Interestingly, research has shown that you can help protect yourself from the adverse effects of inevitable BPA exposure by eating traditionally fermented foods, such as raw grass-fed organic kefir, fermented veggies, or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. These foods contain “friendly bacteria,” some of which have the ability to break down BPA, as well as reduce your intestinal absorption of it.9 Naturally, avoiding sources of BPA is your best bet. Here are 10 tips to help reduce your exposure to BPA around the house:
|Only use glass baby bottles and dishes for your baby||Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel travel coffee mugs rather than plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups|
|Get rid of your plastic dishes and cups, and replace them with glass varieties||Avoid using plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it)|
|Give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones||If you opt to use plastic kitchenware, at least get rid of the older, scratched-up varieties, avoid putting them in the dishwasher, and don’t wash them with harsh detergents, as these things can cause more chemicals to leach into your food|
|Store your food and beverages in glass containers||Avoid using bottled water; filter your own using a reverse osmosis filter instead|
|IF you choose to use a microwave, don’t microwave food in a plastic container||Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to your, or your children’s, teeth, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA|
In the event that you do opt to use plastic containers for your food or beverages, be sure to avoid those marked on the bottom with the recycling label No. 7, as these varieties may contain BPA. Containers marked with the recycling labels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 do not contain BPA (however they may contain other unsavory chemicals that you’re best off avoiding by using glass instead).
5. Clean Out Your Cleaning Products
Research has found that breast-cancer risk is twice as high among women who report the most use of cleaning products and air fresheners, compared to those who rarely use such products. While it is very difficult to prove that a person’s exposure to household cleaners over the course of 10, 20 or 30 years is what caused their cancer diagnosis, it is well known that commonly used household chemicals do, in fact, cause cancer, along with other serious health effects like reproductive and developmental problems in developing children.
Mold and mildew cleaners and air fresheners have shown the greatest correlation with breast cancer. Some of the chemicals of greatest concern that you’ll want to avoid include:
|Phenol||Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)||Formaldehyde|
|Petroleum solvents||Butyl cellosolve||Triclosan (antibacterial)|
My top list of cancer prevention strategies has always included reducing your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, and synthetic air fresheners. Fortunately, this is a relatively easy task to accomplish.
For those times when you need to do a bit of cleansing, one of the best non-toxic disinfectants is plain soap and water. You can use this for washing your hands, your body and for other household cleaning. Another all-purpose cleaner that works great for kitchen counters, cutting boards and bathrooms is 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. You can also keep your home very fresh and clean by making your own natural cleaning products using items you probably already have around your home. Some more tips for making simple and effective all-natural cleansers:
- Use baking soda mixed with apple cider vinegar to clean drains and bathtubs, or sprinkle baking soda along with a few drops of lavender oil or tea tree oil (which have antibacterial qualities) as a simple scrub for your bathroom or kitchen.
- Vinegar can be used to clean almost anything in your home. Try it mixed with liquid castile soap, essential oils and water to clean floors, windows, bathrooms and kitchens. It can even be used as a natural fabric softener.
- Hydrogen peroxide is safer to use than chlorine bleach for disinfecting and whitening.
- Vodka is a disinfectant that can remove red wine stains, kill wasps and bees and refresh upholstery (put it into a mister and simply spray on the fabric).
For a great video on how to use these ingredients and other tips for cleaning your home without hazardous chemicals, please review the article Clean and Green – Keep a Hygienic House with These Natural, Non-Toxic Cleaning Products. If you really want to use a commercial product, look for one that uses a natural base. To find out about the ingredients in common household products, there’s a searchable database you might find helpful from Environment, Health and Safety Online (EHSO)10.
6. “Green” Your Building Materials and Furnishings
The building materials used in your home can be a major source of toxic exposures of multiple kinds, from formaldehyde emissions from pressed wood products, to VOC’s from carpets and paints, just to name a few. Your furnishings can also harbor toxic chemicals.
While paints have gotten a lot less toxic over the past 25 years, most paints still emit harmful vapors, such as VOC’s, formaldehyde and benzene. These types of fumes can be released daily for about 30 days after application. Low levels can continue to leak into the air for as long as a year afterward, so you’ll want to make sure you ventilate the area repeatedly. Another danger is lead-based paint, which can be found in many homes built before 1978. Once the paint begins to peel away, it releases harmful lead particles that can be inhaled. In 1991, the U.S. government declared lead to be the greatest environmental threat to children.
Fortunately, it’s getting easier to find high-quality non-toxic paints, also known as “low-VOC” or “no-VOC” paint. Both large paint companies and smaller alternative brands now offer selections of such paints. For a list of distributors and manufacturers, check out healthyhomeplans.com11. Also limit or eliminate exposure by carefully selecting non-toxic carpeting, such as those made of wool, or opt for non-toxic flooring like solid wood or bamboo instead. One of the primary hazards when it comes to furnishings is flame retardants: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These are commonly found in:
- Upholstery, drapes and curtains
- Television and computer casings and circuit boards
Studies have linked PBDEs to learning and memory problems, lowered sperm counts and poor thyroid functioning in rats and mice. Other animal studies have indicated that PBDEs could be carcinogenic in humans, although that has not yet been confirmed.
Your mattress may be of particular concern, as many contain not only PBDE’s, but also toxic antimony, boric acid, and formaldehyde. Shopping for a safe mattress can be tricky, as manufacturers are not required to label or disclose which chemicals their mattresses contain. However, some manufacturers now offer toxin-free mattresses, such as those made of 100% wool, which is naturally fire resistant. There are also mattresses that use a Kevlar, bullet-proof type of material in lieu of chemicals for fire-proofing. These are available in most major mattress stores, and will help you to avoid some of the toxicity.
7. Eat Organic and Tend Your Garden Without Harmful Chemicals
Many pesticides and herbicides are potentially carcinogenic, and you may be exposed to them either via the foods you buy, or in your own garden.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic, and most are also damaging to your nervous system as well. Some of the pesticides/herbicides classified as probable or possible human carcinogens by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include:
The answer, of course, is to opt for organically-grown produce and organically-raised, pastured animal products, and using organic or non-toxic gardening methods around your own home.
It’s well known that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are often tainted with unacceptable levels of pesticide residues, but you’re also exposed when you eat animal products. Animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) eat feed full of pesticides, and these toxins accumulate in their flesh and fat over the course of their lifetimes. When you eat factory-farmed meat, you then ingest these accumulated pesticides.
As for fresh produce, certain fruits and vegetables tend to be far more contaminated than others, simply because they’re more susceptible to various infestations and therefore sprayed more heavily. Some foods are also more “absorbent,” with thin, tender skins.
Such foods would be high on your list for buying organic. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces an annual shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce12 that you can download. It lists the produce with the highest and lowest levels of pesticide residue, which can help save you money if you can’t afford to buy everything organic.