Tips for Reducing Toxic Exposures in Daily Life

Here are the list of tips referred to in New Patient Video #7:

  • Dust – dust that collects in our homes contains more hazardous chemicals than you might think. Things the may have not been used for decades in an older home could still accumulate as dust today. From lead, to fire retardants, pesticides and other chemicals, the one thing that is always true is that everything is subject to gravity and there is no better dust collector than wall to wall carpeting. While it is an expensive proposition, the best option is the replace wall-to-wall carpeting with wood, cork, tile or non-vinyl linoleum. Failing that, vacuum frequently, paying particular attention to get into corners and moving furniture to get the dust bunnies. Plan on vaccuuming twice a week and replace the vacuum bag and filter every time to prevent spewing the dust back into the air.

  • Test your home for lead paint (in older homes) and radon gas (inexpensive test kits are available at home supply hardware stores).

  • Ditch the pesticides – prevent the pests or use natural non-toxic repellents (like cinnamon for ants, or just keeping food put away and counters clean for roaches).

  • Get over the herbicides – pull your weeds and try some extra strength vinegar when you really need/want to spray. Or even just get over the perfectionism and let nature do its thing.

  • Take care in the use of plastic bottles and canned foods – BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics used in some water bottles and baby bottles. In addtion, it is also used in epoxy resins that line metal products (e.g. cans containing canned foods).

    • Avoid plastic bottles with a “7” or a “PC” marking. Cloudy plastics like polyethelene or polypropylene or specifically labeled BPA-free are generally safe to use.

    • Don’t microwave plastic food containers as heat can break down plastic fibers

    • Don’t microwave plastic cling-wrapping.

    • Eat fewer canned foods

    • Use glass and ceramic containers to store or microwave foods

  • Filter your tap water – even bottled water has been found to have mixtures of 38 common contaminants at levels similar to that found in tap water, including bacteria, fertilizer, and industrial chemicals.

    • Tap water is regulated by the EPA and requires annual testing and reporting while bottled water is regulated by the FDA with no such testing and/or reporting requirements. Even with EPA regulation, tap water still comes through with contaminants, including lead, chlorine, e. Coli, pesticides, etc. A simple pitcher-style filter may be all you need for very drinkable water. Alternatively, a filter that attaches to a faucet or the plumbing system is also an option. Filtration can remove a lot of the pollutants in tap water.

  • Avoid Teflon cookware – non-stick Teflon coatings use perfluorinated chemicals which the EPA lists as carcinogenic. Instead of teflon, try cast iron, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, copper-coated, or enamel-coated iron cookware. Silicone baking molds are also safe to use instead of Teflon-coated bakeware. Until you have replaced them, don’t preheat non-stick pans on high and use the lowest temperature you can to cook your food.

    • Perfluorinated chemicals are also found in grease resistant packaging (like instant popcorn packs) and stain-protection treatments (e.g avoid a “ScotchGuard” treatment option for a new piece of furnishing).

Wash your hands – stop the process of passing around bacteria and viruses by washing your hands frequently and before eating. But avoid antibacterial soaps such as those including Triclosan, which has been shown to affect sex hormones and cause nervous system interference. As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mechanical action of thoroughly washing your hands with soap is extremely effective without the added chemicals which, incidentally, contribute to natural selection for development over time of super-germs which are resistant to those anti-bacterial constituents.

Use non-toxic cleaning products – Try to use “green” cleaners that don’t contain chlorine or ammonia. Look for cleaners that say “petroleum-free” or “phosphate-free”. A good homemade cleaner can be prepared with vinegar to replace bleach. Baking soda is great for scrubbing tiles. Hydrogren Peroxide is a good stain remover. For windows, try diluted lemon juice or vinegar. Borax is a good mold inhibitor and enhances soap and removes stains well. If you add a little sugar, borax even kills cockroaches.

  • Choose organic foods – organic foods reduce the ingestion of pesticides with your meals and helps to protect the environment. In addition, organic foods are found to be 25% more nutritious than non-organic. You can reduce the cost of eating organic by reducing consumption of animal products (which can cost 2 to 3 times more than non-organic), buying fruits and vegetables that are in-season from a local farmer’s market, and only buy non-organic fruits that are protected by a peel, such as bananas and non-zested citrus. Note that berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc) soak up more pesticides than other fruits and these should purchased as organic.