Oct 13, 2015
Top Toxins to Avoid Especially If Pregnant Infographic
Protect yourself and your unborn child by reading this infographic on environmental toxins and their sources that pregnant women should avoid.
Certainly, there’s no shortage of toxic chemicals to avoid. The infographic above highlights some of the most common and most dangerous ones, which includes lead, mercury, and fluoride. Implementing the following measures will help you avoid a number of different chemicals from a wide variety of sources. To sum it up, stick to whole foods and natural products around your home.
The fewer ingredients a product contains, the better, and try to make sure anything you put on or in your body – or use around your home – contains only substances you're familiar with. If you can't pronounce it, you probably don't want it anywhere near your family.
As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, or eat smaller fish or fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is about the only fish I eat for these reasons.
Buy products that come in glass bottles or jars, rather than plastic or canned, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents.
Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
Use glass baby bottles and avoid plastic sippy cups for your little ones.
Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a common source of chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.
Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
Filter your tap water — both for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine-disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.
Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly, green, non-toxic, and/or 100 percent organic. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, upholstery, and more.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove house dust, which is often contaminated with traces of chemicals.
When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses, or carpet padding, ask what type of fire retardant it contains. Be mindful of and/or avoid items containing PBDEs, antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid, and other brominated chemicals. As you replace these toxic items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, and cotton.
Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
Minimize your use of plastic baby and child toys, opting for those made of natural wood or fabric instead.
Only use natural cleaning products in your home or make your own. Avoid products that contain 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can damage fertility and cause fetal harm.
Switch over to organic brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. You can replace many different products with coconut oil and baking soda, for example.
Replace feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives.
Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds – even thousands – of potentially toxic chemicals.
Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.
Simplify Your Life and Reduce Your Toxic Burden
In 2004, a six-month study was done about personal care product use. More than 10,000 body care product ingredients were evaluated, involving 2,300 participants. One of the findings was that the average adult uses nine personal care products each day, containing 126 different chemicals. The study also found that more than 250,000 women, and one out of every 100 men, use an average of 15 products daily.
Does this sound like someone you know? It's important to remember that your skin is your largest, and most permeable organ. Just about anything you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream and distributed throughout your body. Once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. This is why I'm so fond of saying "don't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat if you had to."
If you insist on buying commercial products, you've got a little bit of work cut out for you in terms of researching the ingredients. Still, it can be done. I recommend using the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database7 to research the potential toxicity of ingredients. Products bearing the USDA 100% Organic seal are among your safest bets if you want to avoid potentially toxic ingredients. Beware that products boasting "all-natural" labels can still contain harmful chemicals, so be sure to check the full list of ingredients.
Another alternative—and perhaps both the safest and easiest one—is to make your own personal care and household cleaning products. Coconut oil, for example, is a multipurpose powerhouse that can be safely used on your body from head to toe. When absorbed into your skin, coconut oil helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep your connective tissues strong and supple. It also helps exfoliate the outer layer of dead skin cells, making your skin smoother. Coconut oil is also great for nurturing and conditioning your hair, and many rave about the oil's ability to prevent "the frizzies" in humid weather.
Baking soda is another inexpensive basic that can replace multiple products.8 You can use it in lieu of shampoo9, face and body scrub, and toothpaste, for example. It's also a natural odor neutralizer, so rubbing a pinch of it into your armpit may be all you need to replace your toxic antiperspirant.
As for household cleaning products, tried and true items such as liquid castile soap, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can get the job done just as well -- sometimes even better -- than their commercial counterparts. To learn more, please see my previous article on this topic. You can also search EWG's Healthy Cleaning Guide10 for safety ratings on more than 2,000 different cleaning products.