Living in the Age of Toxins

Feeling like a slug? Could be that you’re filled with sludge!

We’re drowning in a chemical soup – convenience, consumerism and immediate gratification has us eating, breathing and wearing toxic man-made chemicals.

Our bodies simply cannot utilize these synthetic chemicals or purge them quickly enough before they accumulate and have the potential to wreak havoc on us, says Dr. Janet Newman, author of Living in the Chemical Age.

And we need to think about how our actions are impacting life in the future, says Newman. “The ancient Iroquois had a philosophy called the Seventh Generation Principle: Each decision we make today should result in a sustainable world for seven generations (or about 140 years) into the future. So in order to protect and quit harming our beautiful planet, I think it would be wise for people to adopt that philosophy.”

According to Newman, there are chemicals all around us – some good, some bad, some natural, some manmade. But more than ever before in our history, we are inundated with toxic, manmade chemicals in our food, water, air, cleaning products, personal care products and pharmaceuticals. “To make matters more concerning, we have approximately 85,000 chemicals on the market today and only a few hundred of those have ever been tested for safety. Since the majority of these chemicals can’t be seen or smelled, and many don’t require labelling, most people are unaware of their existence, let alone their impact.”

Some experts estimate that we are exposed to 250 pounds of chemicals on a daily basis. Take Bisphenol A (BPA), for example, and its chemical cousins (BPS and BPM). These bisphenols are endocrine disrupting chemicals and are often used interchangeably. They can be found in many kinds of plastics, thermal cash register receipts and in the lining of aluminum cans, says Newman, adding that these Bisphenols act like chemical hormones in the body and are linked to various cancers, breathing problems, reproductive problems, diabetes and heart disease.

Toxins are everywhere and it takes effort to protect ourselves. Many are microscopic so out of sight out of mind! But health should be front and centre. “Unfortunately many people don’t really think about preventing toxic exposure until they, or someone in their family, get sick.”

Newman is out to get people focussing on reducing the toxic burden. “When we take in more toxins than we are able to eliminate, they accumulate, causing bodily warning signs such as inflammation, weight gain, headaches, and skin problems. Eventually the body rebels, opening the door to disease.”

And think beyond yourself: Smog and air pollution are not only a threat to our lungs but also to some of our most iconic structures, such as the once-white Taj Mahal and the Egyptian Pyramids. Let’s not forget about the shameful Great Pacific Garbage Patch off the coast of California – it is now twice the size of Texas and comprised of mostly plastic. Some experts estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans, by weight!



Here are the top 10 common household threats and an ounce of prevention, according to Dr. Janet Newman, of

  • – There can be numerous contaminants in our drinking water, including things like lead, chloramine, chromium-6, 1,4-dioxane and perchlorate. Have your water tested and use a good filtration system. Otherwise, your body will be the filter.
  • – Plastic water bottles are made from PET plastic. PET is an endocrine disrupting plastic, which can affect your hormones. Carry your filtered water from home in a portable glass or stainless steel bottles instead of buying plastic bottled water.
  • – There are over 3,000 indirect additives with obscure chemical names that can be used in packaging. Everything from adhesives to nonstick coatings. These are never listed on the label. Cut down on packaged foods. Buy food items in glass jars as opposed to plastic whenever possible.
  • – Plastic cooking utensils get hot and melt, leaching chemicals into your food. Use utensils made from food-safe silicone instead.
  • – Conventional strawberries contain the most pesticides and chemicals of any fruit. Buy organic strawberries and become familiar with the Dirty Dozen, a list of conventional produce to avoid, produced by the Environmental Working Group (
  • – Conventional coffee crops are sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Only drink organic coffee.
  • – Cooking food that contains tomatoes or citrus inside an aluminum pan or foil can cause the aluminum to leach into your food. Opt for safe cookware such as stainless steel or unbleached parchment paper.
  • – The insect repellent, DEET, can melt plastic and damage paint. Just what is it doing to your body? In people, it can cause allergic reactions, brain swelling, blisters and mood changes. Choose a more natural insect repellent.
  • – White paper production – think paper towels, toilet paper, napkins – includes a chlorine bleaching process that forms dioxin as a by-product, which is one of the most toxic chemicals known. Choose unbleached (or at least chlorine-free) paper or bamboo disposable products.
  • – Dry cleaned clothing release a chemical called PERC, which has been classified as a likely human carcinogen. If you can’t find an eco-friendly dry cleaner in your area, at least remove the protective plastic covering on your clothes before coming into the house and let the clothes breathe for an hour or so before bringing them inside.

-Joanne Richard, Toronto Sun

Originally published May 25th, 2018

By | 2018-05-30T16:14:49+00:00 May 30th, 2018|Articles|