Staying Healthy

Chemical tattooExercise and good nutrition are key to a healthy lifestyle, but not enough. It’s also important to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday products — from water bottles and food cans to cosmetics and cleansers to pajamas, not to mention food and water. Among the chemicals of concern are BPA (bisphenol A), phthalates, flame retardants (PBDE), and of course pesticides. Not only are they found in common household and personal products, but they are all found in the bodies of people, including children — and have been shown in research to pose serious long-term health risks. Learn more:

  • Pollution in People – For an overview of the problem, called "body burden," start here. It explains how chemicals get into your body in the first place, the dangers they present and how to minimize exposure.
  • Raising Healthy Children – Young children are more vulnerable to toxins than older folks. Find out how to keep them safe. Note: the best protection starts before conception.
  • Scented Products – The fragrances in most personal care and household products, including many labeled "unscented," expose you to phthalates and other toxins. Learn why it matters and how to find products that are truly fragrance- and phthalate-free.
  • Bug Spray, Examined – DEET keeps the bugs away, including mosquitoes and ticks that carry serious diseases. But it also carries risks of its own. Should you use it?
  • Clean Enough – Who says you need heavy-duty chemicals to keep the house clean? Once upon a time, people cleaned with everyday materials, many of which were safe enough to eat. They still do the trick.
  • Low-VOC Paints – That new paint smell comes from toxic VOCs that you are breathing in. Try low- or zero-VOC paints instead.
  • A Greener Lawn – Pity the poor child or pet who plays on a chemically-treated lawn. There are better ways to get that perfect bed of green than pesticides.
  • Pet Protection – Of course, you want to keep fleas and ticks away, but not at the expense of your best friend’s health. Learn how.
  • What I Didn’t Know about Mercury – Surprise! Mercury isn’t just dangerous for kids. And your levels, like mine, may be higher than you think.
  • Sticky Business – The problem with Teflon isn’t the chipping but the fumes. If you can’t cook without it, at least use it safely.
  • Mothballed – A moth infestation is bad; chronic exposure to mothballs may be worse. Try a natural approach.
  • Plastic Water Bottles – Many hard plastic bottles are reassuringly advertised as BPA-free. But is that the same thing as safe?
  • Is Organic Food Worth It? – The short answer is yes, but the details are worth knowing. If you can’t afford an all-organic diet, see my post on the 12 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic (2011).
  • The Future of Drinking Water – Bottled water is less well regulated than tap and its purity and safety is far from a sure thing, as independent testing has proven. Think about switching back to tap water. If you are concerned about the quality, there are steps you can take.