Most commercial cleaning products, cosmetics and scented items (including perfumes) are sickening. They poison people daily.

These toxins are on floors, walls, countertops, beds, furniture, towels and clothing, and are applied directly to the skin. What happens in your body when they enter your bloodstream? Do they accumulate or combine together to become more potent? Do they cause rashes, allergies, respiratory problems, headaches, liver, kidney or brain damage while assisting mutant cells in their quest to multiply? In many cases, yes, they do. This is why we must think for ourselves when it comes to using these products.

The other day, I saw a television commercial in which an attractive woman sprayed an “air freshener” around her living room and on her sofa. Later, I saw another ad for a so-called air freshener that releases a mist when someone walks by. Since scented items are heavily advertised by beautiful people on television and in print, their use seems perfectly normal. But it is far from desirable.

A well-scented, squeaky-clean home and body is lovely. But to obtain both from harsh chemicals is damaging to humans and animals, not to mention expensive. The majority of products cause toxic indoor air quality that is worse than outdoor air pollution. Commercial air fresheners themselves contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), many of which have been proven to cause cancer. You might as well spray acetone, isobutene, propane, petroleum distillates, toluene, tar, lead, arsenic, radon and even ozone into your breathing space.

Many years ago, after a cancer diagnosis, I took a day and did a massive review of products in my house. I threw out trash cans full of toxic junk, much of it expensive department store cosmetics and perfumes, along with plenty of cleaning supplies. I also tossed scented candles and all those lovely smell-good bath and body products.

I began to search for organic, toxin-free replacements. There were virtually none in large department stores, boutiques, drug or grocery stores, which themselves smell of a harsh mix of chemicals from the goods they sell.

I learned to live with very few products. Shopping is simple now. I’ve saved thousands of dollars and have taken a toxic load off my body. My number one household cleaning product? A large, inexpensive bottle of white vinegar, which I mix with water and use for general cleaning.

As for air fresheners, if you can’t simply open windows and let fresh air inside, then use an air purifier. If you want a great scent on yourself or in your house, use 100% pure essential oils that come from plants, trees or flowers. You can also use an essential oil diffuser or mix a few drops of essential oils into a spray bottle filled with distilled water. Bring in green plants, which naturally purify the air.

With the new year now begun, it’s the perfect time to address your indoor air quality. How about making 2011 the year you become nontoxic? When you want to know about ingredients in any household product, see the Household Products Database maintained by the National Institutes of Health or get the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from the manufacturer’s website and look at the list of hazardous ingredients.

Learn more by reading How Everyday Products Make People Sick: Toxins at Home and in the Workplace by Paul D. Blanc. Note that many products labeled “all natural” and “organic” are just as toxic as the conventional ones. To learn more about natural cleaning solutions, including alternatives to bleach, read Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck.

Christina Grant, PhD

Read more by Dr. Grant on her blog, Dr. Grant Holistic


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