How to recognize YOUR toxic exposure sources ~ Lesson #7

I consider the time I spend on evaluating my household products and water to be an on-going inquiry.  I will make choices based on usage habits and eliminate fragrances from everything. (Priority based on health impact: make up, hair, soap and lotion, clothes, dishes, and then surfaces.)

If your primary immune defenses are intact (your skin and the mucous lining of your gut) you can keep out or poop or pee out most of what you ingest. 

If you breathe in the toxins, they are often small enough to bypass the lungs and sinus cavity and get directly into the bloodstream.  When this happens your kidneys and liver work hard to detoxify and try to put it into the gut so you can poop it out.  However our organs cannot remove all toxins from the bloodstream, so it gets recycled back into the blood until it either lands in our fatty tissue or is eliminated in our breath, sweat, urine, or poop.  (Did you see my first blog post article about how your body detoxes?)

The fact that these toxins are stored in your fatty tissues which exist though-out your entire body is an important fact to remember in considering how to repair the damage caused.

This page is organized as follows:

  • Toxic lifestyle quiz
  • Consumer product safety information
    • Consumer product look-up safety information (Government sources)
    • Consumer product look-up safety information (Private sources)
  • Look up your local water agency and filter your water

Toxic Lifestyle Quiz

Below are questions you should ask yourself when considering your daily lifestyle.  It is very important to stop for a second and consider your habits before looking at a list of toxin sources.  Sources could easily be overlooked if you aren’t thinking about your habits.

When taking the following quiz, the more questions you answer “yes” to, the more toxic your brain is likely to be.

  • Do you smoke, or are you around secondhand smoke?
  • Do you smoke marijuana?
  • Do you use conventional cleaning products and inadvertently breathe the fumes?
  • Have you been exposed to carbon monoxide?
  • Do you travel on planes more than six times a year?
  • Do you pump your own gas or breathe automobile exhaust?
  • Do you live in an area with moderate to high air pollution or are you being exposed to smoke from wildfires?
  • Have you lived or worked in a building that had water damage and mold in it?
  • Do you come in contact with flame-resistant clothing or carpet, or with furnishings sprayed with chemicals to prevent stains?
  • Do you spray your garden, farm or orchard with pesticides or live near an area with pesticides?
  • Do you paint indoors without ventilation?
  • Do you have more than four glasses of alcohol a week?
  • Do you regularly eat processed or fast foods?
  • Do you regularly eat conventionally raised produce, meat, dairy, or farm-raised fish?
  • Do you eat large (i.e., mercury-contaminated) fish, such as swordfish?
  • Do you eat non-organic fruits and vegetables on a regular basis?
  • Do you consume foods with artificial colors or sweeteners, such as diet sodas, or use artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame (NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), or saccharin (Sweet’N Low)?
  • Do you use more than 2 health and/or beauty products per day?
  • Do you use make-up?  (Often the minerals used for color contain heavy metals.)
  • Do you live in a house that contains lead pipes or copper plumbing soldered with lead (built prior to 1978)?
  • Do you have mercury amalgam fillings? How many? (Give yourself a point for each filling.)
  • Do you work in a job where you are exposed to environmental toxins, such as firefighting, painting, welding, longshoreman?
  • Have you had general anesthesia? How many times? (Give yourself a point for each event)
  • Do you use a CPAP machine? (They often have mold in them.)

How many points did you score?  Take note of this, because this is going to become part of your action plan.

List of Common Toxic Sources

Now, I will share with you the common list of toxins to consider.  Take a look at this and note any additional areas to consider for your action items.

Toxins that can be absorbed when ingested or applied to the skin:

  • Polluted or tainted water (including lead and arsenic)
  • BPA (bisphenol A, found in plastics, food and drink containers, dental sealants, and the coating of cash register receipts)
  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) found in paints, plastics, and rubber products
  • Heavy metals, such as:
    • Mercury: in “silver” dental fillings (which are 50 percent mercury), contaminated fish, and distributed ubiquitously in the environment
    • Lead: in contaminated drinking water, soils previously exposed to environmental contaminants, old and peeling paint, paint, lead pipes, aviation fuel
    • Cadmium: in soils treated with synthetic fertilizers and industrial waste sites
  • Excessive alcohol, marijuana, “lifestyle” and various illegal drugs, some prescription drugs
  • Many pain medications, notably prescription opioids and other narcotics, or benzodiazepines commonly prescribed for anxiety or insomnia
  • Chemotherapy can cause a long-term “brain fog” or “chemobrain”
  • General anesthesia can result in long-term memory loss in some patients
  • Artificial food dyes and preservatives, including bromates, nitrates or nitrites (processed meats), tartrazine dye (linked to asthma), MSG, red dye #40 and other “#” dyes. The artificial sweeteners aspartame (blue packets) saccharin (pink), and sucralose (yellow) all are linked to toxic effects on the body. The body’s detoxification systems often cannot process artificial chemicals that don’t occur in nature
  • Herbicides such as glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer, with residue present in genetically modified crops)
  • Pesticides including organochlorines and organophosphates, many of them powerful neurotoxins
  • Apples sprayed with diphenylamine (used to prevent the browning of fruit skin)
  • Foods manufactured with plastic equipment, leaking plasticizers

Toxins that can reach the bloodstream and brain tissues when inhaled:

  • Air pollutants, whether industrial or associated with lifestyle
  • Smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco, or marijuana; “vaping” of inhalants, secondhand smoke from being around smokers. All hot gases entering the lungs can be toxic.
  • Automobile exhaust—carbon dioxide and monoxide, but also numerous categories of small particulate matter that come out the tailpipe
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Welding, soldering fumes
  • Asbestos
  • Fireplace/campfire smoke
  • Paint and solvent fumes

Consumer Product Safety Information

With the toxic lifestyle quiz and list of common toxins, I hope you can consider how to eliminate or reduce toxins around you. 

While the FDA doesn’t oversee the products used for personal care, unless a therapeutic use is state on the label, the state of California just banned the use of specific ingredients from personal care products.  These are consider “Chemicals of Concern”.

What you will find on cleaning products is that they have less oversight on safety.  In fact manufacturers rarely list their full ingredients, which makes it difficult to know how safe the product is for use.  (Just because they say they are safe for “X” does not mean that they are safe for “Y” so don’t fall for that marketing gimmick!)

If you want information about a specific ingredient try this LINK.  What is cool about this is that it gives you the function of the ingredient, even if it doesn’t tell you the toxicity.

It is important to know when your body doesn’t eliminate these toxins they end up in fatty tissue, including your brain and in your blood stream.  When your body can’t clear toxins over time the body encases it in amyloid plaques which can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Also important to consider is the elimination of fragrances as much as possible because these are hormone disruptive, and can lead to issues such as intolerance or cancer.  (Our noses are far more important than we realize!!!)

Consumer Product Look-up Safety Information (Government Sources)

The Consumer Product Information Database (CPID) has been the source for the Household Products Database for 20 years and is used by a lot of third party companies.  It contains both personal products and cleaning products.   (ABOUT LINK)  (DATABASE LINK)

I checked it out.  VERY HELPFUL.  Here’s the results of SoftSoap which I immediately threw away. (LINK)  Formaldehyde is a non-negotiable for me.

Finding safer products is a challenge, and this is the EPA’s response to that.  (LINK)  Thankfully I had some safer soaps on hand. =)

Consumer Product Look-up Safety Information (Private Sources)

These databases help you evaluate product safety so you can decide what to eliminate from your life or purchase.

  • Environmental Working Group (Consumer driven organization – Very helpful lookup database from website.  =)
  • Safe Cosmetics  (Consumer driven organization.  A lot of well presented science here, but I don’t think there is a look-up database.) Here’s some info on chemicals of concern (LINK) and here’s the red list commonly found in certain product types (LINK).
  • Think Dirty (Industrial driven organization owned by P&G.  Requires app download)

Here is a couple screenshots after looking up Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion:

You won’t find all your products on EWG (I didn’t try ThinkDirty).  If you don’t find it on your first try, put in the brand name and then select the category of the product you are looking for.  I found a few I was looking for.  I had an eye creme that had a bad rating and eyes have a direct route to the brain.  …Worth the time. 

While there are tens of thousands of chemicals behind their look-up database, spending time here will help you learn about basic ingredients of products.

Check out this product, Revitin.  Imagine a product you don’t have to spit out, but rather are encouraged to swallow BECAUSE IT MAKES YOUR GUT HEALTHIER.  Big duh to the dental industry.

Lookup Your Local Water Agency and Filter Your Water

I found a link to evaluate my local water agency.  That is very cool. (LINK)  What I found extremely helpful was the chart showing the general effectiveness of 3 common water filter technologies.

I live in San Ramon and apparently my water comes from San Ramon.  Here is what the results looked like:

I also just bought a tool to measure how many parts per million there is in any water of concern.  (Helps me know when my carbon filters don’t work anymore.) (LINK)

My tap water results were 34 PPM and my Britta filter that needs replacing because it is 3 months old brought it down to 28 PPM.

The result shown below is clearly really bad and a lot of people could get results like this from their refrigerator filters that are neglected.  —–  Imagine being able to use this little swizzle stick to measure water anywhere you go.  For about $15 why not get one?