Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Toxic Free Homes

 Hi - here is an interesting report written by a New Zealaner whose children were getting sick and she investigated why - we have to question what we buy and why  - do we even need a cleaner on that floor ?  I mostly use water - I have so many people who come into the gardens and say they or their children are sick with cancer and they lead moderate lifestyles - this would be the reason - a constant drip of chemicals from our pillows (they contain a neuro toxin) to the makeup we put on our faces - there is alot we can do - it is about making the right choices - pick the eco tick or make your own cleaners


legal Stuff: This information is copyright © to ISherry Tyler, 1060 Paerata Rd, Pukekohe,

New Zealand. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without

pThere are lots of hazards our kids have to face everyday such

as burns, falls, electrical shocks and choking. But there is

another hazard that you might not even be aware of. I know I

wasn't! That hazard is: toxic chemicals.

Scientists and doctors are discovering that there is a

connection between our health and the use of everyday

household cleaners and personal care products. If you have

a typical Kiwi home you've probably got dozens of them

already which you purchased from the supermarket, chemist

or department store. Just take a look under your sinks in your

laundry, kitchen or bathroom. They're all there…

But the fact is there has been very little actual testing done on

many of these substances especially when it comes to longterm


Did you know that according to the International Institute

for Children's Environmental Health, that there have been

about 80,000 synthetic chemicals developed for the world

marketplace since World War II? (1). And since then, about

1500 new chemicals are introduced annually (2). It's kind of

ironic how these products which were and are being developed

to help the world, could actually be contributing to the rise

of certain chronic health problems in children, like asthma,

eczema, learning problems and cancer.

To me it's easy to see why we haven't seen it coming. I believe

it's a combination of our commercial laws, the 'profit at almost

any cost' attitudes of the manufacturers and the fact that

many of the suspected diseases these products cause are

slow to show themselves. If a toddler drinks 'Janola' we know

she will get sick and we can take steps (if we're quick enough)

to prevent death or serious injury. But what about the longterm

health effects of a parent's regular use of the same

product? The answer is – nobody knows. There's just not

enough research available. And to me, it's not good enough.

we're poiSoning our KiDS

- without Knowing it!

Have we always been this sick? After World War II the death rate from cancer in New Zealand was

about one in thirty. Now, it's approximately one in four (3). The incidence of central nervous system

disorders like Alzheimer's and Multiple Sclerosis rises annually. Also on the rise are stillborn deaths,

birth defects, and infertility. Asthma was once a rare disease. Now it's common. It's the same with

eczema. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) may affect between 4-6 children between 6-14 years of age

in New Zealand. The incidence of cancer in children in the US has jumped 26% between 1975 and

1988 (4). Although other factors are involved, more and more scientists are linking these ailments to

long-term chemical exposure.

breaSt cancer in new ZealanD

One in nine New Zealand women will get breast cancer at some

time during their lives. Considerable attention has been focused

on breast cancer over recent years, but almost all of this has

been done on early detection or on figuring out the genetic

factors that underlie a small percentage of cases (less than


Meanwhile the more than 50% of breast cancer that is explained

by known risk factors is ignored. According to Dr Meriel Watts,

Environmental Health researcher from Auckland, there has

been official silence on the likely environmental causes of

this epidemic in New Zealand despite scientific evidence that

implicates hundreds of chemicals in breast cancer. Many of

these chemicals are found in the average home and can be

eliminated from our immediate environment (5).

are our KiDS guinea pigS?

According to American Doctor Herbert L Needlemann M.D in his book Raising Children

Toxic Free, "only a fraction of new chemical compounds invented and dispersed into

our environment have been tested for human toxicity. We are by default conducting a

massive clinical toxological trial. And our children and their children are the experimental


Q: what iS the Source of chemicalS?

a: your home.

We spend most of our time indoors and most of that time at home. Because of

that, we are most likely to be exposed to toxic chemicals (6). Young children spend

even more time in the home than older children or adults.

In 1987 the US Environmental Protection Agency undertook a programme to

identify and compare the urgency of environmental problems. Among the top

hazards were those found indoors, including exposure to cleaning products (7).

Another study, conducted over a 15 year period found that women who worked at

home had a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who had jobs away

from home. The study concluded that the increased death rate was due to daily

exposure to the hazardous chemicals found in ordinary household products (8).

Obviously the children in these homes are also exposed to the same chemicals,

with even greater risk of illness.

© Copyright – Sherry Tyler, 2006 Email: Web: 3

I have found it important to understand how toxic chemicals can enter a human body. It goes a long

way to realising how harmful products may be affecting your health or the health of your children and

to find safe alternatives to replace them.

There are 3 ways toxic chemicals can enter your body. By eating or drinking it, by breathing it and by

absorbing it through the skin.

ingeStion is eating or drinking something. Most accidental poisoning deaths occur this way.

Each year in New Zealand around 500 children under 5 are admitted to hospital overnight or longer for

a poisoning. About one child per year dies. Although hospital stays can be short, some of the injuries

caused by poisonings result in lifelong consequences. According to Emergency Dept data provided by

Kidzfirst Hospital in South Auckland, around three quarters of these poisonings occur in the home.

Of all children aged 5 or younger, the most common poisonings occur as a result of household cleaning

or personal care products (9).

Young children are curious and learn by putting things in their mouths. Unfortunately young children

can't read labels! Lemon scented furniture polish smells like lemonade. A mothball designed to kill

bugs looks like a mint lolly. You can take action right now by moving toxic substances out of reach

of children. Even substances like perfume, and mouthwash can be lethal if swallowed. The news

seems to be full of stories of toddlers who have their throats burnt away by caustic and toxic automatic

dishwashing formulations.

To me, having these products under a sink and accessible to young children is the same as having a

loaded gun in the same place!I

inhalation is breathing in something. Poisoning is more common than swallowing and can

even be more harmful. This is a gradual poisoning that happens over time as children breathe the

vapours from toxic chemicals. Toxic fumes can be released even when a container is tightly sealed.

Don't believe me? Just walk down the 'cleaning products' isle of your local supermarket. You can

immediately smell fumes! This is called 'outgassing'.

Did you know that when you inhale toxic fumes, the poisons go directly to your brain, heart, liver and

kidneys? This can immediately cause headaches, muscle aches and light headedness. All symptoms

of poisoning. Many products like shampoos give off toxic vapours that can irritate your nose, mouth,

throat and lungs and cause sinus infections.

Children can inhale toxic vapours while you are cleaning even if you keep the products out of their

reach. Toxic residues on bed sheets and pillow cases from everyday laundry cleaning products can be

inhaled throughout the night while children are sleeping.

abSorption occurs when a substance

is admitted through the skin. We all know that

Nicotine patches are very effective and work

because of the principle of absorption. So does

using a moisturiser. Well, the same thing applies

for toxic products. Although it's not often thought

of, the skin is permeable and very easily allows

toxic substances to enter our bodies.

Most people are not aware of absorption; for

example when cleaning the bathroom. Skin

absorption can even happen when you come into

a contact with a surface that was treated with

a chemical days or even weeks earlier. This is

especially a problem for children as they may be

touching or crawling around on recently cleaned

surfaces with toxic residues.

acute toxicity

This is basically a one-time exposure that leads

to life threatening effects or death. An example

would be a child swallowing a cleaning product

that was not kept out of reach. The national

Poisons Centre has been set up to handle calls

relating to this type of poisoning.

chronic toxicity

This form of poisoning is more insidious. This

occurs when we are repeatedly exposed to toxins

in small amounts over a long period of time. The

effects of these exposures can be cancer, birth

defects, and genetic changes which may not show

up for years.

If you smoke a single cigarette it will most likely not cause cancer, but

if you smoke then repeatedly over a long period of time, the chances

of contracting the disease are considerable. It's the same with toxic

cleaning products. Repeated use every day or week for years may

result in chronic poisoning except that now, your family or children are

also affected – not just you!

Studies also show how chemicals can become more harmful as they

combine with each other.

why ShoulD i worry?

Many people who are not sick may think 'Why should I worry?" Well,

they should worry because these products are universally injurious,

even to fit and healthy people. Should a teenager worry about the

long-term effects of smoking when he/she has only just started and

is in good health?

Of course! Remember, it took decades for scientists to work out the

link between smoking and cancer deaths in smokers.

Chemicals enter and can stay inside our bodies, particularly in our

adipose fat tissue. One study showed that 100% of the people tested

had toxic styrene in their fat from drinking from disposable plastic

foam cups or eating takeaways from foam containers. Number

two on the list, again found in 100% of the people tested, was

1,4 – Dichlorobenzene, a chemical frequently used in household

deodorizers! (10).

Children are particularly at risk from toxic chemicals because they have special vulnerabilities.

Their bodies are less developed. Children's bodies are far from being fully formed. Their immune

system is less developed and cannot protect against toxic exposure as an adult can.

Developing cells in children's bodies are more susceptible to damage than adult cells that have

completed development, especially for the central nervous system. During the development of

a child, from conception through to adolescence, there are particular windows of vulnerability to

environmental hazards. Exposure at these moments of vulnerability can lead to permanent and

irreversible damage. Even small doses of neurotoxins, which could be harmless in an adult, can

alter a child's nervous system development (11).

Proportional to their body weight, children eat, breathe and drink more than adults, and thus

take in far higher concentrations of the toxins in our environment. For example, proportionally

they drink seven times more water and breathe in twice as much air as adults (12).

Children put more foreign objects in their mouths. It's an essential part of learning especially for

babies and younger children. While protecting our children from bacteria may motivate parents

and day-care centres to use toxic cleaning products, the same chemicals may be causing chronic

problems for the child later in life.

how Safe are

houSeholD proDuctS?

The laws don't protect us. Most of us believe that the government has laws that protect us from

harmful products. Yes there are laws but they don't protect us very well.

Unfortunately, many products are assumed to be safe and are allowed to be sold in the marketplace

without adequate testing. Of the 17,000 chemicals that appear in common household products, only

30% have been adequately tested for their negative effects on our health; less than 10% have been

tested for their effects on the nervous system; and nothing is known about the combined effects of

those chemicals when mixed within our bodies (13).

cleaning proDuctS

Cleaning products are among the most hazardous substances you will find in your home. But did

you know there is no requirement for pre-market testing of these products? Manufacturers of these

hazardous products are not even required to list the exact ingredients on the label! You can't look at

a label and be sure, for instance, that a mould and mildew cleaner doesn't contain pentachlorophenol

– a substance that can kill. Some products are even protected by 'trade secrets'.

Here's a short list of some of the dangers associated with common household cleaning products.

air freShener – Toxic. May cause cancer. Irritates nose, throat and lungs.

all-purpoSe cleaner – Causes eye damage. Irritates nose throat and lungs.

bleach – Toxic by swallowing, vapours are harmful, causes central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

carpet Shampoo – Toxic. May cause cancer. Central nervous system and liver damage.

DiShwaSher Detergent – Toxic. Causes eye injuries. Damages mucous membranes and throat.

DiShwaShing liQuiD – Harmful if swallowed. Irritates the skin.

DiSinfectant – Very toxic. Causes skin, throat and lung burns, causes coma.

Drain cleaner – Toxic. Causes skin burns. Causes liver and kidney damage.

fabric Softener – Toxic. May cause cancer. Causes central nervous system disorders.

floor/furniture poliSh – Toxic. Central nervous system disorders. May cause lung cancer.

launDry Detergent – Toxic. Irritates the skin and lungs.

oven cleaner – Toxic. Causes skin, throat and lung burns.

Spot remover – Toxic. May cause cancer. Causes liver damage.

Stain remover – Toxic. May cause cancer. Vapours can be fatal.

toilet bowel cleaner – Very toxic. Causes skin, nose, throat and lung burns.

winDow cleaner – Toxic. Causes central nervous system disorders, liver and kidney disorders.

perSonal care proDuctS

Personal care products are designed to be applied to the skin. Because they can be absorbed into the

body, we need to be careful about the safety of these products. You would think these product would

be tested for safety according to regulations as strict as those for the food we eat. Unfortunately they

are not.

The law does not require that cosmetics be tested for safety before they are allowed to be sold. Only

AFTER harm has been done, enough complaints are received and after enough evidence is collected

can production of a harmful product be stopped.

Here's a short list of some of the dangers associated with common personal care products.

Shampoo – May cause cancer. Irritates eyes, skin and lungs.

DanDruff Shampoo – May cause cancer and organ degeneration, causes CNS disorders.

nit Shampoo – Toxic.

DeoDorant Soap – May cause cancer. Causes asthma. Irritates lungs.

bubble bath – Causes bladder & kidney infections. Irritates skin & nose.

mouSSe anD hairSpray – May cause cancer, causes lung disease, irritates the skin.

mouthwaSh – Toxic to children. May cause cancer.

breath Spray – May cause cancer.

coSmeticS – May cause cancer. Causes CNS damage, irritates skin and lungs.

perfume/cologne – Toxic. May cause cancer. One accidental swallow could kill a child.

about aeroSolS

Aerosol cans have extra danger apart from what toxic chemicals they may contain. The propellant gases

inside them are toxic. Common symptoms from exposure to these propellants include headaches,

nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, eye and throat irritation and skin rashes. In the long term,

exposure can cause heart problems, birth defects, lung cancer and liver damage.

The fine mist that an aerosol dispenses can be easily inhaled and absorbed. If the product contains

toxic agents (which many cleaning and personal products do) it can leave a small residue of toxic

substances on surfaces where children crawl, play eat and sleep.

Given that most products that come in aerosol cans also come in a pump-spray or other device for

application, my advice is to not have aerosol cans in the house – especially if you have children.

the happy enDing

For every toxic household cleaning or personal care product there is a safe

alternative. A number of conscientious companies are now offering household

products that are safer and more natural. Now, there is really no reason to risk

your health and the health of your loved ones any longer.

Along with a few like-minded parents, I have spent time researching a host of

alternatives and look forward to sharing my findings with you in the near future.


• Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home

• Dr Meriel Watts, The Poisoning of New Zealand

Institute for Children's Environmental Health

Safekids New Zealand Information & Resource Centre

ACC Poisoning Prevention Brochure

New Zealand Poisons Information Service

A list of toxic ingredients in everyday household products

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Burdens of Industrial Chemicals, Centre For Children's Health and the Environment, Mt

Sinai School of Medicine, NY 2001.

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