By Marilee Nelson
We’re not just selling soap at Branch Basics. We’ve founded the company on a mission to help people eliminate toxins from the places where people live, work, and play. To learn more about our big dreams, read the letter we wrote to celebrate our new brand launch.
We get a lot of questions from customers about what to do next. They’ve already switched to a nontoxic cleaning solution, and are hungry to keep improving their indoor air quality. In response to these requests, we’re starting a new series about common household chemicals to avoid.
We wanted to start with pesticides, which are some of the most dangerous to our health and can be one of the most pervasive in our homes. We hope you’ll join us in ditching these synthetics! Read about the rest of the common chemicals to avoid here.
Common Chemicals To Avoid: Pesticides
Pesticides are a category of chemicals that you can start removing right away. Pesticides are considered to be a universal sensitizer by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), which is a chemical that can make a person sensitive to all harmful chemicals if there is a big enough exposure. Removal or reduction in exposure to pesticides is an important proactive move for your family’s health.
The good news is, you can dramatically improve your air quality once you learn how to remove pesticides from your home.
Why are Pesticides So Dangerous?
Of all the chemicals we are exposed to, pesticides are absolutely the most dangerous. Removing them from your diet and home is a great first step in creating a healthy environment and immune system. Dr. Sherry Rogers, M.D., author of Detoxify or Die has stated that, “the number one culprit that has damaged the largest number of people has to be pesticides.”
Pesticides are classified as both VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and SVOCs (semi volatile compounds). They can cause damage via ingestion through non-organic food, via inhalation of vapors (VOCS), and through exposure to contaminated dust (SVOCS) after use. Young children who may be in close contact with floors and contaminated surfaces are especially at risk. Just having these products under your sinks and in cabinets results in an exposure to the pesticide through the release of VOCs from the containers, creating a low level pesticide exposure throughout the home. Pesticides used in lawn care also increases exposure to pesticides. Acute symptoms from pesticide exposures may include headache, dizziness, respiratory difficulty, muscular weakness, and nausea. Pesticides are considered endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic, and neurotoxic. In addition, pesticides can even cause genetic damage, setting the body up for future disease. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticide exposure. If you’d like to know more about the differences between children and adults when it comes to pesticide exposure, read the EPA publication “Play It Safe”.
How to Remove Pesticides from Your Home
Here are the steps we recommend taking to give your body a break from this treacherous immune stressor:
1 – Eat Organic
Whenever possible, eat organic foods to reduce pesticide exposure in your diet. We recommend organic food, whether you are eating plants or animal products. Conventional meats come from animals that are fed GMO feed and are raised with growth enhancing hormones that cause reproductive and metabolic problems in people. In some areas it is difficult or too expensive to buy all organic produce. Use the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce – the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen to help you make the best decisions possible. If you do buy conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, be sure to wash them well before using and remove skins if appropriate.
Have you heard of organophosphate pesticides? They are one of the most commonly used classes of insecticides in the U.S. and are found on a wide variety of crops. Organophosphates are neurotoxins that have been associated with lower levels of testosterone and other sex hormones, according to the Pesticide Action Network of North America. Mothers exposed to organophosphates while pregnant also experience increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which can increase the risks for miscarriage, preeclampsia, and developmental delays for the child. A review by the USDA found unacceptable levels of pesticide residue in many baby foods. The easiest way to avoid organophosphates is to go organic, as organic farmers are prohibited from using synthetic pesticides on their fields.
2 – Remove pesticide products in your home and your attached garage
Removing pesticides from your living environment will immediately improve your home’s air quality. Take all sprays, strips, foggers, or bombs for bee, ant, wasp, roach, spiders out of the house and attached garage. Dispose of them appropriately.
3 – Consider organic bedding and linens
Seek out USDA certified organic textiles, which must be grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Organic cotton is an especially green choice because regular cotton is one of the most pesticide intensive crops. Important cost consideration note: If you sun new conventional sheets, blankets, and towels and then wash them in a safe product like Branch Basics,this helps to volatize and break down the pesticides out of the fabric. If you desire to go organic, many stores now carry organic bedding. For example, Bed Bath and Beyond has many organic options. Apartment Therapy also compiled some organic bedding options.
4 – Stop toxic extermination of your home
- Switch to non-toxic methods of pest control and management. Choose Integrative Pest Management (IPM), which focuses on eliminating the causes of pest infestations:
- Keep pests out — Seal all cracks you can find into your home. If pests can’t get inside, then you won’t need to use any pesticides to kill them.
- Starve and dry pests out — Keep your house very clean and eliminate pest access to food and water.
- Eliminate safe havens for pests — Roaches can live in any nook and cranny. Seal up any small cracks leading to a spot that people can’t access.
- Treat existing pest problems — To get rid of existing pests, use traps, vacuums, gels and baits.
- Contact non-toxic pest control services and tell them you want totally non-toxic, not “least toxic”, pesticide options. In particular, beware of pyrethoid, pyrethrum, and permethrim-based pesticides, as they are often touted as natural. These are dangerous pesticides and have damaged many children.
5 – Do not chemically treat your lawn
Avoid chemically treated lawn care altogether. Lawn care pesticides have been linked to childhood cancers, learning disabilities, asthma, neurological damage, and developmental delays. Glyphosate is the chief ingredient used in America’s most popular herbicide, Monsanto’s Roundup, and has been linked to birth defects, DNA damage, hormone disruption, cancer and neurological disorders. Ditch this weed killer for good. Get rid of weeds naturally, using boiling water, vinegar, salts or pulling them out by hand. If you are looking for nontoxic lawn care products, check out Medina, which provides lawn care products that are safe and will produce a beautiful lawn.
6 – Protect Your Kids – Do not use toxic insect repellents
Most insect repellents contain DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide). One-third of all Americans use this repellant, which has been shown to be toxic to the central nervous system. Natural insect repellant solutions exist. Otherwise, candles with eucalyptus oil or citronella oil in the area are helpful. You can also add these live plants in the area where you spend time outside, like a deck in patio. The natural fragrance repels mosquitoes and other pests.
7 – Protect your Pets – avoid tick and flea collars
Your flea and tick collars may be killing your pets Flea collars leave a toxic residue that affects not only your pet, but also your children and anyone else that comes in contact with the pet. Use non-toxic methods for fleas and ticks like Holistic Family Pets or Only Natural Pet.
8 – Become an informed consumer and stop buying pesticides
You can make the personal choice for your family to remove pesticides from your home and stop buying them. Even better, contact your local government to request the use of only safe pest control. Do what you can to discourage the use of unnecessary or unsafe pesticides in parks, schools and other public places.
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Consultant, Building Materials Specialist, Certified Baubiologist, Certified Baubiology Inspector, and Board Certified Nutritionist. Her research and experience with clients around the country ties acute and chronic illness with exposure to environmental stressors – chemicals in air, food and water and the increase in exposure to electromagnetic fields. She is dedicated to educating people about how a nutrient rich diet coupled with an environment free of products with synthetic chemicals is foundational to health.
Join us for the whole series about household chemicals: Common Household Chemicals to Avoid: A Branch Basics Series.
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