The deadly chemical cocktail building up in our bodies is causing us great harm, manifesting itself in everything from asthma to cancer. Toxins are ravaging our lives -- and even more so the lives of our children.
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Because they are smaller and still developing, they are far more vulnerable than we are to toxic exposures, yet they are assaulted at identical levels. Now, as a result, their health is suffering. In the United States, childhood cancers, now the leading cause of death by disease for children between the ages of one and nineteen, increased by approximately 21 percent between and Certain other cancers -- brain tumors, leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia ALL , and central nervous system malignancies -- are growing even faster, at rates of about 30 percent over the last two decades.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that these rates will continue to grow an additional one percent every year. And that''s just the beginning. Over the past decade, we''ve seen a sixfold increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD. An appalling American diet has produced an obesity epidemic, and diabetes is at nearly epidemic proportions as well.
Childhood asthma is the leading cause of emergency room visits and absenteeism in schools. Rates of autism are rising fast, and rheumatoid arthritis has become the third-most-common chronic childhood disorder. Premature births, problems conceiving, and birth defects are all on the rise.
It''s no secret that environmental factors contribute to many of these extremely serious health issues. But even as our bodies rebel against toxins, we continue exposing ourselves to them recklessly, without pausing to consider how our snap decisions might affect our health, or the health of future generations. Most of us feel helpless when confronted with these terrifying realities. We shrug off the health crisis our kids are facing as beyond our individual control. I''m here to tell you that we can take action to improve this situation, and it''s much easier than you might think.
As consumers, we have the power to control the level of toxins that enter our homes. With a little knowledge, we can give our families a much healthier life. Rethinking how we clean our homes is, to me, the most logical place to begin this process. After all, unlike so many other modern conveniences, we don''t use chemical cleaning products to save time or money.
We use them because our mothers used them -- because, quite simply, we don''t know any better. Throughout the book, I''ve tried to identify ingredients that may be harmful to you and your family. Some of my assertions might be controversial; the manufacturers of these products will insist that they have been tested and are safe when used as directed. But I don''t think that should be the end of the inquiry.
Even if the products I discuss are not necessarily toxic to all people in all circumstances, they do all contain potentially dangerous substances. Obviously, the hazards depend on many factors, including how concentrated the chemicals are, and how long we''re exposed to them, but can we really afford to take risks with our children''s health?
Even if the phenol in a single squirt of air freshener isn''t immediately harmful, the amount in a bottle is likely to be toxic if your child ingests it. And kids love to sample everything they can get their hands on. I am also concerned that there has not been sufficient testing to determine the harm to the environment or the long-term ill-health effects of exposure to commercial cleaning products. What little we do know is frightening, so instead of gambling with our children''s future, I really recommend using nontoxic alternatives whenever they''re available. Did you know that the ingredients in many common household cleaners -- laundry and dishwashing detergents, glass and tile cleaners, air fresheners, furniture polish, carpet shampoo -- have been linked to a number of serious childhood health disorders, everything from asthma to cancer?
If not, it''s not your fault: The manufacturers of these familiar items never tell us that their products are packed with potential carcinogens, neurotoxins, mutagens, teratogens, and endocrine and hormone disrupters. Misleading or incomplete labels can fool even the most conscientious moms. These companies have no incentive to enlighten us. Think about it. If more of us knew that the cleaning products we depend on every day contained potentially dangerous chemicals, we''d surely stop buying them immediately.
And if we did that, these hugely powerful corporations would be forced to change their business practices, or start losing money fast. But what''s more important in the end -- these companies'' profits, or our children''s futures? As a culture, I think we''re all looking for ways to live healthier and get closer to nature, whether consciously or not.
We desperately want to lower our toxic burden, not add to it every time we do the dishes or disinfect the toilet. Unfortunately, that''s exactly what we''re doing every time we clean our homes with chemicals. The good news is that there is a safer way to keep your homes germ and dirt free -- without sacrificing quality, or investing any extra time or money.
There''s no reason to lower your standards or empty your wallet to protect your children''s health. No reason, either, to feel stressed by the changes I''m proposing you make. I know from experience that stress paralyzes people, and I can''t emphasize enough that real change occurs slowly, one tweak at a time. I repeat: This doesn''t have to be a big project.
I''m not asking you to put your life on hold, or do weeks of research, or overhaul your entire household. I''ve written this book to demystify the process for you, to give you realistic steps that will empower you to make the first small changes. The more you learn, the more you''ll understand how much common sense my whole approach makes.
You''ll begin to ask: If nontoxic products exist that work as effectively as -- and sometimes even more effectively than -- the synthetic cleaners I grew up with, why would I knowingly expose my children to harmful toxins? Why not eliminate all traces of chemicals that might make my kids sick or harm the environment?
As parents, we have a responsibility to start asking these questions -- and to start demanding answers. We need to equip ourselves with this information so that we can make the right choices for our kids. Children are our most precious natural resource. They don''t have a voice of their own. It''s time we spoke up on their behalf. For their sake, I encourage you to make the commitment to a healthier life today. Going Off Autopilot Cleaning is a necessity, a basic fact of life.
Whether you''re a single mom, or a student, or a bachelor, whether you do your own cleaning or pay someone else to do it for you, sooner or later you have no choice in the matter. How you clean, on the other hand, is entirely up to you.
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With a few simple actions, you can decide if, when cleaning your house, you are going to nurture or pollute your family. You can choose whether the cleaning products you bring home will be a primary source of good or of bad, of safety or contamination. But what does "clean" really mean? What does clean even smell like?
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Sadly, most of us have never given these basic questions much thought. If you''re like me, you probably grew up associating "clean" with the chemical stench of your mother''s tried-and-true cleaning products. If our bathroom reeked of ammonia or pine or chlorine bleach, then I assumed that it was clean, germ free, sanitized. To me, clean equaled chemical. This is a common, but dangerous, mistake. When I got to college, I had already made a commitment to healthy living.
As a competitive runner, I paid close attention to the foods that I put into my body. But it hadn''t yet occurred to me that there might also be a connection between my performance on the track and the products I used to clean my living space. So when I walked down that mysterious aisle of the grocery store for the first time, I went right on autopilot, reaching for the same brands that I remembered my mother and grandmother buying year after year.
Like most people, I confused familiarity with safety. Back then, I had no idea that I was breathing in potentially toxic fumes whenever I mopped, or scrubbed my toilet, or cleaned my oven.
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I didn''t realize that most commercial dishwasher powders contain some bleach, which combines with hot water to emit chlorine vapors that can be absorbed right into our skin and lungs. Or that some upholstery shampoos can damage the nerves, liver, and kidneys. I definitely didn''t know that the ingredients in many air fresheners might cause cancer. Most of you don''t consider these hazards every time you dart into the store to grab a new box of laundry detergent. You''re probably like I was: Because you have a million other things on your mind, you default to buying the exact same products -- or maybe the new-and-improved version of those exact same products -- that your mothers relied on when you were growing up.
What worked for them will work for you -- right? But there''s a major problem with this whole scenario.
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Over the last two decades, we''ve learned a lot of disturbing information about the chemicals in these cleaning products. We know that, despite the proven hazards of their main ingredients, very few conventional household cleaners have ever been evaluated for their long-term impact on human -- and particularly children''s -- health. Untested combinations of chemicals hit the shelves of supermarkets and drugstores with no interference from the government. Why, when they''re hurting us like this, do we insist on sticking to the same old toxic cleaning products? It defies common sense.
Green This! Volume 1: Greening Your Cleaning
These substances are making us sick. They''re making our kids sick, our pets sick, and our environment sick. Given the state of our children''s health, we can no longer afford to ignore these dangers. Each and every one of us needs to start asking, as I did almost twenty years ago: Does the fact that my mom used this product prove that it''s good for me? What do I know about this product''s ingredients, and the impact those ingredients will have on my family? And why is it so hard to get answers? Why would I buy a product when I turn it over to read the list of ingredients and can''t even find out what''s in it?
As I said earlier, that''s all I want you to do at this stage -- just start asking the questions. For me, this is the single most important step of the whole greening process: becoming aware of the problem. Once you understand how these environmental toxins affect you, the rest will fall into place.
Over time, you''ll come to realize that the way your mother cleaned might not have been the best or the safest or even the most sanitary way to clean. Condition: Brand New. See our member profile for customer support contact info. We have an easy return policy. Seller Inventory Book Description Simon and Schuster.
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