Household neurotoxins have been coming up for me more and more in conversation and in my research lately. And while I knew obviously this was a toxin I wanted to avoid, I needed to know more about why and exactly how to do it.
Even in my own home and family, I’m still actively working to reduce toxins every day, including household neurotoxins that can negatively impact not only me, but my kids. And I think that is the bigger why for me — my family’s health and wellness.
It’s important to have that “why” when it comes to changing things and habits in your home. Without a reason to do so — and a strong reason — we often slip back into our old ways. And sometimes, we don’t change things until it’s completely necessary — perhaps after a diagnosis or illness.
But if we can use that self discipline we have and change things BEFORE we have to, we can avoid a potentially uncomfortable period of time in our lives. Not that everything is unavoidable, but if we take precautions now and make our space healthier TODAY, we may avoid some of the negative impacts that come with toxins in our home.
This post is a good one — we’re talking about
- What a neurotoxin even is,
- How a neurotoxin can negatively impact your health
- How to get rid of household neurotoxins right away and in the future
- And how to support your nervous system in the meantime.
WHAT IS A NEUROTOXIN?
I think that the word neurotoxins has become used more and more in the past year or so and sometimes when this happens we just gloss over the specifics of this toxin, and mentally put it in a category of “I don’t know why, but it’s bad.”
I firmly believe that the best way to start changing your home is to understand some of the specific toxins that we’re trying to get rid of. Once you understand what the toxin is and how it impacts your health and wellness, it is SO much easier to find a new product or create a new habit to reduce this particular toxin.
Neurotoxins are substances that alter the function of the nervous system. Specifically, they alter the function that the nervous system has in communicating with our bodies. Currently there are over 1,000 chemicals that are known to have an impact on the nervous system of animals and humans.
Usually, neurotoxins enter the body from environmental sources and typically interrupt normal cell communication within the nervous system. They are typically absorbed through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact and can either have long term impacts or through disruption in the nervous system, or even immediate impacts.
And of course not all neurotoxins are the same, they can affect the nerve function differently based on the toxicity of the substance. The impact they have can also be dependent on the individual’s age and health who has come into contact with them.
HOW HOUSEHOLD NEUROTOXINS IMPACT YOUR HEALTH
While it should be understood that household neurotoxins impact the normal communication between cells in the nervous system, it might be helpful to know some more specific ways that our nervous system is negatively impacted by household neurotoxins:
Brain Inflammation: Neurotoxins can affect the brain in different ways, but one of the ways is by interfering with three functions that can result in inflammation: interfering with mitochondrial function (this is the powerhouse of the human cell that creates fuel for the rest of the cell), increased oxidative stress (the balance between production of free radicals the ability for the body to detoxify their harmful components) and deregulating protein turnover (this is the continual renewal or replacement of protein). (SOURCE)
Increased Risk of Disease: Diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis are neuroimmune diseases that interrupt the nervous system’s responses. Occupational neurotoxins and environmental toxins play a role in these diseases, and added exposure at home can also contribute to the increased risk of these diseases in the future.
Decreased Immune Function: Due to direct damage to the brain tissue or damage to the blood-brain barrier that household neurotoxins cause, it can lead to pollutants entering and accumulating in the brain. This in turn can directly impact the immune system, causing inflammation and changing the immune system cells. (SOURCE)
Poor Cognitive Function: Neurotoxins negatively impact the brain by damaging cells at various levels. This damage can lead to reduced cognitive function in adults and poor cognitive development in children. This can look like trouble remembering new things, difficulty concentrating or making decisions that affect their everyday life in adults. And in children it can mean limitations in their communication skills that are age appropriate. It can also mean limited social skills or inability to develop skills to care for themselves.
HOUSEHOLD NEUROTOXINS YOU COULD REMOVE TODAY
Air Fresheners: Anything with fragrance generally contains neurotoxins. Phthalates are found in fragrance compounds, which are considered to be “trade secret” and so the specifics are often unknown. These toxins as well as chemical sensitizers that are added to products both have been classified as neurotoxins that negatively impact the brain. Imagine how you could detox your space if you got rid of scented candles, air fresheners, wax melts or air sprays? It’s a huge source for your home’s toxic load that can easily be avoided.
Toxic House Dust: I often think that toxic house dust contains a bit of everything from around our house — including household neurotoxins. Flame retardants and stain treatments on our furniture end up in our dust, which then ends up in and around our house. Dust can be inhaled into our lungs as well as ingested when it begins to accumulate. Make a point to reduce dust by using a wet cloth to dust (or these amazing dusting mitts that I live by) and then use a HEPA filter vacuum to get to all the places that collect dust. The Shark Navigator Lift Away is my Healthy House Approved vacuum of choice.
Stop Using Plastic Straws & Water Bottles: Bisphenol toxins (which are used to replace BPA) are in almost all plastic containers and materials. Bisphenol toxins negatively impact the brain and can stay in the body for very long periods of time. Ditch all your plastic straws and water bottles today and make a plan for purchasing just one stainless steel or glass water bottle this week. Often we all have way too many water bottles in our house, and really all we each need is just one or two per person.
HOUSEHOLD NEUROTOXINS YOU COULD REMOVE THIS MONTH
Water Contaminants: Many heavy metals that can be in either your plumbing lines or ground water sources can leach into your water. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic are also toxins that cause neurotoxicity. A simple solution of a water filter can be a highly effective solution. And remember that anything is better than nothing. Aim to have drinking water filtered and then plan to increase to a whole house filter, like Aquasana.
Shower Curtain Liner: Shower curtain liners are typically made with PVC, which is a household neurotoxin. It consists of BPAs, ethylene dichloride and phthalates that all off gas in the warm, humid environment of your shower. Plan to replace your shower curtain liner with a natural hemp liner that naturally dries quickly to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softeners: Make the switch this month! Fabric softeners and dryer sheets often contain benzyl acetate and ethanol which damage the nervous system and cause disruption to the brain cells. You an ditch them altogether or use a healthy house approved laundry fabric softener and wool dryer balls.
Particulate Matter: Make it a goal to get a high quality air purifier this month. This will help reduce the particulate matter around your home, which has been linked to neurotoxicity in a variety of studies. Particulate matter in the home can contain toxins from asphalt, pesticides, flame retardants and even mold spores. Getting a good air purifier will help reduce these toxins from your home and space. My healthy house pick is Medify Air Purifiers, which are extremely high quality and totally affordable. Plus they gave us a discount code for $15 off a purchase (HHOTB15).
HOUSEHOLD NEUROTOXINS YOU COULD REMOVE THIS YEAR
Toxic Vinyl Flooring or Synthetic Carpet: Vinyl flooring contains PVC toxins, which is made up of phthalates and a slew of other materials that can off gas VOCs into the air, some of which are neurotoxins that are inhaled. And synthetic carpet contains flame retardants and topical treatments that can both contain neurotoxins that end up in our dust at home. Create a plan to replace flooring — which, yes, I know is a big ask. But flooring is such a huge surface area in our home that it can very quickly reduce big toxins around your space. Use the Healthy Home Blueprint to plan out your project and you’ll be set when it comes time to complete the work.
Non-Stick Pans: The PFOAs in non-stick pans off-gasses and can also leach toxins into your food. It’s convenient to have a non-stick, but if you can learn to cook with a stainless steel pain, cast iron skillet or Xtrema pots and pans, you’ll be removing a huge source of neurotoxins from your home. Plan ahead for this purchase as pots and pans can be a pricey upgrade. And then watch for sales.
Toxic Mattress: Flame retardants are in most mattresses and they’ve been labeled as a neurotoxin to both adults and children. Make a plan to replace your mattress this year. I know it’s a big task, but budget what it would take to save up for an organic mattress and then continue to watch for sales this year. My top picks are Avocado Mattress and Naturepedic.
Replace Faucets with Lead Free Certified Faucets: This is another big project to plan for, but did you know that faucets are allowed to obtain lead in the waterway in the United States? It’s true. Kitchen and bathroom faucets where you brush teeth are perfect spots to invest in a lead free certified faucet such as Kraus Faucets. This means the waterway is guaranteed lead free and no lead will leach into your water.
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM IN THE MEANTIME
In the meantime, don’t forget that health is both reducing toxins that are negatively impacting your health, but also by being proactive to help along our systems. The nervous system is such an intricate system within our body and contributes greatly to our overall health and wellness. And the sad truth is that oftentimes we neglect this system. Here are some easy ways to support your nervous system to pair with these detoxing items:
Yoga & Stretching: Regular practice of yoga will help reduce cortisol levels, which in turn helps improve the health of the nervous system. The breathing done in yoga can also help activate the part of the nervous system that reduces the heart rate.
Chiropractic Care: This can help keep your spine appropriately aligned, allowing messages carried through the spine to be uninterrupted or slowed down. Regular adjustments can help your body receive these signals at the right times.
Balance Your Diet: Healthy fats and leafy greens that include good levels of B-12 and Vitamin D are essential for a healthy nervous system. And keeping these meals consistent and on a bit of a schedule can help too.
Sleep More: Sleep helps strengthen the circuits in the nervous system, which can then help with memory and overall body restoration. Aim for 7-8 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep per night to help support your nervous system.
While there are a number of toxins found in the home, some of the most concerning are ones that negatively impact our brain and nervous system. Make it a point to check the items off this list to detox your space from dangerous household neurotoxins over the next year.