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Top 10 Toxic Chemicals Found Right In Your Home

Top 10 Toxic Chemicals Found Right In Your Home
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Shower curtain photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 2.0.

Due to the advance of the industrialized world, having a home free from artificial chemicals may be next to impossible in this day and age. A list of the top 10 toxic chemicals to look out for and avoid is found below.

1. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde, also known as methanal, is used in a vast number of industrial applications and is found in an enormous number of industrial products. Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) and is “off-gassed” from a variety of construction materials, furnishings, and consumer products. The three products that emit the highest concentrations are medium density fiberboard, hardwood plywood, and particle board. [1] Carpets and memory foam also emit formaldehyde.

In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen”. [2] Owing to its widespread use, you might have a difficult time removing formaldehyde-emitting products from your home entirely, and this is a bigger problem ever before now that modern homes are much more “air sealed” than ever before – for insulation purposes. However the USA’s EPA has made a positive step and finalized new regulations Dec 2016 controlling the allowable emission of formaldehyde in industrial products such as plywood and fiberboard. [3]

One thing that is advised is to maintain a supply of fresh air in the home. It’s also possible to obtain VOC-removing air purifiers.

2. Atrazine

Atrazine is one of the most widely used but controversial herbicides in the world. [4] Farmers and gardeners use it to prevent broadleaf weeds and to kill weeds that have already emerged.

The herbicide is very common in the United States and over 73 million pounds of it is found in our lawns, food crops, and golf courses every year. [5] It can lead to water contamination and as a result, it affects our marine life including fish, turtles, frogs, and alligators. In particular, it affects our marine life’s reproductive system and hormones – male fishes were found with eggs due to exposure to this herbicide. While there have been no documented studies about how it could affect human hormones, scientists believe that the effects are also negative.

Short-term exposure can lead to muscle spasms, damage to adrenal glands, low blood pressure, and congestion of heart, lungs, and kidneys. [6] Long-term exposure can cause cardiovascular damage, cancer, and retinal and muscle degeneration.

3. Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A or BPA is a synthetic estrogen and industrial chemical that has been used to make certain resins and plastics since the sixties. [7] In particular, it is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

BPA is typically found in water bottles and other plastic containers used to store food and beverages. It can seep into our food or beverages. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that it is safe at very low levels that occur in some foods, it is still better to use BPA-free products.

Although it is usually found in plastic, it is also found in other products we are exposed to on a daily basis. [8] The substance is found in canned goods and cash register receipts and money. It is believed that eating food from canned products will greatly increase BPA exposure by up to 1,000 percent. [9] As for receipts and money, researchers have found that we could be absorbing a few nanograms of BPA every day just from holding the receipts and money! [10]

People now tend to avoid BPA after reports have revealed that it is an endocrine disruptor that could raise your blood pressure. [11] This can lead to hormonal imbalances, infertility, and increased risk of reproductive cancers. In addition, it could also lead to low sperm count, early puberty in children, and other hormone-related problems.

4. Chlordane

Chlordane is a generic term for a group of chemical compounds that are “chlorinated cyclodienes.” [12] It has been banned in the United States for around 30 years. [13] However, the risk of exposure is nowhere near gone.

It was typically found in insecticide and termiticide in the past. Despite the long period of time, it still remains. It is a persistent organic pollutant that does not readily break down and is still found in a high percentage of homes 30 years after being used.

Long-term exposure to chlordane, particularly from living in a house built before 1988, could affect your nervous and digestive system. The chemical is also toxic to your liver. High exposure and lead to convulsions and immediate death. Low exposure over time could also lead to headaches, vision problems, vomiting, general malaise, and stomach cramps.

5. Dioxins

Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds which are persistent environmental pollutants. [14] They are found all over the world and can accumulate in the food chain in the fatty tissue of animals. Over 90% of our exposure is through food, mainly with dairy, meat products, fish, and shellfish.

These compounds are highly toxic and can lead to developmental and reproductive problems. It can also interfere with our hormones, damage the immune system, and also cause cancer. In order to reduce your risk to exposure, it is advisable to trim the fat from your meat and consume low-fat dairy products.

6. Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are used to reduce the devastating impact of fires. [15] The most common elements in flame retardants are chlorine, phosphorus, bromine, and nitrogen. Inorganic compounds are also used in flame retardants as well.

The primary applications of flame retardant chemicals in the United States are in wires and cables, electronics, building insulation, and polyurethane foam. [16] Recent legislation has been more strict about their use; however, household products and pipes of furniture manufactured before 2005 still have these chemicals in high concentration.

A study showed that some flame retardants used in everyday household items have been associated with papillary thyroid cancer. [17] Other studies have shown that flame retardants in breast milk have been linked to infertility, cancers, behavioral problems, birth defects, and lower IQ scores. [18]

7. Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust. [19] While it has its benefits, it is generally considered to be toxic to humans and animals. It is found in the air, the water, and the soil. It can also make its way into our homes through the water pipes that bring in our water, countertops and floors that contain dust from paint and soil, and even some windows. It was also commonly found in paint and even in some beauty products.

Too much exposure to lead can be detrimental to our health, especially for young children. Lead in the body is assessed through the measurement of it in the blood. [20] It is usually distributed to the bones, kidney, brain, and liver. No known level of lead exposure is considered to be completely safe.

8. Mercury

Mercury is a naturally occurring element which can be found in water, air, and soil. [21] Exposure to it can cause serious health problems which could affect the digestive, immune, and nervous systems.

Mercury is found in some thermostats and thermometers which could break and release droplets into the air. Small amounts of it can also be released from “silver” dental fillings over a long period of time, it is found in many “spiral” compact fluorescent lightbulbs – which will release it if broken. We may even be exposed to it from some skin lightening creams and eating fish.

It is a major public health concern when people are exposed to high levels of mercury. It can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption. Acute exposure to mercury could lead to psychotic reactions, suicidal tendencies, delirium, and hallucinations. [22] It has also been linked to immune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis.

9. Perchlorate

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and a man-made chemical compound that is typically used in batteries, fireworks, explosives, and rocket fuel. [23] It is also found in fertilizers, airbags, and bleaches. It can also be widespread in soils and plants, ground water, and even our food.

This known toxin is absolutely poisonous to the environment and human beings. It is detrimental to the thyroid gland, hormonal balance, and metabolism. It is also considered a “likely human carcinogen” by the EPA. [24]

10. Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemicals which soften and increase the flexibility of both plastic and vinyl. [25] It is used in hundreds of consumer products such as hairspray, perfume, shampoo, soap, and nail polish. We can also find them in shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl toys, food packaging, and plastic wrap.

Researchers have linked phthalates to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma, and breast cancer. [26] In addition, they have also been linked to type II diabetes, obesity, low IQ, behavioral issues, neurodevelopmental issues, and autism spectrum disorders. They also affect reproductive development and male fertility issues.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formaldehyde
[2] https://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsroom/releases/2011/june10/
[3] https://www.epa.gov/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-emission-standards-composite-wood-products
[4] http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe70s/pests_05.html
[5] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/10/19/atrazine-health-effects.aspx
[6] https://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showAtrazineHealth.action
[7] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331
[8] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/22/bpa-exposure-health-problem.aspx
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22110104
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21744851
[11] https://wellnessmama.com/54748/hidden-sources-of-bpa/
[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217617/
[13] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-dangers-of-chlordane/
[14] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/
[15] https://flameretardants.americanchemistry.com/Flame-Retardant-Basics/
[16] http://greensciencepolicy.org/topics/flame-retardants/
[17] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170402111311.htm
[18] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/11/8-flame-retardant-facts.aspx
[19] https://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead
[20] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs379/en/
[21] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/
[22] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/the-dangers-of-mercury-exposure-to-your-health/
[23] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-is-perchlorate-7-shocking-facts/
[24] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/perchlorate-in-drinking-water/
[25] https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=24
[26] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/10/phthalates-plastics-chemicals-research-analysis

Top Ten Natural Remedies For Bronchitis

Top 10 Natural Remedies For Bronchitis
Graphic © herbsandhealth.net. Photos – Pixabay (PD)

Bronchitis is a pulmonary disease that often happens when an individual is exposed to cold temperatures or wet environments for prolonged periods of time. When left untreated, it may result in complication that can prove to be highly detrimental to health. Bronchitis may progress to graver diseases such as pneumonia and emphysema. Typically characterised by wheezing, difficulty in breathing, and the collection of phlegm inside the lungs, bronchitis may also be accompanied by a slight fever or a congested nose.

Some individuals may opt to take antibiotics or synthetic medicines for the treatment of bronchitis, but there are some simple and readily available home remedies for bronchitis that promise great relief and ready recovery without the costliness or side-effects associated with synthetic medicines. Here are ten natural remedies for bronchitis that you can employ right in the comfort of your home:

1. Honey

A reputed cure-all for almost everything, honey can be employed as a remedy for synthetic demulcents and expectorants. When employing honey for the treatment of bronchitis, you should always choose raw (unfiltered and unpasteurised) honey over the regular varieties. To add to its therapeutic efficiency, you may incorporate powdered herbs such as ginger, cloves, and cinnamon to the honey; to be taken as much as six times a day for a week until symptoms disappear or general improvement is seen.

2. Cinnamon Bark

Cinnamon bark has long been considered a warming herb, and when drunk as a decoction, it can help to soothe the discomfort associated with bronchitis. It may even help to alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease, while subsequently improving the body’s overall capacity to recover, thanks to its immune-boosting and antimicrobial properties. When allowed to macerate in one’s choice of base oil, wax, or ester, it can even be made into a salve or balm, that, when applied topically to the chest and back areas, may help to provide relief and facilitate in decongestion.

3. Ginger Root

Another well-known warming herb, ginger root acts as an analgesic which helps to lessen the discomfort brought about by bronchitis. It is also a well-known soothing herb with mild expectorant properties, and when strongly decocted and liberally sweetened with honey, can be drunk daily as a remedy for bronchitis, mild to severe coughing, and even asthma. To increase its general therapeutic properties, you may opt to add orange or lemon peel to the ginger root tea for more efficient results.

4. Citrus Juices

Freshly squeezed citrus juices (derived from your choice of mandarins, oranges, calamondin, limes, or lemons), when drunk regularly can help to treat bronchitis by boosting the Vitamin C concentrations found in the body, which is a known way to help remedy pulmonary diseases. It can be sweetened with raw honey, or otherwise diluted with green tea or one’s choice of herbal tisane for better therapeutic benefits. It can be drunk at the onset of the disease to jumpstart the recovery process, and consumed throughout, until well after the recovery phase to continuously boost the immune system and bolster it against any possible recurrence.

Alternately, you may opt to load on Vitamin C in the form of potassium or sodium ascorbate, although the latter can be bolstered with the intake of citrus fruits in either whole or extracted (juice) form.

5. Peppermint

Peppermint is an age-old remedy for bronchitis and nearly every type of pulmonary complaints. Employed either as a tisane, an inhaler, or a salve (through the use of its essential oil) it helps to combat the symptoms of bronchitis (especially if employed as a salve or an inhalant), while oral intake of peppermint helps to cool the body and the pulmonary areas in general, thereby alleviating discomfort. Peppermint also possesses powerful antibacterial and immunosupportive properties, making it an excellent soothing drink during the recovery-phase of the disease.

6. Eucalyptus

Employed chiefly as an inhalant, or otherwise heavily diluted in a base oil of your choice and used as a salve or an ointment, eucalyptus helps to facilitate decongestion, expectoration, and functions as a cooling and soothing herb that helps to counteract common symptoms such as chest pains and constriction, difficulty in breathing, and wheezing. Eucalyptus, when used as an inhalant, functions as a natural nebulizer.

7. Sage

Sage is an immune-boosting herb and pulmonary tonic used since ancient times. It can either be decocted and drunk as a tisane (tea), or otherwise incorporated into foodstuffs to add flavor and health benefits. Similar to peppermint which has a soothing, cooling, and expectorant property, sage also possesses powerful anti-microbial and natural antibiotic properties that help to combat a variety of pulmonary and immuno-suppressive diseases. Sage may also be employed as an inhalant, much like peppermint, and may even be combined with peppermint essential oil and subsequently used as a healing ointment for the relief of chest pains and breathing difficulties.

8. Cloves

Cloves are an ancient healing spice that has been employed to treat a wide variety of lung ailments since time immemorial. Cloves may be decocted, and the resulting liquor drunk in minute dosages to help relieve the symptoms of bronchitis and eventually facilitate healing. Whole cloves may also be employed as an inhalant by throwing a handful of dried and crushed clove ‘blossoms’ into a pan of hot water and inhaling the ensuing steam. Its essential oil – oil of cloves – may even be diluted with your choice of base-oil and employed as a soothing ointment for the back and chest to further provide relief from the symptoms of bronchitis. Cloves possess very powerful antimicrobial properties which help to actively combat disease, subsequently boosting the immune system and eventually hastening recovery.

9. Lotus Root

While not so commonly employed in Western alternative medicine, lotus root (especially white lotus root) has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in kampo (Traditional Japanese Medicine) as a remedy for bronchitis, coughs, cold, and flu. The root, employed in dried and powdered form, is drunk as a warming beverage. It is said to help improve decongestion, nourish the lungs, improve circulation, and tonify the pulmonary and digestive systems. Lotus root may even be integrated into natural cough syrups (i. e. medicated raw honey), or otherwise mixed with other healing herbs and spices to render a more potent remedy.

10. Therapeutic Diet

One of the most overlooked therapeutic means that most ailing and convalescent individuals fail to incorporate is proper, nutritive, and therapeutic food. In the case of bronchitis, chicken soup accompanied by herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, onions, garlic, and lemongrass makes for an excellent nourishing food during, and after illness. Adding moringa leaves and papaya helps to give it an even better nutritional boost. Alternatively, ‘hot’ foods like chicken masala, curries, and chili may also help to combat bronchitis since these foods contain warming herbs and spices and are whole meals in themselves.

If you have bronchitis, the body can be supported during the illness through natural healing herbs, and more importantly, through good, balanced, and equally therapeutic nourishing foods.

Glyphosate Implicated In Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemic

Glyphosate (Roundup) Implicated In Chronic Kidney Disease EpidemicImages – Pixabay (PD)

Chronic kidney disease or CKD is a condition characterized by loss of kidney function, persisting for more than six months (conditions that are shorter than six months are called acute). People can get sick with CKD because of a variety of factors, typically because of an unhealthy diet high in sodium and persistent hypertension.

According to Jayasumana, et. al., CKD of unknown etiology was first discovered among the Sri Lanka farmers in the mid-1990s. It first started in the North Central Province and spreading out to neighboring farming areas over the next twenty years. Over 400,000 people were affected, with mortality rates reaching 20,000. The affected farmers were not diagnosed with co-morbidities like diabetes or hypertension but were showing the dangerous signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease. [1]

The “cluster” of CKD cases in Sri Lanka suggested to researchers that something environmental be causing kidney damage – and they found a correlation between the unusually high number of CKD cases and the use of glyphosate (Roundup) – the most widely used herbicide in the affected area.

Toxic nephropathy is what the researchers suggest is causing the kidney diseases among the farmers. While glyphosate alone is considered not enough to cause CKD, the combination with water hardness and nephrotoxic metals are thought to damage the kidney’s tissues severely.

The researchers found that there was a positive association between hard water drinking and CKD. Hard water is water with high mineral content, like calcium and magnesium deposits from the water percolating through rock. Over 96 percent of affected farmers consumed hard water for at least five years. However there are people in many other places who have hard water and not the kidney disease.

Further research revealed a factor specific to the area — the use of glyphosate as a herbicide. This chemical is marketed widely all over the world as “Roundup” produced by the Monsanto Company. Glyphosate is far from being environmental friendly and takes a long time because it degrades – it stays for approximately 92 days in water and 47 days in soil, enough time to seem into the farm’s drinking water sources. [1][2]

Ayoola in 2008 found that glyphosate caused necrosis in the kidney tissues in test subjects exposed to the chemical. Seralini similarly concluded that glyphosate exposure through the diet caused increases in serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen, two of the most important markers of kidney health. Kruger, et. in 2010 discovered the same nephrotoxic effects on test subjects exposed to glyphosate. [3][4][5]

Jayasuma, et. al. conducted another study published in 2015, focusing on farmers visiting the Padavi-Sripura hospital and being diagnosed with CKD. They had the same conclusion, that an interplay of factors – hardness of water and intake of and exposure to glyphosate – caused severe damage to the kidneys, leading to chronic kidney diseases. [6]

Because of the scientific community’s focus on the nephrotoxic effects of glyphosate, Sri Lanka’s president in 2015 banned the use of the herbicide in the country. However, Roundup, which uses glyphosate as a main ingredient, is still popularly used in the United States, marketed by a big company not only towards farmers but also as a herbicide you can use in your own home. The commercialization of glyphosate is a scary thought to consider, since it has been linked to kidney damage and chronic illness. Using Roundup in your own garden means you are receiving direct exposure to the chemical and potentially raising your risk (as well as your loved ones’) of getting sick.

Instead of choosing a dangerous chemical to control weeds in your home garden, opt for natural methods instead. Vinegar is a popular choice to kill weeks, because it easy to find and even easier to use. Just be careful that you don’t douse your plant with the liquid!

Article by Samantha Fernandez for herbsandhealth.net © 2017


[1] Jayasumana, C., et. al. (2014). Glyphosate, Hard Water and Nephrotoxic Metals: Are They the Culprits Behind the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology in Sri Lanka? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945589/

[2] Monsanto.com. Roundup. http://www.monsanto.com/global/au/products/pages/roundup.aspx

[3] Ayoola S.O. Histopathological effect of glyphosate on Juvenile African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) Am. Eurasian J. Agric. Environ. Sci. 2008;4:362–367. doi: 10.3844/ajessp.2008.362.366. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237539217_Histopathological_Effects_of_Glyphosate_on_Juvenile_African_Catfish_Clarias_gariepinus

[4] Seralini, G., et. al. (2007). New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17356802/

[5] Krüger M., Schrödl W., Neuhaus J., Shehata A.A. Field investigations of glyphosate in urine of Danish dairy cows. J. Environ. Anal. Toxicol. 2013;3 doi: 10.4172/2161-0525.1000186. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259042336_Field_Investigations_of_Glyphosate_in_Urine_of_Danish_Dairy_Cows

[6] Jayasumana, C., et. al. (2015). Drinking well water and occupational exposure to Herbicides is associated with chronic kidney disease, in Padavi-Sripura, Sri Lanka. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417209/