by Lorrie Montgomery
|Between five to ten million household poisonings are reported
every year – many are fatal, and most of the victims
When I was five years old, my brother and I went to the hospital to have our tonsils removed. In the early ’60s it was pretty routine to take out the tonsils of young children who had recurring infections. With promises of all the ice cream we could eat, our parents checked us in and left. As this was a common procedure, many of us were left there that night so we could be operated on first thing in the morning. I recall two little girls who stayed in their beds and didn’t play with the rest of us. They looked very sick and I remember feeling afraid around them.
The next day after much chaos and trauma, my brother and I woke up about the same time with pain in our throats, feeling very sick. We were back in the Children’s ward with the other children, some of whom also had surgery. Some of the kids were crying and some were throwing up from the anesthesia. Soon the nurses came in with ice cream for everyone. One of the little girls that didn’t play took a bite of her ice cream. I’ll never forget what followed: the little girl made a strange, strangling sound. She made more wild whisper screams and started spitting up blood. The rest of us were terrified and huddled in our beds watching the nurses try to help the little girl. The other little girl that was too sick to play never moved; she was too sick to be scared by what was happening. Soon the little girl who tried to eat settled down and went to sleep. I never saw that little girl try to eat again.
When I went home, my mother explained to me what was wrong with the little girls I saw in the hospital. The little girls were sisters. They were playing together one day and opened the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink. They found a can of Drano and opened it, discovering the pretty crystals inside. The little girls each took a spoon and ate some of the Drano. My mother said they were very lucky they didn’t die. She said they would never be able to eat or speak and would never live normal lives. “That’s why you are never to go under the sink!”
This story is not an isolated incident. According to Debra Lynn Dadd, author of “The Nontoxic Home and Office,” five to ten million household poisonings are reported every year. Many of these poisonings are fatal, and most of the victims are children. Poisoning doesn’t only happen by ingesting toxic products. Any chemical that touches the skin or is inhaled can be absorbed into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.
Long-term exposure to chemicals in the home has been linked to many health issues, including respiratory problems, cancer, birth defects, developmental disorders, behavioral disorders and more. In “Poisoning Our Children,” author Nancy Sokol Green writes that women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who work outside of the home. This figure came from a fifteen-year study, which concluded that the increased death rate was due to daily exposure to ordinary household products. Some experts report that 30% of all cancers are from exposure to toxic chemicals.
The use of toxic products also poses a threat to us in the form of pollution. Empty containers are filling our landfills with poison. Everything we do affects our water, air, and soil. It has been estimated that it takes at least one hundred years for plastic to breakdown, though it could take longer.
Buying childproof locks or storing your chemicals in hard to reach places isn’t really a solution to safeguarding for toxicity. Dangerous cleaning products release toxic vapors when they are used and even when they are stored. The next time you are in the grocery store, notice how strong the odors are in the household cleaning aisle. This is an example of outgassing. Many of our homes are as energy efficient as possible; unfortunately, this also keeps any toxins in our indoor air tightly sealed inside, with us.
So what can we do to protect our families and our environment? First, eliminate the poisons in your home. Choose only products made from natural, safe sources. One of the easiest ways to make a positive impact on our planet and our lives is to use environmentally safe, nontoxic cleaning products. Make sure the products you choose use only renewable, biodegradable ingredients, and are free of artificial dyes and fragrances. Not only does this mean a faster breakdown time, but most of these products are non-allergenic. Use concentrated products that you mix yourself — you will then be throwing away fewer plastic bottles. And, yes, you can even save money purchasing natural products!
Please remember: all of the water on our Earth is the same water that has always been here. Our water is never replaced. We must all do our best to keep our water and air clean. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!
Health Risks Associated With Some Toxic Cleaners:
From “Is Your Home A Healthy Home?” By John K. Beaulieu (R. M. Barry Publications, 1997)
|Air Freshener —||May cause cancer; irritates nose, throat and lungs.|
|Disinfectant —||May cause burning on skin, throat and lungs; may cause coma.|
|Drain Cleaner —||May cause skin burns, liver and kidney damage.|
|Oven Cleaner —||May cause skin, throat and lung burns.|
|Window Cleaner —||May cause Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders, liver and kidney disorders.|
|Floor/Furniture Polish —||May cause CNS disorders and lung cancer.|
|Toilet Bowl Cleaner —||May cause skin, nose, throat and lung burns.|
|Dishwasher Liquid —||Harmful if swallowed; irritates the skin.|
|Bleach —||May cause CNS disorders.|
|Stain Remover —||May cause cancer; vapors can be fatal.|
Want to learn more ? Check out the following books:
The Nontoxic Home & Office by Debra Lynn Dadd (Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1992)
Poisoning Our Children by Nancy Sokol Green (The Noble Press, 1991)