Chemicals and Longevity Part 1

Every day it seems there is another news segment or article telling us about toxic chemicals in our foods, clothes, homes, cars and the air we breathe.  They are everywhere and apparently we are in immediate threat from dying any minute from them.  But is this really true or just scare media?  It is true chemicals can be deadly and some are immediate, but let’s take a more objective view.  People aren’t falling over around us because they ate a can of soup, lay on their floor, or drove their car.  Most chemicals we come into contact with on a daily basis need a more cumulative effect to cause major health issues.  Our bodies have ways to eliminate toxins, so if we don’t overload it, it can take care of a lot of them.  This is through our lymphatic nodes, sweat glands, liver, kidneys, and even the skin blocks a lot of chemicals.  Let’s look at a few that have been mentioned lately and that we all have in our homes right now.


Formaldehyde was in the news with Lumber Liquidators sourcing laminate flooring from Chinese factories that exceeded legal standards.  It was also mentioned during hurricane Katrina when those in the government provided trailers started suffering respiratory issues, nosebleeds, and headaches. It used to be the major issue with carpets and why the trend went to other flooring.  Formaldehyde is a flammable chemical found in wood glue used in flooring, furniture, particle board, and plywood.

The problem with formaldehyde is that inhaling it can cause nose, throat, and eye irritation, and can trigger asthma attacks.  It has also been linked to several different cancers.  The studies that linked it to cancer however were performed on workers who are exposed to high levels on a daily basis such as manufacturer workers or those in the funeral industry.

Those of us who have products in our homes are exposed, but mostly at levels deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.  To reduce the amount, look at where products are manufactured before buying them.  The California Air Resources Board has the most stringent regulations so you can look for a label indicating CARB phase 2 compliance.  Solid wood doesn’t have the glue holding it together like pressed wood, so that is an easy, but costly solution.  You can also put new products in your garage or outside to air out for a couple of days.  This is highly recommended when you get a new rug (look at a label next time you buy one).  You can smell it, so it is easy to tell if you need to air out a new product.  If you put in new flooring, plan to open windows if possible for several days or even weeks.



BPA is everywhere.  It is found in plastics, so it is extremely hard to get away from it.  It used to make hard polycarbonate plastics like those found in water bottles, kitchen bowls, plastic glasses, even your dashboard in your car.  It is also found in epoxy resins which is used to line food cans.

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical which means it can act like a hormone such as estrogen.  It can potentially have an effect on fetal development and even affect the eggs themselves causing fertility issues.  It has also been linked to obesity in that it is thought to break down into a chemical that spurs the growth of fat cells.  Hormone imbalances also cause obesity as well as a host of other health issues.

To reduce your exposure to BPA, look at labels.  Use glass food storage containers or glass drinking vessels.  If you need plastic food containers, look for a label stating it is BPA Free.  Look for the label on canned foods too or better yet, just eat fresh foods.  Don’t microwave food in plastic because heat allows chemicals to leach into your foods.   When you get into your car, especially on a hot day, open the door and stand back for a minute.  It only takes a minute for the majority of toxic air in your car to be dispersed before you get in.  Your body eliminates BPA fairly quickly and you can’t avoid it in today’s world.  You can only be aware and take as many precautions as possible for your lifestyle.

See next article for Part 2.

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