar water has passed through, empty the pot and fill with fresh water, run this through once to rinse out any vinegar that might be left behind. Dump the water and you're ready to brew a fresh pot of coffee!
6. As a general cleaner for floors, counters, and surfaces - Add 1 cup vinegar to 4 litres warm water for a good general cleaner. This works great on floors and doesn't create any residue while picking up scuffs and odours. Also good as an everyday cleaner for counters and other non-wood surfaces.
Combine a strong version of all-purpose cleaner with baking soda and wear gloves when scrubbing.
Another effective oven cleaner is ammonia. Place about 50 ml (¼ cup) in a shallow pan and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. (Do not use an aluminium pan.) Heat the oven for twenty minutes, turn the oven off and place the pan in the oven overnight. Baked-on foods will be loosened, and the oven can be cleaned by scrubbing with baking soda.
Or sprinkle dry baking soda on greasy patches and leave overnight. Next day use a non-metal scourer, a little water, maybe a tad more baking soda, and a little scrubbing, and your oven will be clean without too much effort, and no toxins!
“The things of nature are the things of God...Men are but stewards of God’s wealth, and they must use it for the common good.”
- Aquarian Gospel
MULTI-PURPOSE NATURAL COMPOUNDS
Eucalyptus Oil, Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil* are very effective natural antiseptics and disinfectants. Eucalyptus oil is excellent for stain removal and cleaning. A few drops of tea tree oil in the final rinse when washing the family dog is useful as a deodoriser and flea repellent. Natural oils should be used sparingly and kept out of reach of children. Like most concentrated substances, these liquids can cause poisoning if swallowed.
Lavender oil, when used as an air freshener or when dabbed around doorways and open windows helps to keep flies away. Citronella is also a natural insect repellent.
Salt can be used to clean brass and copper, and to remove stains from baths.
Vinegar revives colours in clothes, prevents colours running, stops over-sudsing and revitalises dishcloths.
Washing Soda softens water, helps to save on soap and cleans down paintwork.
Bicarbonate of Soda can be used to wash out fridges, removes odours from hands, and lightly dusted under the arms is a very effective deodorant. It relieves itches, scratches and stings, and when combined with vinegar, clears blocked drainage pipes. Bicarbonate of soda also whitens dentures when used dry in combination with toothpaste.
Wash leaves with soapy water, then rinse. Check Organic Gardening section for other helpful hints.
Informative website covering the health effects of toxins in our environment and food here.
Did you know chemicals in your house, garden, and even in the food you eat, could be making you, your family, and our planet sick?
In the average home, it is possible to identify the residue of more than 150 different chemicals in household dust. Most householders regularly use products created from various toxic chemical cocktails to clean, disinfect, and kill plants and creatures considered to be pests. Noxious chemical compounds also often lurk in various household food stuffs, other than certified organic or labeled as containing no artificial ingredients, commonly causing allergic reactions or resulting in other harmful effects on you and your family’s health. Even non-organic meat products can contain pesticides, artificial colouring, preservatives, growth stimulants, hormones and antibiotics. “Meat contains approximately 14 times more pesticides than do plant food; dairy products, 5.5 times more. Thus by eating foods of animal origin, one ingests greatly concentrated amounts of hazardous chemicals.” Lewis Regenstein, Pesticide Analyst.
A relatively new group of toxic chemicals, fluorinated polymers are showing up in a lot of household products—from microwave popcorn bags and fast-food wrappers to stain-free carpets and windshield washer fluid. These fluorinated polymers, after they degrade and enter the biosphere, have been turning up in the blood of animals and human beings all over the world. This group of toxic chemicals, fluorinated polymers, have become known as perfluorocarboxylates (PFCAs).
Scientists now believe that the environmental and health risks posed by PFCAs may equal or even exceed those from PCB and DDT. Heavy concentrations of fluorinated polymers have been found in the blood of seals and polar bears in the Arctic, far from any possible industrial source. Concentrations in seals are doubling every five years, a phenomenal rate, according to Scott Mabury, a scientist at the University of Toronto. Some scientists believe that ocean currents are responsible for spreading PFCAs,
PFCAs have been linked to cancer and other developmental effects in animals, and these toxic chemicals are becoming increasingly pervasive. PFCAs are often detected in the air and household dust, and scientists believe they will remain in the soil and elsewhere for hundreds of years. Despite the emerging risks of PFCAs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still debating how to classify the chemicals in terms of their relationship to cancer in humans.
On a different aspect of household pollution, scientific studies have shown regular use of disinfectant on surfaces to remove bacteria can actually lead to children in those homes, developing immunity-related health problems or allergies. (Similarly, studies have also shown that children who do not grow up in a household with pets, especially cats, are likely to develop immunity problems and allergic tendencies.)
Households contribute a huge proportion of the world’s pollutants making its way into our waterways and oceans, causing large scale devastation to the world’s oceanic environment and killing huge numbers of its inhabitants. The average house has an estimated six to fifteen litres of hazardous products, stored and used, at any one time. In the U.S. alone, householders generate 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste each year. Although a considerably smaller figure, Perth (Australia) generates 15,000 tonnes of toxic, solid household waste annually (no figures available on hazardous, liquid waste generated by households in the Perth region).
Conventional laundry products are usually petroleum intensive. They contain artificial dyes such as optical brighteners which are fluorescent to capture and reflect light and make clothes appear brighter. Their main ingredients are derived from petroleum and they contain perfumes.
When you use that chemical toilet bowl cleaner, sink cleanser or laundry product you end up flushing those chemicals down the drain. It is estimated we pour millions of pounds of household cleaning products down the drain each day, and over 12 billion pounds of household cleaning products down the drain each year.
Pesticides are chemical, or biological substances, designed to kill, control or repel a variety of living organisms. They can be categorized as having an effect on insects (insecticides), weeds (herbicides), mould and fungus (fungicides) and rodents (rodenticides). 2.3 billion pounds of pesticides were used in the United States in 1995 (current figures are estimated to be drastically higher). In California, U.S. more pesticides are used per acre around homes, than farmers use in the fields per acre. Californias use about 300 million pounds of poisonous pesticides inside and outside their homes.
When householders use a pesticide, only one tenth of one percent (.001 one thousandth), of an applied pesticide reaches the target pest, the remaining amount pollutes our environment and creates a health risk to all living things. Has anyone heard of a fly swatter?
Scientific evidence links many synthetic chemicals to increases in asthma, learning and behavioral disorders, infertility and cancers of the breast, brain, ovary, testicles and prostate. Children, and household pets, are at greater risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals than adults. In the U.S. (2004) 5,643 calls were received at the Pittsburgh Poison Centre about exposure to household cleaners. Noxious household products poured down the drain or buried in the backyard can permanently damage rivers, forests and farm land.
Many environmentally-safe, readily available, extremely effective alternatives exist. And the great thing is these alternatives are also inexpensive. Great for householders trying to maintain a budget in this costly day and age.
“Almost every part of the human body is affected by one pollutant or another. Some are stored or incorporated into living tissue, sometimes permanently.” - Botkin & Keller
Safe - Effective - Cheap Alternatives
to costly, harmful chemicals
Multipurpose, inexpensive, non-toxic and effective cleaners—baking soda, salt, vinegar and lemon juice.
Baking soda can even be used to clean the most dirty hands (even covered in oil). Just lightly moisten your hands and then sprinkle one some baking soda and wash as normal, then rinse off baking soda. Repeat if necessary. Much better on your hands than harsh chemical cleansers!
Recipes for a less toxic home—supplied by Greenpeace
Mild Mixture: 4 litres (1 gallon) hot water
50 ml (¼ cup) sudsy ammonia
50 ml (¼ cup) vinegar
15 ml (1 tablespoon) baking soda
This solution is safe for all surfaces, can be rinsed with water, and is very effective for most jobs. For a stronger cleaner or wax stripper, double the amounts of all ingredients except water. Use gloves, and do not mix with other compounds, especially chlorine bleach. Never mix ammonia and bleach as an extremely toxic gas is produced.
Add 80 ml washing soda (sodium carbonate) to water as machine is filling. Add clothes. Add 375 ml (1½ cups) of soap. If the water is hard, add 50 ml (¼ cup) soda or 50 ml (¼ cup) vinegar during the first rinse. To prevent yellowing, run your laundry through the washer with 80 ml washing soda before you convert to soap.
There are also alternatives to enzyme pre-soaks and bleach for tough stains. Test each of the following remedies on your fabric first. If it begins to discolour, neutralize the cleaning agent immediately. Acids (lemon juice and vinegar) neutralize alkalies (baking soda and ammonia), and alkalies neutralize acids. Wash after applications.
Heavy Stains: Rub with solution of 30 ml (2 tablespoons) washing soda in 250 ml (1 cup) warm water.
Soiled Nappies: Pre-soak in 45 ml (3 tablespoons) baking
soda dissolved in warm water in either tub or washing machine.
Fruit and Wine: Immediately pour salt or hot water on the
stain and soak in milk before washing.
Grease: Pour boiling water on stains and follow with dry baking soda. Alternatively, try ammonia and water.
Ink: Soak in milk or remove with hydrogen peroxide.
Blood: Soak in cold water or remove with hydrogen peroxide. For a more stubborn stain mix cornstarch, talcum powder, or cornmeal with water and apply this mixture to the stained area. Allow to dry and brush away.
Coffee: Mix egg yolk with luke-warm water and rub on the stain.
Chewing Gum: Rub with ice. The gum will flake off.
Lipstick: Rub with cold cream or shortening and wash with washing soda.
Rust: Saturate with sour milk (or lemon juice) and rub with salt. Place in direct sunlight until dry, then wash.
Mildew: Pour strong soap and salt on the spots and place in sunlight. Keep the spots moist, and repeat as often as necessary.
Scorches: Boil scorched article in 250 ml (1 cup) soap and 2 litres (quarts) milk.
For tougher stains, repeatedly blot with vinegar in soapy water. For red wine spills, blot with white wine and warm, soapy water. Quick deodorizing is easy if you sprinkle the carpet with baking soda, then vacuum. For spot stains, mix up a thick paste of baking soda and water and apply to affected area. When dry, vacuum up the residue.
Copper: Lemon juice and salt, or hot vinegar and salt.
Chrome: Rubbing alcohol, or a small amount of ammonia with hot water. Also try white flour on a dry rag.
Brass: Equal parts salt and flour, with a little vinegar.
Silver: Bring the following to boil in a large pan - one litre (quart) water; one 15 ml (tablespoon) baking soda. Drop in silver, boil for 3 minutes, and polish with a soft cloth or a paste of wood ash and water.
CLEANING MIRRORS, GLASS & WINDOWS
Wash with simple soap and water. Rinse with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water or use a spray bottle and a mixture of 120 ml (½ cup) ammonia, 25 ml vinegar, and 1 litre (quart) of very warm water - the warmer the water, the faster the evaporation. use washable, reusable cheese cloth rather than paper towels or dry with loosely crumpled sheets of newspaper.
Drains can be kept clean, open and odour-free without the use of corrosive drain cleaners. Firstly, never pour liquid grease down a drain, and secondly, always use a drain sieve.
In the event that a drain does become clogged, pour in 50 ml (¼ cup) baking soda followed by 125 ml (½ cup) vinegar, close the drain until the fizzing stops, and flush with boiling water.
CLEANING THE TUB & TILES
Most commercial tile cleaners contain chlorine, a serious irritant to the eyes, nose and skin, and believed to be one of the most environmentally harmful chemicals found in municipal sewers. When cleaning the bathroom use a firm-bristled brush with either baking soda and hot water or the mild all-purpose cleaner.
Stains on baths can be removed by scrubbing with a slice of lemon dipped in salt or use a cloth dipped in vinegar. Or use dry baking soda with a non-metal scourer.
A ball of steel wool can also be extremely useful for cleaning the bath and tiles simply using tap water to facilitate the cleaning process.
Dissolve soap flakes in hot water and add some vinegar to the water for tough grease.
Most store-bought polishes contain solvents that are released into the air. Aerosol sprays are wasteful, and many contain gases harmful to the environment.
Furniture Polish: Dissolve 5 ml (1 teaspoon) lemon oil in ½ litre (1 pint) mineral oil. Apply with a rag.
Or rub crushed raw nuts on the wood for an oily polish.
Polishing Cloth: Melt 50 ml (¼ cup) paraffin wax and 50 ml (¼ cup) vinegar together in a double boiler. Soak a dusting rag in the mixture for a ½ hour, then squeeze and hang to dry.
Floor Polish: Melt 25 ml paraffin in a double boiler. Add 1 litre (quart) mineral oil and a few drops of lemon essence. Apply with a rag, allow to dry, and polish.
INSECTICIDES AND REPELLANTS
For Cockroaches: Chopped bay leaves & cucumber skins
For Moths: Put clothes in cedar chests, or place cedar chips around clothes.
SILVER CLEANER Soak silver in 1 qt. warm water containing 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, and a piece of aluminum foil.
TOILET BOWL CLEANER Sprinkle baking soda around bowl, some vinegar, and scrub with toilet brush or scourer.
Commercial air fresheners work by masking smells, `coating nasal passages and deadening nerves to chemically alter odours and diminish the sense of smell'. Instead of using these types of products, stock your house and office with plants. Studies by NASA and other scientific institutions have proven that plants purify the air, helping to remove harmful gases from the home and work environment. Research into plant capabilities to remove toxins from the air have proven that philodendrons are the most effective air purifier. Other highly effective plants include Mother-in-law's Tongue, English Ivy, Chrysanthemum, Chinese Evergreen, Pothos, Peach Lily, Corn Plant, Madagascar Dragon Tree, Heart Leaf, and Warenkil.
If you wish to scent the air, pot pourrie is a good alternative or pour a small amount of perfumed oil into a small porous clay pot placed on a mat or in a bowl to prevent staining the table surface. An oil burner with a few drops of essential oil is also a good way of refreshing and scenting the air naturally.
Baking soda in your refrigerator or garbage can help to reduce odours at their source.
TOXINS IN OUR OCEANS AND ITS
DEADLY EFFECT ON OCEAN LIFE
ARMY ADMITS IT DUMPED 64 MILLIONS POUNDS OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AT SEA
The army (US) admits it dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas at sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste.
In 1987, hundreds of dolphins washed ashore in Virginia and New Jersey shorelines with burns similar to mustard gas exposure. One marine-mammal specialist suspects army-dumped chemical weapons killed them. The dolphin photograph on the left is evidence of this chemical carnage — image courtesy of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in New Jersey.
Since no attempts have been made to remove these chemical weapons and radioactive waste from the oceanic environment, further deaths to sea creatures, like dolphins and whales, are not only likely - they are certain. And it is very possible, that if these toxic chemicals leach out into the seas, they could find their way to shore with devastating effects.