Live Total Wellness

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Make it a green sweep this spring
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It's a whole new world of non-toxic clean for this gone-eco reporter

By Barbara Mahany
Tribune staff reporter

April 15, 2007

Excuse me while I finish something here -- gurgle, slurp, kerplunk. That noise in the background? The sound of me dumping out my old toxic cleaning caddy.

I am here to tell you, I am born again. At least at the well-scrubbed altar of cleaning green, I am.

Now waking up to parsley scent in my salle de bain. Rubbing windows shiny with eau de vinegar, or, perhaps, purified H2O laced with essential lavender oil. Rinsing toilet bowl, should you care to peek in there, with coconut-derived surfactant in natural cedar scent.

But not a toxin do I own.

Not anymore anyways, and not anywhere in the vicinity of my cleaning shelf. I am, I swear on a stack of holy books, deeply steeped in keeping my clean green.

I once was in the dark, but now I've seen the streak-free, smudge-proof, dust-swiped light.

I once had wronged, but now I'm free. Free of 2-butoxyethanol, free of n-Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, free of hydrocarbon propellant, for crying out loud.

There's a maxim in the world of cleaning green, and it is this: If you can't pronounce what's in it, toss it out.

So toss I did.

At first, this was just another story, this cleaning green. And I'll be honest, not long after I started, my head was spinning. You quickly come to find out that in the world of so-called eco-cleaning, there's a whole slew of terms that frankly are more than somewhat slippery. What really defines green? Or natural?

Is it biodegradable? Plant-based? Sustainable? Organic?

Turns out, there's no one keeping watch on how these words are being used. Unlike organic food, which now comes under the certification of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are no federal or industry standards for household cleaning products claiming to be "green." Rather than muddy the waters, and slinging dirt on companies who contend they're doing the right thing, I will simply fill you in on the cleaners I now count on, to get the job done, get it done sparklingly, and to preserve the planet while doing so. (We'll save what to do about laundry another day, another story.)

What you were afraid to ask

Before we turn to my reborn cleaning ways, I need to let you in on a few spine-chilling facts I turned up in talking to chemists and environmental engineers, some of whom are independent academic researchers, others in-house eco-gurus at respected green-cleaner firms.

The bottom line, before we get into details, is that you have every reason to be worried about the toxins you bring into your home, via your cleaning caddy.

William Nazaroff, professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, led a four-year, $400,000 study looking at what he calls "the pollution sources right under our nose."

Considered the first, most comprehensive study to measure emissions and primary and secondary toxic compounds under typical indoor-use conditions, the Berkeley analysis, published just last May, found two serious causes for concern.

Looking at 17 cleaning products and four air fresheners, the researchers found that, under normal conditions, six of the cleaning products emitted a toxic compound, ethyl-based glycols, at levels up to three times higher than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would allow for outdoor pollution standards. Glycol ethers, widely used as solvents, are considered by the EPA to be "hazardous air pollutants."

And 12 of the tested cleaning products contain a class of chemicals known as terpenes -- again often used as solvents, but more frequently as the citrus-based scent in so many cleaning products -- that rapidly reacts with ozone, producing harmful byproducts such as formaldehyde and small-particle pollutants that no lungs need inhale. Nazaroff points out that ozone can seep into buildings through ventilation, or even just an open window.

The worst scenario, explained Nazaroff in a recent telephone interview, is when you clean a large surface in a small, say, bathroom, and spend up to 15 minutes scrubbing, say, scale off the shower walls. It is particularly troublesome for anyone who cleans four houses a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, he adds. That means that if you employ a cleaning service, the ones who scour your shower might be inhaling truly hazardous fumes, at three times the amount that would be allowed to spew from a factory.

The damage wrought by the cans and bottles that hide in the underbelly of your kitchen sink might be anything from nausea to kidney, liver or blood dysfunction to pediatric cancer to diminished sperm count, said Nazaroff, who is not an epidemiologist but thoroughly reviewed published studies linking toxic compounds to a host of health concerns.

A 15-year study in Oregon, presented at a recent National Center for Health Statistics conference, looked at death rates from cancer in women who worked in the home versus women who left their homes for work each day. Researchers found a 54 percent higher death rate from cancer in the women who stayed home; the study strongly suggested household cleaning toxins as key culprits.

Anecdotally, it seems that every week I hear news of someone else with cancer -- often someones who don't smoke, and try to live a healthy life. I find myself scratching my head, wondering what unknown substance is wreaking all this hell. And, as if I needed further motivation to clean up my cleaning act, I already have one son with asthma and I fear for the other.

But how does green clean?

I'm telling you I dove into my spring cleaning with a vengeance. The burning selfish question, the one most everybody asks: What's the point of cleaning green if my house no longer sparkles?

I am here to tell you, my house is sparkling. To tell the truth, the window panes are sighing, so worn out from all the rubbing.

I spent weeks collecting cleaners claiming to be green. I checked what's called Material Safety Data Sheets -- MSDS, for short -- on most of the products, which is really the only way to know what's in the stuff you spray, you squirt, you pour.

I followed the green-clean maxim: If my tongue got twisted trying to read ingredients, I tossed.

And, yes, I started out as kitchen chemist. Gathered vinegar and lemons, baking soda, Borax and pitchers full of water. I stood there with my funnel and my measuring cups. I poured, I spilled, I read the teeny half-cup marker lines. And then, not long after, I surrendered.

You might get your kicks stirring your own stuff. Dropping essential oil to make it smell all yummy. Indeed, if you care to mix it up, there are many Web sites rife with recipes. One you might check out is www.biggreenpurse. com (see a few of their recipes in an accompanying story).

But I'm a low-grade cleaner, I suppose. I've been seduced and I've succumbed. I go for nifty premixed bottles by companies I truly think I can trust.

One fascinating wrinkle in all this cleaning whirl, is that the good folks at Whole Foods seem to be among the toughest in setting green-clean standards. If it's on their shelf, you can safely assume they've done the dirty work already and consider it mighty green.

"That's what our cleaning aisle is all about," says Will Betts, Whole Foods' Midwest regional grocery coordinator. "You don't need to do the legwork to do your housecleaning. Our standards are certainly stricter than the standards at all the conventional markets."

Biodegradability, he says, is standard No. 1.

But even that, counters environmental engineer Nazaroff, is a claim with not much meaning. "It tells me that it won't be there for 100 years. It's not going to be bio-accumulating in fields in the Arctic, but it really doesn't tell us anything."

What's needed in this country, he says, is a complete U-turn in how we look at how we clean. "The rule in the U.S. is that chemicals are innocent until proven guilty. Europeans have flipped that. The idea there is that before [a chemical] can be introduced, it has to be demonstrated safe."

Not one to wait, I read my labels, called around with laundry lists of questions, cleaned like crazy and, at last, restocked my caddy.

The price of green

Oh, one other thing, one thing you really might be wondering: cost. What's the wallop on your wallet? Depending where you shop, you might spend anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent more on cleaning green, per bottle. But here's my take: On the one hand, toxins that lead to God only knows what dangers; on the other hand, a few bucks.

I'm no clean freak, and I'm no slouch. I'd say I'd buy two, maybe three, bottles of all-purpose cleaner per year, the way it lasts. So, for the price of some grande triple mocha something, I can save the Earth and make my counter sparkle. A deal I am proud to call my own.

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My personal comments:
I totally agree with this author or else I wouldn't give her the space on my blog. One thing I don't agree with is the price of the products. I happen to know of a great company that manufactures green and clean products for your home and family. If you would like more info please send me an e-mail or go to my website and fill out the get more info. The company has over 400 products that you use on a regular basis and it won't break the bank. Actually, price comparisons show that they are more cost effective than the leading brands and as or more effective than those purchased in your local health store.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Time to take notice - it's about your health!

(Passing this on....check it out!)
It's about a medication that is familiar to many of us. Note also the FDA 's comments at the end of the message. Received this information from someone who recently lost their mother to one of these medications.
parently, this was caused by a medication that is deadly. Here are the details.
Subject: Phenylpropanolamine (PPA)

I would like to thank those of you who expressed condolences on the recent passing of my mother. She suffered a hemorrhagic stroke while she was driving home from my house on 7/30 and passed away on 8/3. My mother's stroke and passing was an enormous shock to my family because she did not have any symptoms or risk factors for a stroke. Just the week before she had gone to her doctor for a check up and received a clean bill of health. She did, however, develop a cold while she was visiting me and had taken Alka Seltzer Cold Plus for 3 days. Since her passing, we have learned that Alka Seltzer is one of the many cold medicines that contains Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) which can cause hemorrhagic stokes or cerebral bleeding even with the first use. I am forwarding a list of other medications that currently use PPA. These medicines are supposedly being recalled but my mother just purchased this medication less than two weeks ago. Pharmaceutical companies have known about this danger for years, we unfortunately, did not.

I urge you to review the list of medicines with PPA and avoid these medications. All drugs containing PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE are dangerous. You may want to try calling the 800 number listed on most drug boxes and inquire about a REFUND. Please read this CAREFULLY. Also, please pass this on to everyone you know. STOP TAKING anything containing this ingredient. It has been linked to increased hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in brain) among women ages 18-49 in the three days after starting use of medication. Problems were not found in men, but the FDA recommended that everyone (even children) seek alternative medicine.

The following medications contain Phenylpropanolamine:
Acutrim Diet Gum Appetite Suppressant
Acutrim Plus Dietary Supplements
Acutrim Maximum Strength Appetite Control
Alka-Seltzer Plus Children's Cold Medicine Effervescent
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold medicine (cherry or or ange)
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine Original
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Medicine Effervescent
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Flu Medicine
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Sinus Effervescent
Alka Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine
BC Allergy Sinus Cold Powder
BC Sinus Cold Powder
Comtrex Flu Therapy & Fever Relief
Day & Night Contac 12-Hour Cold Capsules
Contac 12 Hour Caplets
Coricidin D Cold, Flu & Sinus
Dexatrim Caffeine Free
Dexatrim Extended Duration
Dexatrim Gelcaps
Dexatrim Vitamin C/Caffeine Free
Dimetapp Cold & Allergy Chewable Tablets
Dimetapp Cold & Cough Liqui-Gels
Dimetapp DM Cold & Cough Elixir
Dimetapp Elixir
Dimetapp 4 Hour Liquid Gels
Dimetapp 4 Hour Tablets
Dimetapp 12 Hour Extentabs Tablets
Naldecon DX Pediatric Drops
Permathene Mega-16
Robitussin CF
Tavist-D 12 Hour Relief of Sinus & Nasal Congestion

Triaminic DM Cough Rel! ief
Triaminic Expectorant Chest & Head
Triaminic Syrup ! ! Cold & amp;am p; Allergy
Triaminic Triaminicol Cold & Cough

I just found out and called the 800# on the container for Triaminic and they informed me that they are voluntarily recalling the following medicines because of a certain ingredient that is causing strokes and seizures in children:

Orange 3D Cold & Allergy Cherry (Pink)
3D Cold & Cough
3D Cough Relief Yellow 3D Expectorant

They are asking you to call them at 800-548-3708 with the lot number on the box so they can send you postage for you to send it back to them, and they will also issue you a refund. If you know of anyone else with small children,

To confirm these findings please take time to check the following:

Work At Home United