Until recently, the risks to health tied to everyday toxicity weren’t talked about publicly, and so didn’t arouse any alarm among the people. However, in recent years scientific studies have borne testimony to the fact that several synthetic chemicals that get into our bodies with food, water, air, through contact with clothing and plastic wrap, and through washing and disinfectants are enormously dangerous to our health.

How are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) dangerous?

By degree of danger, medicine puts PCBs in a class with dioxin, long known as a toxic agent. Finding their way into people’s bodies, these persistent chemical compounds increase by many times the risk of cancer, diabetes, and stroke, lead to osteoporosis, lower testosterone levels in men, damage the immune and neurological systems of the fetus, cause neurodermatitis and eczema, impair memory, and decrease mental alertness. And despite the fact that as early as 1979 itwas forbidden in our country to introduce these chemical compounds into any kind of product, they still affect us negatively.

Where do the enemies hide?

By the time the ban came into effect, hundreds of millions of pounds of PCBs had been produced that were used during production of lubricants, condensers, power transformers, lacquersand paint, carbon copy paper, and various plastics. And these chemically bound compounds are stable environmental contaminants because they aren’t disposed of, but rather accumulate in the soil and in the water of lakes, rivers, and the oceans and continue to evaporate into the air. They accumulatein living organisms—fish, birds, and other animals, includingus—and begin destroying them.

How to counter them?

To minimize the effect of PCBs that are stored and accumulate in fatty tissue, try to keep your consumption of fatty meat, farmed fish, and shellfish to a minimum.

How are Phthalates and bisphenol A—BPA, EDCs dangerous?

These persistent chemical compounds are dangerous in that they destroy the endocrine system, which produces the hormones that regulate the work of all the tissues and organs in our bodies. The presence of these harmful substances in the body increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and infertility, and leads to erectile dysfunction, worsens vision, causes attention deficit disorder, lowers intelligence... As with PCBs, the list goes on.

Where do the enemies hide?

In most cases, phthalates are used to make plastic more flexible, transparent, and durable. It’s hard even to list the groups of products that may contain phthalates. They are adhesives, aromatic products, vinyl raincoats, window blinds, tablecloths, synthetic leather widely used in clothing and furniture, sunglasses and glasses with plastic lenses, various kinds of fillers and sealants, DVDs and CDs, product containers, plastic kitchen paraphernalia, and personal hygiene products such as soap, shampoos, moistening agents, hair sprays, and nail polish. Bisphenol—another endocrine-destroying chemical—is found in the lining of the containers of many canned food products and drinks. Note that due to consumer demand, many producers have switched from BPA to BPS (bisphenol S), but there is no proof that it’s less toxic. It’s only less studied.

How to counter them?

To minimize the effects of the phthalates and BPA, startby not believing that there are any safe plastics. Never use a microwave to heat food in plastic, even if the container is marked as “microwave safe.”* Avoid drinking water or other drinks in a one-time plastic container, even if the bottle is marked “No BPA.” Don’t put hot food into plastic containers, and in general don’t keep food in them. Try to use glass, ceramic, or non-rusting vessels.

Don’t use candles, air fresheners, washing agents, and personal hygiene products with aromatizers (“scented substance” as an ingredient is a sure sign that phthalates are present)! Avoid articles made of polyvinyl chloride (overcoats, raincoats, footwear, purses).

How are Perfluorinated compounds dangerous?

According to studies, PFCs are tied to increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular maladies, cancer, obesity, thyroid gland dysfunctions, weakened immune system, and infertility among both women and men.

Where do the enemies hide?

PFCs can be found in the packaging of food products, in anti-stick coating—in Teflon, plastic dishware, in waterproof raincoats and jackets, in synthetic furniture fabrics, in rugs, and also in coverings that are resistant to spotting, and in penetrants and treatments that are widely used in the automobile, electronic, and other kinds of industry.

How to counter them?

To minimize harmful effects, don’t use Teflon or other antistick cookware (in any case, do everything you can to avoid scrapes or spalling that release PFCs). Give preference to cookware made of stainless steel or thermoglass, and saute food in that kind of cookware—better than frying.

Don’t buy everyday chemicals and hygiene products in which ingredients are contained that begin with “perfluoro.” Avoid popcorn and pizza packages that are prepared in a microwave oven or are intended for heating in one, because the covering of the inner packaging may contain PFCs. When using frozen food intended for preparation or heating in a microwave, be sure to remove the food from its packaging before heating it in a microwave oven.

Don’t use clothing and furniture marked, “not harmed by spots” or clothing marked as water resistant: most of them contain PFCs.

If you think your health is your most important asset, take note of the following recommendations: because harmful chemical compounds can get into your body through water and air, get a high-quality filter for drinking water and use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA filter) to clean your home every week.