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Avoidance of Toxic & Unhealthy Exposures - Holistic Med

In a moderate number of cases, but certainly not all, disease is caused or contributed to by toxic exposures. These toxic exposures often involve low-level, long-term exposure that is not identified by the patient or healthcare practitioner. In such cases, the victim of the exposure is happily living his or her life not recognizing that slow poisoning and damage is occuring. Such damage often results in or contributes greatly to a number of chronic and debilitating diseases.

It has long been known that removal of exposure to toxic substances is an important part of holistic healing. A positive way to look at the gradual process of removing toxic and unhealthy things from your environment is that, at minimum, you will be significantly improving the long-term health prospects of yourself and your family! Beyond that, it is often found that removing exposures significantly improves health and eliminates symptoms and even some chronic diseases (that are often said to have "unknown causes").

There are practitioners and authors who care about others so deeply that they will never let financial interests become more important than the health of the people. A subset of these people are familiar with both the scientific literature and holistic healing. These people have dedicated their efforts to help people avoid becoming a victim of slow poisoning. They are really heros of the healthcare community. I strongly urge those who are interested in getting honest and up-to-date information to 1) print out, read, and share this article and 2) purchase some of the books listed in the in the Avoidance of Toxic Substances Section of the Holistic Healing Web Page / Amazon.Com Bookstore. In addition, there are several highly recommended web page resources which compliment this web page:

Some of these resources contain important information and resources not found in this article.

I will present a sampling of unhealthy substances below. The fact that these substances are toxic or unhealthy is largely common knowledge in the holistic healthcare community (at least amongst experienced practitioners). In most cases, this knowledge is backed up by independent scientific research. In other cases, persons experienced with holistic healing take the prudent approach and select non-toxic products (e.g., personal care products, cleaners, women's products, etc.) at their local Co-op or Natural Foods Grocery Store. Resources are presented at the end of this article to help you learn more about selecting non-toxic products so that you don't end up selecting toxic products marketed as "natural".

Finally, it is very important to recognize that while exposure to toxic substances can cause or significantly contribute to the development of chronic diseases, most people are better off taking a relaxed approach and gradually eliminating exposures (as opposed to generating extreme worry and stress). It may take a year or two to very gradually find less toxic substitutes for products you may be using at this time. The changes should not be done in a rushed fashion as that could generate alot of stress. It is also very important not to feel guilty about having let yourself be exposed to toxic substances; we have all done it at some point in our lives. Please keep in mind that other factors such as regular, adequate sleep, positive attitude, loving friends, healthy nutrition, play, etc. can be as important and often more important than eliminating toxic and unhealthy substances. A quote from the Holistic Healing Fundamentals web page for some perspective:

Finally, please remember that you are most likely pursuing holistic healing techniques in order to live a healthy and enjoyable life. Please spend the majority of your time enjoying life to the fullest extent possible while spending some time pursuing investigating holistic healing techniques. Don't wait until you're "healed" to enjoy life. Hazards are listed in various categories below. Some of the hazards are obvious from the names, e.g., "aspartame/neotame". However, the hazards from some of the items listed below are only clear when selecting the link for more information. For example, "Alcoholic Beverages" are not inherantly dangerous in moderate amounts, but what is a concern is that certain manufacturers put a significant amount dangerous additives into their alcoholic beverage products. Herbs are also listed below, but by clicking on the detailed link, you can see that is referred to is the danger when taken inappropriately.

Each hazard or potential hazard will be given a rating for the "Acute Reaction" hazard and the "Chronic Toxicity" hazard. "Acute Reactions" refer to reactions which occur shortly after exposure and include symptoms such as headaches, migraines, stomach problems, skin reactions, breathing difficulty, etc. "Chronic Toxicity" hazards refer to the potential for the substance to cause or contribute to chronic symptoms and chronic diseases (whether acute reactions are experienced or not).

These ratings are estimates that I made. Obviously, there is some variation between people such that some people are more susceptible to certain hazards. For example, one person may be susceptible to the chronic effects of regular chlorine (and THMs) exposure from water, while another person may have a greater susceptibility to over the counter medications even though the Chronic Toxicity rating is different.

All of the items on this list are important considerations, but if I put a high Chronic Toxicity rating it is very important to take these hazards seriously even though the internal damage or changes caused by exposure to such hazards may not become clinically evident for a number of years. For many of these items, there is a link to much more detailed, scientific and general information that is useful for the patient and healthcare practitioner.

Finally, please keep in mind that Chronic Toxicity refers to regular exposure. An occasional exposure to some hazards are not something to worry about. For example, the regular, day-long exposure to fluorescent lighting (school, work) can lead to a number of health problems including behavioral problems in children. Obviously, working ocassionally under fluorescent lighting is not something for most people to worry about. I may use an unhealthy household product an ocassion (and don't worry about it), but I try to stick to the non-toxic ones when they are avaible for purchase.

Food Solutions Persons who are truly knowledgable in holistic healing and natural healing techniques understand the importance of gradually (without worry & guilt) moving towards a Natural Foods nutrition plan. Avoiding toxic and unhealthy food substances are a basic fundamental for healing acute and chronic conditions in adults and children. Please see the Food & Nutrition article for detailed information.ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 73 Fluoride Compounds63 Chlorine & Chloramines53 Pesticide Runoff52 Heavy Metals (Lead, Arsenic, etc.)36 Microorganisms (bacteria, viruses)63 Chemicals Leaching From Pipes (e.g., vinyl chloride,trichloroethane, etc.)Water Solutions The very best solution for avoiding toxic chemicals from water (often hidden) is to drink and cook with "spring water". That is what experienced holistic medicine practitioners use. Make sure that the bottled water comes from a real spring as opposed to tap water (with a flowery name and pretty picture on the bottle). Bottled water for drinking and cooking is definately worth the price. If you can use the heavy plastic or even glass 5-gallon jugs, that is better than the flimsy 1-gallon plastic jugs which may leach a bit into the water if stored for a long time (especially in warm temperatures).

Filtered water is a distant second option. Only reverse osmosis or distillation filtration removes toxic fluoride compounds and certain other toxic hazards commonly found in tap water. If you do use a filter, your best bet is to use a combination reverse osmosis/carbon filter if the water is fluoridated. If it is not fluoridated, a carbon filter may be okay if a better filter or especially spring water is not available. Please keep in mind that if your municipality uses chloramines, reverse osmosis or carbon filters will not remove these compounds.

Since skin absorption and lung inhalation of certain toxic chemicals, chlorine, THMs, etc. from water is a significant issue (and, in fact, the level of THMs absorbed from showers is equivalent to THMs absorbed by drinking water), many persons familiar with holistic healing purchase a carbon shower filter. A good source for quality filters is N.E.E.D.S.. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for replacing old carbon filter cartridges.

Finally, it is impossible at this point in time to completely avoid occasional fluoride or chlorine (or other chemical) ingestion from tap water. Eating out at restaurants is one example of this. The important point is not to spend time worrying about the occasional exposure. If you gradually move (in a relaxed way) towards the regular use of spring water and a shower filter, you will be taking some positive steps for your long-term health prospects.

Dental Materials / Procedures Solutions It is important to educate yourself as to the toxicity of dental materials. One of the reason that most dentists are totally unfamiliar with the toxicity of the substances and procedures they use is that the dental trade organizations work closely with dental material manufacturers to downplay safety concerns. Please keep in mind that dentists are not independent toxicologists and often do not have a thorough knowledge of safety issues unless they belong to organizations such as the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology or the Preventive Dental Health Association.

There are three important steps you should take related to dental issues:

  • Holistic Techniques to Prevent & Help Heal Dental Disease

    It is very important to prevent dental health problems because they can significantly impact one's overall health. The work of Robert O. Nara of Oramedics is one of the best resources for preventing and healing dental and gum problems. I recommend the book discussed in that article. In addition, it is important to avoid toothpastes with unhealthy ingredients such as fluoride, artificial sweeteners (e.g., aspartame, neotame, saccharine, acesulfame-k, sucralose), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and other artificial ingredients. There are usually some toothpastes at your local health food store which fit this criteria. Weleda sells such a natural toothpaste. There are a number of good herbal mouthwashs on the market as well. The key is to avoid an unhealthy product that includes an herb or two so they can sell it as "natural". Finally, there have been discussions on an herbal mailing list regarding formulas that help remineralize teeth. One formula from Herbalist David Winston (Herbalists and Alchemists Company) includes a specially-processed form of 2 parts young horsetail, 1 part nettles, and 1 part alfalfa. Some information about the use of herbs for treating dental and gum problems can be found in a short article written by Christopher Hobbs.

  • Locate a Holistic Dentist Who Uses Non-Toxic Techniques

    It can be difficult to change to another dentist, but it is important to go with one who has experience with non-toxic techniques as opposed to one who is just starting to learn about them. Please look through all of the various directories of Holistic and Biological Dentists found at: A large number of resources and useful articles about dental health, including articles about mercury amalgams, root canals, cavitations, composite fillings, other metals, prevention techniques, etc. can be found on the Holistic Medicne Resource Center Dental Resources Web Page.

  • Fix Existing Dental Toxicity Issues for Current & Future Health Concerns

    This can be a slow process, but you can benefit from the many experienced people who have gone through the process. There are some conflicting opinions, even amongst Holistic Dentists. You can discuss these issues on the AMALGAM Mailing List. Even though it can be expensive, these toxicity issues are so serious in some cases that growing numbers of people are having their dental problems fixed properly. The direction most health-conscious dentists and patients seem to be moving is:

  • Properly remove all mercury & replace with other appropriate dental materials (often composite fillings) using the IAOMT protocol.
  • Clean up potentially serious health problems caused by root canals as discussed on the Root Canals and Cavitations web page.
  • Get diagnosistic procedure to check for cavitations using Cavitat device. If necessary, get cavitations cleaned out and repaired. Worldwide Cavitat Locations.
  • Most people are removing all metal (e.g., gold) and replacing it with other more suitable dental materials such as composite.
  • Use Oramedics techniques such as the waterpik with pick-pocket tip to help clear up gum disease.
  • Avoid fluoride treatments including fluoride that is designed to be released from certain types of dental materials (e.g., crowns).
  • There are two considerations: a) getting dental work fixed that is causing significant health problems, and b) getting dental work fixed to prevent future health problems. Some Holistic Medicine practitioners believe they can diagnose whether mercury amalgams, root canals, cavitations, metals, etc. is a major source of a particular person's health problems. But I believe that it is difficult to be certain. Even though many people have experienced benefit from fixing dental work, I always suggest that the work be done with the attitude that it is usually beneficial in the long-run and sometimes in the short-run.Medical Treatment Solutions Usually the best way to avoid problems with medical treatment is to work with an experienced Holistic Medicine Practitioner. By doing so, you may be able to wean yourself off of the many pharmaceuticals that can often contribute to acute and especially chronic health problems. Gradually replacing the use of pharmaceuticals to suppress symptoms (except where necessary) with natural healing techniques such as natural foods nutrition, yoga/relaxation, herbal medicines, acupunture, play, craniosacral treatments, reiki, and one or more of the many other possible techniques can quite often help you build excellent health and cure minor to serious health problems. (Please note that even with natural treatment techniques prescribed by an experienced Holistic Medicine practitioner, there are often some ups-and-downs experienced.)

    It is important to take herbs and supplements intelligently, not only to avoid adverse reactions, but to promote long-term health. The short Herbs & Supplements article provides resources for making intelligent choices.

    Surgery might be necesary in some cases for medical treatment. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are a number of conditions that can be cured without surgery and with the help of an experienced Holistic Medicine practitioner. Unless emergency surgery is immediately necessary, consultations with one or two experienced Holistic Medicine practitioners could provide workable alternatives that you may want to consider. Of course, it is very important to keep all of your healthcare practitioners aware of your treatment choices.

    ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 84 Cigarette Smoking / Second-Hand Smoke63 Natural Gas (leaking)35 Mold64 Work / School Chemical Hazards32 Gasoline33 Motor Vehicle Exhaust54 Copy Machine / Laser Printer Fumes22 Burning Newspapers/Treated WoodAir Hazards Solutions Some air hazards can be difficult to identify. But one obvious hazard is cigarette smoking. Quitting smoking does not have to be the very first removal of unhealthy exposure, but it is good to consider it an eventual goal. When you feel ready to quit smoking, you can work closely with your Holistic Healthcare practitioner (e.g., Oriental Medicine practitioner) and/or use the Ideas presented on the Smokefree Commercial Page. The main area of the Smokefree Professional Page contains tools for clearing up problems with second-hand smoke exposures at work, school, Professional, and restaurants.

    Since exposure to low levels of toxic chemicals at work can contribute significantly to chronic illness, it is important to learn about what chemical hazards might exist for you at work and then eliminate or protect yourself from those hazards. The goal should be to breath fresh, clean air most of the day. Some of the things at work which can create air hazards include carpeting, copy machines and laser printer toner fumes, office furniture (especially particle board ) and upholstered chairs which can outgass formaldehyde, adhesives (glue, cement, etc.), chemicals used in making a product, chemicals produced and given off into the air from the process of making a product, exhaust fumes, etc. It is important to learn about what chemicals you may be exposed to. For example, if you work in a photography lab or make pottery, or work as an undertaker, or in a lab making circuit boards, or .... you may be exposing yourself to significant levels of toxic chemicals and are not aware of it.

    "Sick schools" -- schools where students are exposed to hazardous or unehealthy air are becoming more common. In fact, several Massachusetts schools have recently closed because of asbestos hazards (information that was kept from parents, by the way). Asbestos is definately not the only hazard at schools. To learn more about air hazards at schools, please see the proceedings from the 1996 Allergy and Environmental Health Association of Canada (AEHA) Conference. Some school districts in the U.S. will be getting grants from the Federal government for building new schools, but they may end up building more "sick schools" unless they are closely supervised by Environmental Medicine specialists.

    Indoor air pollution in homes is common. This can happen from building materials, carpeting, and furniture outgassing chemicals, poor ventilation, cleaning products, pesticides, biological pollutants (e.g., mold, bacteria), radon, smoking, and a numer of other situations. One of the best resources for building a healthy Home or fixing current (and sometimes undetected) air quality problems in a Commercial is the Healthy House Institute.

    Sometimes working with the medical office or the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) office in your place of work or school can help identify potential hazards. Keep in mind that IAQ and medical offices may rely on government standards for hazardous chemicals. Such standards are often useless because industry lobbying changes the levels said to be "safe". But these offices can at least help you identify chemicals you (or your children in schools) are being exposed to.

    Cleaning up air hazards can involve:

  • Removing oneself from exposure (to the extent possible).
  • Making sure there is good ventilation.
  • Here are a couple of relevent excerpts from Debra Lynn Dadd's excellent book, "The Nontoxic Commercial & Office" (which is unfortunately out of print at the moment): The problems with ventilation systems can be the result of several factors, such as poor design, installation, operation, or maintenance of the ventilation systems. Often some kind of contamination within the system itself is the culprit -- mold growth inside ducts, auto exhaust contamination from 'fresh air' intakes being placed in parking garages, fecal bacteria contamination from birds nesting near equipment, and bits of asbestos fibers and fiberglass...

    If you suspect there is a problem with the ventilation system in your building, the first thing to do is check to see if your building even has a ventilation system. .... Take a walk around and look for vents and ducts, linear diffusers (long, narrow registers found between ceiling tiles or where walls and ceilings join), and troffers (air vents in lighting fixtures).

    Next, find out how frequently the system is on. In some cases, the circulation in a building stops with the close of business, yet pollutants from building materials and furnishings are generated 24 hours a day. Consider whether cleaning and large printing jobs done at night are producing pollutants that remain in the stagnant air.

    See if each room has an incoming supply vent and an outgoing exhaust vent and make sure that the vents are not blocked by bookcases, desks, office machinery...."

    You might want to speak with the building manager to find out the number of air exchanges per hour and have the system checked to make sure everything is running as it should. More often than not, sick building syndrome is cured by simply increasing the ventilation. .... In a similar study, Helathy Buildings International, an indoor air quality consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia, found that the three most common problems are:

  • Poor Ventilation -- 62 percent of the buildings had inadequate fresh air, and 33 percent were operating with no fresh air at all.
  • Inadequate filtration -- 61 percent had inefficient filters, 43 percent had inferior grade filters, and 18 percent poorly installed filters.
  • Hygiene problems -- 50 percent of the ventilation systems were dirty, 36 percent had dirty air-conditioning units, 22 percent had contaminated ductwork.
  • Please note that ventilation is important in homes as well. Open windows (with screens if necessary) can provide alot of healthy, fresh air in seasons when the air outside is not too cold or too polluted. Also, please keep in mind that dirty air conditioning units, and bad filters can also cause significant air quality problems in homes. More information on avoiding polluted air in homes can be found on the Chatelaine web page.

    Finally, most employers understand that the increased medical and other costs (lack of productive work, high insurance premiums, loss of employees, unhappy workers, etc.) are much more expensive than fixing a ventilation systems to make sure employees remain healthy and productive.

  • Purchasing an air filtration device (air filter, hood).
  • When it is difficult to clean up the air at work, I suggest that you consider purchasing a quality air personal filter. N.E.E.D.S. sells quality personal air filters. Other companies sell quality air filters as well. Obviously, it is important to change the filters within the air filter as recommended by the manufacturer. If you are working in a chemistry lab or around highly toxic chemicals, your employee should see to it that you are protected with a special "hood" to suck chemicals out of the air before they reach you, or some similar protection device.ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 54 Dissatified With Work/Goals43 Pessimists & Fatalists (Regular Exposure)55 Emotionally Chaotic Situations55 Isolation (Frequent)Psychological Issue Solutions Psychological issues are often overlooked outside of the holisitc healing community. However, issues such as those mentioned above can have a significant effect on both pychological and physical health. Because of this, many people experienced with holistic healing have found that addressing psychological issues are sometimes a key part of healing a physical illness.

    The psychological issues listed above are a few of the issues that should to be addressed at some point in time. One way not to address these issues is to beat yourself up or feel guilty about having let yourself get into one of the above-mentioned situations. These types of situations to happen to everybody. A good way to handle it is to give yourself credit for recognizing these situations when they do occur and endeavoring to address them when you are able.

    For example, you can choose to avoid regular contact with people or healthcare practitioners who are too pessimistic about your health prospects, your dreams, your ideas, etc. Or, you can choose to bring up the issue with these people when it is appropriate and ask them to help you by being more positive. You may choose to address emotionally chaotic situations by removing yourself from the chaos or endeavoring to make changes that will add stability to the situation. To deal with isolation, you can join clubs, take classes, or do other things that interest you. You can ask friends to visit you. You can make phone calls. Getting some hugs and caring from others can be especially helpful. If you have a job or other situation that is not enjoyable and keeps you from your dreams, you can look at a few of my ideas related to this issue.

    A positive alternative to simply avoiding chaotic and other emotionally unhealthy situations is to put yourself in situations where you have fun! Playing, joking, laughing, etc. are all very healing and you have the added bonus of enjoying yourself while getting healthier!

    Clearly, these short few paragraphs cannot provide all of the solutions to these situations. Should you need help in addressing these issues or have further questions, look through the excellent web resources related to handling psychological issues and finding practitioners.

    ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 44 Household Cleaners & Disinfectants (oven,bathroom, kitchen, laundry, furniture)54 Insecticides, Pesticides44 Deodorizers33 Furniture and Metal Treatment ProductsHousehold Products Solutions There is little reason to use unsafe chemicals for cleaners, deodorizers, pest control, etc. when there are so many nontoxic alternatives that cost the same or only slight more. It can be especially helpful to avoid unhealthy laundry soaps (where traces of the chemicals can be absorbed through the skin when wearing the clothes) and toxic pest control sprays or deodorizers (where toxic chemicals can be inhaled). It is important not to obsess about only using "pure" products without exception, but at the same time, it can be very helpful to gradually replace unhealthy products with healthy ones.

    Many nontoxic household products can be found in your local health food store. In addition, there are a number of mailorder sources such as N.E.E.D.S. and extensive resources listed in excellent books such as Clean & Green by Annie Berthold-Bond. There are also books that contain important solutions for common household product issues such as The Nontoxic Baby by Natural Choices, Dan's Practical Guide to Least Toxic Home Pest Control by Dan Stein, and Professional Safe Home: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Toxics and Harmful Household Products in the Commercial by Debra Lynn Dadd.

    ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 53 Toothpaste / Mouthwash32 Soap & Shampoo33 Makeup43 Hair Coloring & Spray54 Perfume, Cologne, Aftershave22 Shaving Cream33 Skin CreamsPersonal Care / Enhancement Products Solutions Many people do not realize that toxic chemicals from personal care products are easily absorbed through the skin and can begin to gradually weaken health over the years contributing to a serious chronic disease. Taking the time to gradually move to non-toxic personal care products can be an important step on the road to good health. In Nontoxic, Natural, & Earthwise, Debra Lynn Dadd presents a comprehensive look at natural alternatives to Personal Care Products and provides a comprehensive list of company resources. I highly recommend this resource.

    Perfume is one of the more important items to find alternatives for. One of the best solutions is not to use any. This is a common solution for people experienced with holistic healing because they know it is not essential. As far as attracting the opposite sex, recent research has shown that perfume and cologne is not particularly appealing. Finally, keep in mind that persons wearing large amounts of perfume or cologne are not only weakening their own health, but causing others to inhale toxic chemicals. One common solution for those who want scents is to use esstential oils from your natural foods store or from quality online resources. Avoid oils labeled "extracts", "tinctures", or "extended" oils.

    Hair coloring and sprays are also quite unhealthy as the chemicals from these products get absorbed through the skin in the head. Fortunately, there are non-toxic solutions for this as well. See Debra Lynn Dadd's book mentioned above for these natural alternatives to chemical hair colorings and sprays.

    Health food stores have natural soaps and shampoos. Using medicated soaps and shampoos may temporarily suppress a problem, but won't bring health. Skin creams, lip balms, and many other personal care products can be purchased at health food stores.

    As mentioned in another section above, it is important to avoid toothpastes with unhealthy ingredients such as fluoride, artificial sweeteners (e.g., aspartame, neotame, saccharine, acesulfame-k, sucralose), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and other artificial ingredients. There are usually some toothpastes at your local health food store which fit this criteria. Weleda sells such a natural toothpaste. There are a number of good herbal mouthwashs on the market as well. The key is to avoid an unhealthy product that includes an herb or two so they can sell it as "natural".

    ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 43 Artificial Fabrics (Polyester, Rayon, etc.)43 Chemically-Treated Clothing / Pajamas13 Wool ProductsClothing Solutions Since the skin is one of the biggest elimination organs (for waste products) and since the skin can absorb chemicals, it can be helpful to very gradually take steps to move towards the use of natural, non-chemically-treated fibers such as cotton, wool, linen, and hemp. These fibers allow the skin to "breath" and are simply the healthier choice over the long run.

    In some cases, wool can cause an allergic reaction and would need to be avoided while there is still an allergy. If you can find organic cotton products, that is better because cotton is otherwise so heavily treated with pesticides. Please check the companies section of this file for continuously updated links to sources for organic cotton, wool, hemp, and other natural fiber clothing products.

    Carpeting & Furniture Solutions Carpeting is a very common source of toxic exposure. Outgassing (often not detected by the sense of smell) from new and even moderately old carpeting (less than 5 years old) can sometimes cause gradual neurological and immunological effects as detailed by research and the large number of case histories discussed in the carpeting article linked to above. In addition, dust mites, tracked-in lead (in dirt) and other hazards make avoiding carpeting a good choice in most situations. Carpeting is a significant long-term hazard for some children as offgassing of toxic chemicals, dust mites, lead, and other hazardous exposures can occur as children play on carpeting. Keep in mind that children can have excessive carpeting exposure at schools or daycare centers. An excellent independent discussion of carpet's adverse effects on children can be found in Dr. Doris Rapp's popular book, Is This Your Child's World?

    One solution which is very common amongst persons with chronic immune system disorders, allergies, chemical sensitivities, and many in the holistic healthcare community is to avoid carpeting altogether and put in non-toxic flooring (sometimes with a small rug or two if desired). This may mean tearing out carpeting or simply never putting it in. A very good discussion of non-toxic flooring alternatives can be found in The Healthy Professional: An Attic-To_Basement Guide to Toxin-free Living by Linda Mason Hunter.

    Should you choose to purchase carpeting, you should avoid the carpeting at carpet stores with special "green" labels or other inaccurate marketing information. Any discussion of the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) without a specific listing of all of the chemicals used is a sign of marketing hype. There are a number of companies that sell non-toxic carpeting. While this carpeting may be a little more expensive them chemically-treated carpeting, it is definately worth it for your family's health. A listing of many of these companies can be found in the 5-Part Carpeting Series on the Holistic Healing Web Page. If you do get natural carpeting, talk to the manufacturer to make sure that the backing doesn't contain stain repellents, fungicides and other toxic chemicals.

    Drapes and upholstery are often treated with and give off formaldehyde. If possible, try to purchase untreated, natural fibers such as linen, cotton, and wool.

    Try to avoid furniture made with particle board which is often treated with and gives off formaldehyde. In addition, some matresses are treated with formaldehyde. It can be helpful to set up the environments where the majority of time is spent to be reasonably healthy. Therefore gradually aquiring non-toxic furniture for the bedroom and for work or school should be a priority. The bedroom is probably the best place to start. There are many sources for low-toxicity furniture. One excellent source for some pieces is the Furnature company. More sources will be added to the companies section of this file as time permits.

    ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 53 Urea Foam Insulation63 Asbestos53 Fiberglass Insulation (leaking into air)22 Flooring Materials43 Formaldehyde-based AdhesivesBuilding Material Hazard Solutions Certain types of insulation, adhesives, flooring, and other building materials can present a health hazard in some instances. The book, The Healthy Commercial: An Attic-To_Basement Guide to Toxin-free Living by Linda Mason Hunter has an excellent section on safe building materials. These resources are especially helpful if you are building or remodeling your house.Outdoor Product Hazard Solutions Two separate categories of outdoor hazards may need to be examined:
  • Avoid the use of toxic outdoor products by your family.
  • One common toxic product that has caused acute damage to the health of some people and can be expected to contribute to chronic health problems over time is the use of DEET-containing insect repellants. One writer recently wrote: "Despite the manufacturer-led downplay of DEET risks, it does seem logical to assume that if DEET can peel paint, melt nylon, destroy plastic, wreck wood finishes and damage fishing line, then it must be hell on the skin -- perhaps worse." A significant amount of DEET and other chemicals from these insect repellents get absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. Fortunately, there are now a number of fairly effective natural alternatives which can be purchased at many local healthfood stores and through the mail. One excellent product is Buzz Away. Another product which I have used (sometimes in conjunction with Buzz Away) and found very effective is Farmer's Friend Lemongrass Insect Lotion from Burt's Bees.

    It should be obvious to avoid the use of toxic lawn and garden care products like Roundup. The long-term health of you and your family should come before the goal of having a "perfect" lawn or garden. In the real world, weeds and other "imperfections" are a normal part of nature.

    There are excellent books which detail techniques for natural lawn care. Seattle has its own Natural Lawn Care Program with some online resources. The Invisible Gardener web page provides quality information about natural alternatives to toxic chemicals for lawn & garden care, pest control, etc. A short summary about organic lawn care can be found on the Organic Lawn Care Guide web page. Finally, it is prudent to keep children and animals away from areas that have recently been treated with chemical lawn and garden products.

  • Avoid significant exposure to neiborhood spraying/chemical use and environmental pollution contaminants.
  • In order to protect the health of you and your family, it is wise to gradually, in a relaxed manner, gather information about potential sources of pollution in your neighborhood.
  • Find out if your neighbors are using chemical lawn and garden products and when they are being used. You may be able to loan them some books or web information in order to convince them to go with natural, organic lawn and garden care methods for the benefit of their family and the neighborhood. At the very least, you will want to avoid exposures to any chemical sprays they may be using and keep your children and animals from areas that have recently been treated/contaminated.
  • Find out from your city or county government offices if there is any spraying of dangerous pesticides or herbicides near your Commercial or children's school. Also contact any farms, orchids, or logging facilities near your Professional to find out if and when they spray chemicals. It can be helpful to keep the windows closed and keep the kids out of harm's way when there is spraying nearby. You and your neighbors may be able to convince the groups spraying to use organic methods, or at the very least, convince them to spray on days when the wind will not carry it over you homes.
  • Find out if you Commercial or children's school is located near a chemical waste dump (e.g., Superfund site), hazardous waste incinerator, or chemical plant. In some cases, such sites can have a significant adverse health effect. You may need to contact local or regional organizations to get more information about your neighborhood. A good place to start is the Toxic Alert Community Organizations web page. The web resources on the Environmental Issues Internet Resources web page can help as well.
  • ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 54 Fluorescent Lights32 Digital Clocks32 Computer Equipment52 Electric Blanket53 High-Voltage Power Lines22 Microwave OvensElectrical Appliance & Lighting Solutions It can be helpful to get regular exposure to natural sunlight every day. It helps produce Vitamin D, it normalizes levels of an important hormone, and it can helps prevent and heal some chronic diseases. Direct sunlight may be too strong for some people in which case sitting or walking or playing in the shade is fine -- as long as sunglasses aren't worn.

    Avoiding regular, extended exposure to fluorescent lights is also a good idea. Examples of excessive exposure would be working or going to school more than a few hours daily under fluorescent lighting. Two solutions are to use regular incandescent lighting or replace the fluorescent bulbs with safer, more balanced fluorescent bulbs from Ott Biolight Systems or other natural lighting companies.

    Low levels of electrical and magnetic fields can affect the permeability of the barrier surrounding the brain -- the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB). This can significantly effect chemical uptake into the brain, with a predictable effect on the health of some individuals. With this in mind, many in the holistic healthcare community feel it is important to take steps to reduce electromagnetic radiation exposure to minimal levels. A book which details the effects of electromagnetic radiation and the practical steps that can be taken in homes and offices is Warning: The Electricity Around You May Be Hazardous to Your Health by Ellen Sugarman.

    It is important to keep plugged-in electrical equipment away from the bed if possible. For example, digital alarm clocks can give off a significant amount of magnetic radition and should be kept at least 10 feet from the bed. I would avoid sleeping with an electric blanket or electrically-heated waterbed (although these items can be used to heat the bed and then unplugged before sleep). Move other electrical equipment aware from bed.

    Some old computer monitors have extremely high levels of magnetic and electrical radiation. (e.g., very old Apple RGB monitors). Most of the computer monitors made within the past few years are much better. Still, some newer color monitors have high electrical fields which can be hard on the eyes and contribute to adverse symptoms in some people. Safe Technologies Corporation sells ultra-low radiation color monitors that are very popular. (I've had mine for over 5 years.) If you have a choice in monitors, these monitors are excellent solutions when considering one's long-term health prospects. Other popular products for reducing electromagnetic fields are sold by Norad Corporation.

    If your Professional is very close to high power lines or a microwave or radio tower, it may be significantly effecting the health of your family. One solution is to move. It may be worth the temporary hardship, in order to protect your health and that of your family.

    Some people use Clarus Products such as Q-link, ClearWave, etc. to protect themselves from the effects of electromagnetic radiation from electrical appliances and power lines. I don't know if they help, but some people think so.

    Pregnancy & Birth Issue Solutions Links to several high-quality pregnancy and birth health web pages can be found on the Pregnancy, Birth & Infant Care Internet Resources. Another very good site of resources and links is the Wholistic Childbirth Resource Center Web Page. Use this resources to make decisions beforehand about the pregnancy, birthing process, and post-birth period.

    An excellent article on various chemical pregnancy hazards is entitled, Learning Disabilities Attention Deficit Disorder - A.D.D. and Hyperactivity on the Chem-tox.Com web page. Other pregnency hazards include physical trauma which may contribute to future health disorders including increased risk of suicide in men. However, it is ideal to take a relaxed approach to eliminating hazards during pregnancy. That means to avoid putting yourself through "guilt trips" about inadvertant exposures. Fortunately, most of the hazards are obvious and relatively easy to avoid.

    Smoking, use of hard drugs such as cocaine, and excessive alcohol consumption are well known pregnancy hazards. One simply should avoid these hazards to the extent possible during pregnancy.

    Common food substances that should be avoided include artificial sweeteners, MSG (including hydrolyzed proteins, autolyzed yeast, yeast extract), fake foods such as olestra/olean, foods with alot of additives or preservatives, and non-organic dairy foods. To the extent possible, shop for organic foods even if it costs a little bit more. Fluoridated water and fluoridated toothpaste should definately be avoided since low-level fluoride exposure has been shown to increase perinatal deaths and hyperactivity in young animals. It is best to stick with spring water for cooking and drinking.

    Avoid getting work on mercury amalgam fillings or placement of composite fillings (or sealants) while pregnant. If a filling must be placed, use the composite filling, not the mercury filling. If work on a mercury filling must be done, it is crucial to use the IAOMT protocol to prevent significant exposure to mercury.

    I suggest keeping the use of ultrasound to a minimum. Recent research has found that the possibility that excessive use of ultrasound may adversly affect fetal development.

    I would suggest keeping the use of pharmaceuticals to a minimum (or none if possible) during pregnancy. By working with an experienced Holistic Medical Doctor, it will be easier to decide on which pharmaceuticals, if any, are necessary. Please do not use these or any other ideas in this article to cause excessive worry about things you may need. Simply eliminate the use of pharmaceuticals you absolutely do not need and do not worry about the rest. Herbs are often used during pregnancy, but it is important to choose herbs wisely. A good book on this subject is Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year (Wise Woman Herbal Series : No. 1) by Susan Weed.

    Cesarians and anesthetics (and birth-inducing drugs) should only be used when absolutely necessary. You may need to be very clear with your midwife or healthcare practitioner about your desires along these lines. You may want to avoid epistiotomies as described in the related link in the table above.

    The birth position is very important to avoid "squashing" the infant brain as it comes through the birth canal. Proper birth positions are often ignored by physicians and even some midwives, so it is important that you decide on what position you want to use in advance. (It is interesting to note that there are holistic healing techniques taught by some practitioners to help infants overcome the effects of the birth trauma from improper birth positions.) The article Pregnancy, Labor, and Motherhood discusses proper birth positions.

    ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 32 Computer Printer Noise43 Workplace Noise43 Loud Music32 TrafficNoise Pollution Solutions Workplace noise is probably the most common problem when it comes to noise pollution. Solutions for handling workplace noise can be found in the brief article (and links to others articles) in the Workplace Noise section of the Holistic Healing Web Page. In addition, useful devices for reducing noise levels and preventing the adverse effects of noise can be found in the companies resource listing.

    Another area that can be is in cases where excess noise prevents a sound sleep. Solutions depend on the exact problem, but may include putting in double-pane windows, talking to neighbors, wearing earplugs if necessary, doing what you can to help an infant be more comfortable in order prevent excessive crying, etc.

    ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 43 High Heels42 Bras / Breast Cancer43 Tight Clothes43 Poor ErgonomicsPosture Issue Solutions It can be important to recognize and adjust postural problems that can contribute to the development of chronic illness and help perpetuate those illnesses. For example, shoes that throw the spine out of alignment (e.g., high heels) may be fine on ocassion, but could be a significant, often unrecognized problem if used regularly. Allowing for full, relaxed breathing is also very important. Regularly wearing excessively tight clothes which prevents deep breathing should be avoided. Poor posture when sitting at a desk such as slouching forward and down can prevent full movement of the diaphram. The suggestions presented on the Ergonimics Web Page can help you adjust your workplace desk environment to help prevent various health problems. Finally, lifting could present a hazard in some cases. In such cases, getting in the habit of using the legs to lift by bending at the knees and moving in next to the object (instead of using the back) is very important to prevent chronic or acute back strain/injury. Postural aspects of the working environment (e.g., ergnomics) are becoming a very important issue for employers because inattention to this area contributes to worker illness. Contact the Personnel Department in your place of employment for information about worker ergonomics.ChronicToxicity AcuteReactions Common Hazards 107 Hard Drugs (e.g., Cocaine)Miscellaneous Hazard Solutions The simple solution, if you are not addicted, is to stop using them . After stopping, I would strongly suggest developing a spiritual connection. Some resources are presented on the Spiritual Development & Healing Internet Resources web page. If you are addicted, as many people are, it can be enormously helpful to join an anonymous support group such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA). In the "Local Contact Information" section of the Narcotics Anonymous web page, there are listings of contacts for NA groups around the world. Another good resource on the web is the NA Basic Professional Page.Resources

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