Talking to Patients About Reducing Home Toxin Exposure
It can be difficult talking to patients about the amount of toxins in their home because the subject can overwhelm them. Instead of becoming empowered to reduce exposure, they become stymied and do nothing. This can be problematic given the amount of toxins that can be found in the home.
A key factor in any ongoing detoxification program is reducing exposure to as many toxins as possible. Looking at products used in the home is a great place to start. Two areas that are fairly easy to tackle are the laundry room and cleaning products.
It is now widely known that common household products contain chemicals that can disrupt endocrine function and increase risk of some cancers and other chronic conditions. In fact, some of the ingredients used in common household products are known or suspected carcinogens.
The laundry room contains the following problematic products:
- Bleach: contains organochlorines and chloroform, which is a suspected cancer-causing chemical. Alternative: use ½ cup white vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda.
- Fabric Softener: contains quarternary ammonium compounds, which are antimicrobial so they can help create antibiotic-resistant bacteria; also contains the suspected cancer-causing chemicals benzyl acetate and chloroform, both of which can also cause lung issues. Alternative: mix a tablespoon of vinegar with a few drops of an essential oil like tea tree with water and add a ½ cup of that mixture to the rinse cycle.
- Laundry Detergent: contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), many of which are suspected cancer-causing chemicals. Alternative: recommend all-natural laundry detergent products.
Household cleaners also contain toxic chemicals. Similar to laundry products, some of the ingredients in household cleaners can cause endocrine disruption which can lead to a wide variety of health issues, as well as a potential increased risk of cancer.
The best way to reduce exposure is by using all-natural household cleaning products. You can also suggest two simple DIY solutions to your patients:
- All-purpose cleaner: vinegar, water and drops of some essential oils make the perfect, all-natural cleaner that can be used on kitchen counters, windows and floors. Lemon essential oils work well in an all-purpose cleaner.
- Bathroom cleaner: vinegar, water and essential oils also work great in the bathroom. To clean the toilet bowl, mix ¼ cup baking soda with 1 cup vinegar and pour it into the bowl for a few minutes and then scrub and flush.
Of course, if your patient doesn’t seem motivated to make their own essential oil mixture, there are many high quality all-natural, all-purpose and bathroom cleaners available to recommend.
Giving patients advice about reducing exposure to toxins in their home is worth it. A patient’s home can be a treasure trove of these toxins. By reducing the amount of toxins found in the home, we are also reducing the unwanted and unhealthy burden these chemicals can have on the detoxification system.
Dodson RE, Nishioka M, Standley LJ, Perovich LJ, et al. Endocrine disruptors and asthma-associated chemicals in consumer products. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120(7):935-943.
Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/findings.
Kumar A, Singh BP, Punia M, et al. Determination of volatile organic compounds and associated health risk assessment in residential homes and hostels within an academic institute, New Delhi. Indoor Air. 2014;Oct24(5):474-83.