Eco-Tip: Ten Everyday Toxics to Avoid

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Have you seen USA Today’s brand new health magazine Fresh? The first issue includes a list of “Top 10 toxins and how to protect your family.” When a widely-read mainstream publication like USA Today tackles a topic like this, everyone in the environmental health movement is pleased.

If USA Today had asked me to write the article (obviously they didn’t and never would), I would have done it a little differently. “Top Ten Toxins” is a mind-boggling concept (and yes, for you dictionary lovers, toxins in the wrong word there, but let’s leave that aside for a moment). Going with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statistics, there are more than 84,000 chemicals manufactured or processed in the U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a Congressional hearing recently that it’s “rare” for EPA to have adequate health and safety information about a chemical.

Makes it hard to figure out which are the “ten worst”, doesn’t it?

Still, USA Today has put together a concise list of steps you can take to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals without taking a lot of time or money. Here’s a quick summary in case you’d rather not read the whole article:

1. Don’t mess with lead-containing paint.

2. Choose phthalate and PVC-free products.

3. Don’t smoke.

4. Don’t use insect sprays. Buy local and organic food.

5. Avoid eating high-mercury fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel).

6. Test your basement for radon.

7. Stay away from cheap jewelry.

8. Take special precautions with arsenic-treated wood. (CEH can test your deck or play structure for arsenic).

9. Use low-VOC paints, and make your own cleaning products.

10. Choose BPA-free products. Avoid canned food.

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