Research Report

household toxicsHousehold Toxics
Researched and Written by Brenda Templin

Children are at highest risk from the effects of toxics, and we have a research report dedicated to children and toxics, but others at high risk include the elderly, pregnant women, those with chronic disease in any organ, cancer patients and those with allergies, migraines and asthma. The remainder of the population is also at risk when exposed to chemicals on a daily basis in their homes.

Melaleuca Marketing Executives have found our publications on this topic to be excellent attention-getters for opening the eyes of others to the hazards of everyday household products. Once they are made aware of this problem, they are often open to hearing about safer, healthier alternatives like Melaleuca's.

Most of us assume that if products are sold in stores, they are safe; and that our government has laws to protect us against harmful products. But, unfortunately, most of the chemicals in ordinary products that we use or are exposed to every day have not been tested for safety. What's worse, for years the chemical industry has known the toxic effects of many chemicals used in products today, but never revealed their studies to the public or to the government.

Brenda Templin

Chemicals in the Home and in Us
Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report, a documentary by respected investigative reporter Bill Moyers, aired on PBS in March, 2001 exposing chemical industry cover ups. As part of this report, samples of Bill Moyers' blood and urine were analyzed by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Eighty-four distinct chemicals were found, revealing evidence of hazardous chemicals in common use as well as compounds banned for more than a quarter century and others so obscure that almost no public information is available to identify what products might have resulted in Moyers' exposure.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit environmental research organization, separates facts from fiction regarding chemical industry claims in Scientific Fact, Industry Fiction.

They also worked on a study called Body Burden: the Pollution in People. They found an average of 91 industrial compounds, pollutants, and other chemicals in the blood and urine of nine volunteers.

Go to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to identify and locate potentially hazardous products in your home, the chemicals they contain and the hazards associated with each product.

WebMd cites a study that finds Common Household Cleaners Can Trigger Asthma. Levels of indoor VOCs (volatile organic compounds) were significantly higher in the children with asthma. Three VOCs in particular stood out: benzene, which had the highest risk, followed by ethylbenzene and toluene.

Formaldehyde is an abstract by Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc. (BDRC). This link will lead you to a list of pdfs. Just click on "Formaldehyde" to download it. (BDRC is a non-profit organization that provides parents and expectant parents with information about birth defects and support services for their children. BDRC has a parent-matching program that links families who have children with similar birth defects. BDRC also sponsors the National Birth Defect Registry, a research project that studies associations between birth defects and exposures to radiation, medication, alcohol, smoking, chemicals, pesticides, lead, mercury, dioxin and other environmental toxins.)

Indoor Air Pollution
The American Lung Association recommends, among other things, you check for household chemicals when investigating possible causes for indoor air pollution in the article: How To Know If There Is A Problem.
The article Keep Pollution Out Of Your Home suggests using cleaning products that are less toxic.


Seniors are at High Risk
This article, Demented Seniors At Risk From Household Poisons, is about a report written by Dr's. James A. Walker and Gary P. Zaloga of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC and recently published in the journal Chest. Walker and Zaloga point out that elderly patients account for about 17% of all fatal cases of toxic ingestion, and the risk of dying from ingesting a toxin rises with age.
Central Nervous System Disorders
Julia Kendall*, Co-Chair, Citizens for a Toxic-Free Marin, compiled this list of principal chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets Chemicals found in fabric softeners by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kendall has included information found in Material Safety Data Sheets that detail the effects of each of the chemicals. (*Julia Kendall died July 12, 1997 from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Leukemia caused by pesticide poisoning.)

This is an abstract of tests conducted by Anderson Laboratories to determine whether fabric softener emissions can cause acute adverse effects. Respiratory toxicity of fabric softener emissions
(Anderson Laboratories is an independent testing lab that specializes in biological effects of polluted indoor air.)

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

The Ohio State University has a fact sheet overview of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. There are so many good pdf community development fact sheets at this site, the link will lead to the main list of them in case you want to browse the others. Use your browser's find feature (Ctrl + f) to find the pdf fact sheet on "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity." A one paragraph excerpt follows:

"In theory, MCS is an adverse physical reaction to low levels of many common chemicals. The National Institute of Health has defined MCS as a “chronic recurring disease caused by a person’s inability to tolerate an environmental chemical or class of foreign chemicals.” Many who suffer from MCS complain of severe sensitivity or allergic reactions to different pollutants such as solvents, smoke, diesel, and sometimes even pet fur and dander."

Rhonda Zwillinger's article No Safe Haven: People With Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Are Becoming the New Homeless, published in the September-October 1998 issue of E/The Environmental Magazine, is a photo essay of formerly healthy people who became victims of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and their personal stories of how drastically their lives changed. (Rhonda Zwillinger is an artist who in 1991, at the age of 41, developed a crippling case of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity that forced her to leave her son, her career and her home in New York City and move to Tucson, AZ in search of clean air. Her book, The Dispossessed: Living With Multiple Chemical Sensitivities , is a compilation of photos and personal stories of people who have relocated to the Southwest because of MCS. In 1997, her photo exhibit, The Dispossessed , was displayed at The Phoenix Gallery in New York City.)

Should Healthy Individuals be Concerned?
In the article Making Informed Decisions: why it is important to know what's in the products you use by Andrea DesJardins of Earth Angels Association/Health & Environment Resource Center (H&ERC), DesJardins points out that the body's most important detoxification organ, the liver, can lose as much as 70% of normal function before symptoms of liver disease surface. This means that there may be many individuals who are unaware that they may have malfunctioning detoxification systems. This is just one of the reasons we should all be selective in choosing safe products even if our overall health does not place us in a high-risk category. (H&ERC's primary mission is to inform the public on the relationship between environment and health through articles, newsgroups, publications, and interactive media.)
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