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Request for feedback: My starter list of ways for people to avoid toxic chemicals

I recently finished reading Count Down by Shanna H. Swan & Stacey Colino (2020) which is about how toxic chemicals including endocrine disrupting chemicals are damaging our health including our sexual health. I am brand-new to this subject and I was shocked by how much harm we are doing to ourselves. As I was reading the book I was noting down recommendations by the authors for how to avoid toxic chemicals with an eye towards writing some kind of list I could share with my family & friends.

After reading the book I felt like a "starter list" would be best to focus on "Do's & don't's" as the easiest entry point. Then if people are interested enough, they can take the next step of finding healthy natural organic alternatives.

So below is my starter list of ways for people to avoid toxic chemicals. I would love your feedback and critique if you have the time & energy? I am especially interested about whether any of my suggestions below are wrong or out of date?

Thank you

  • Only use cleaning products that have ingredients you can identify e.g. water, vinegar, baking soda, essential oils. Look for home-made cleaner recipes online.
  • Don't use or purchase carpets, indoor mats, or rugs that are treated with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Good alternatives to carpets include solid wood, tile, cork or natural linoleum flooring
  • If you do choose to have carpet, opt for natural materials
  • When selecting area rugs, choose wool or natural plant materials. Look for materials such as jute, seagrass or sisal, and natural rubber nonskid padding.
  • Use low-VOC adhesives to install carpets
  • Regardless of flooring, use doormats and don't wear shoes indoors. Taking off your shoes will prevent tracking in dirt and pollutants.
  • Avoid stain or waterproofing treatments on your carpets
  • Vacuum all carpets and rugs thoroughly using a machine with a HEPA filter at least once a week
  • Don't use shoe polishes and carpet cleaners containing trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Wipe surfaces of dust using a wet cloth or mop
  • Don't use plastic containers for food storage. Use glass, stainless steel, ceramic, or porcelain containers with tops or aluminium foil.
  • Never reheat food in plastic in the microwave. Transfer it to a plate or a bowl.
  • Don't use nonstick cookware. Switch to cast-iron pots & pans or stainless steel. Also consider ceramic, porcelain, anodized aluminium cookware, or glass bakeware.
  • Only drink water that has already been filtered for toxic chemicals & microplastics
  • Use glass or stainless steel for drink bottles
  • Avoid black plastic cooking utensils
  • Don't use a plastic reusable cup or a bamboo reusable cup. Choose a stainless steel, ceramic, porcelain or glass reusable cup.
  • Eat a home-cooked fresh food diet. Choose fresh ingredients such as loose fruit and loose vegetables. Buy from bulk stores where you can refill your own containers.
  • Buy organic seasonal locally-grown food
  • if you are unable to buy organic food 100% of the time, avoid eating non-organic products which contain the highest amounts of pesticide residues such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and apples
  • Avoid packaged food or drink such as plastic bottles, food wrapped in plastic wrap, takeaways in fast food containers, food packaged in greaseproof lining, canned foods, packaging labelled with recycling codes 3 or 7
  • Reduce your consumption of canned food
  • Don't eat fast food
  • Don't eat microwave popcorn
  • Don't drink out of cans
  • To avoid exposure to dioxins (a harmful chemical) eat a vegan diet. More than 90% of human exposure to dioxins is through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish.
  • If you do want to eat meat, avoid processed meat. Choose hormone-free beef and hormone-free dairy.
  • If you do want to eat fish, choose fish with the lowest toxic chemical content
  • Use period products that are plastic-free, unscented, and labelled "totally chlorine free (TCF)"
  • Where possible use reusable period products such as silicon cups, reusable pads, reusable tampon applicators, and period pants/period underwear
  • Don't use anti-mold paints in the home
  • Don't wear face masks and other personal protective equipment containing nanographene and other nanoparticles
  • Buy non-toxic sunscreen and non-toxic baby sunscreen
  • Buy children's toys that are labelled phthalate-free, PVC-free, BPA-free, BPS-free, and BPF-free
  • Avoid children's toys that smell strongly of chemicals or are heavily scented.
  • Avoid soft plastic children's toys, as these can contain endocrine disruptors like phthalates.
  • Choose natural rubber children's toys
  • If a children's toy is painted or treated with varnish or other coatings, make sure it is non-toxic, free from lead, and meant for children
  • When furnishing the playroom, include natural materials whenever possible. Choose wooden tables and chairs, with cushions if desired, and baskets, rather than plastic bins, to hold children's toys and art supplies
  • Unpack any new children's toy and leave it outdoors to let some of the hazardous chemicals evaporating
  • Buy solid wooden children's toys with as few glued parts as possible
  • Buy unvarnished and painted children's toys wherever possible or watch out for non-toxic and natural finishes
  • Don't buy school uniforms that have PFAS-based stain resistance (check the labels before you buy)
  • Don't use face paint with toxic ingredients on children
  • Buy nappies that are chemical free. Opt for organic cotton, fragrance-free, and reusable nappies
  • Don't use personal care or beauty products that contain toxic chemicals. Buy certified 100% organic products packaged in glass or ceramic jars that are labelled paraben free, fragrance free, and perfume free.
  • Use PFAS-free dental floss
  • When buying abroad or online, be aware the same product can contain harmful chemicals depending on where you buy it
  • If you live outside the EU, choose products that are sold in the EU. The EU has the strictest chemical regulations in the world, and so these cosmetics may have fewer harmful chemicals in them.
  • Don't use nail varnish and nail remover
  • Don't purchase or use products with the ingredients 'fragrance' or 'parfum'
  • Don't use vinyl shower curtains
  • Don't use scented candles or antibacterial soap
  • Don't use air fresheners
  • Purchase items & products that are free of PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) and other harmful plastics
  • Buy products free of free of flame-retardant chemicals and toxic adhesives (such as those containing formaldehyde)
  • Choose natural-wood tables and cabinets that are made without synthetic wood or particleboard
  • Buy organic-cotton mattress pads, not ones with the plastic barriers that will release their own chemicals into the air
  • Don't buy clothes that are treated with fluorinated chemicals called PFAS to make them waterproof or stain resistant
  • Don't use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilisers
  • Use organic fertiliser (home-made or store-bought) e.g. use grass clippings as fertiliser on your lawn
  • Avoid handling till receipts as much as possible
  • Don't put till receipts in the recycling bin – because they can contaminate the entire recycling stream

  • Check suspect ingredients in hair sprays, nail polishes, hair dyes, shampoos, body wash products, body creams, moisturisers, make-ups, soaps, lipsticks, deodorants, antiperspirants, cleaning products, and fragrances against the SIN List (https://sinlist.chemsec.org/).

  • As a rule it's best to avoid products labelled as having anti-microbial properties
  • Use mobile apps to identify toxic chemicals: In Germany, France and the UK, you can use apps to identify cosmetics containing chemicals that you should avoid. In Germany, use Tox Fox, in France use Clean Beauty, and in the UK try Giki (https://gikibadges.com/).

Rufous McKinney

Senior Member
I recently finished reading Count Down by Shanna H. Swan & Stacey Colino (2020) which is about how toxic chemicals including endocrine disrupting chemicals are damaging our health including our sexual health.

In the early 1970s, many of us had the book: how to make all your own safe cleaning and cosmetic products.

I commend your list! Its sad- how we have really compromised our health and the planet in the process over such trivial things as temporary padding under our feet.

Being on the planet is about choices. Its a major theme. so coops were founded, we could put the beans into our own container and take it home. Reuse the shampoo bottle. I now live where there is no coop, and the store where you refilled the shampoo bottles got bought by Hollywood, no more refilling.

Do you intend to do a blog or post this somewhere?

vision blue

Senior Member
For carpetting, ive heard better advice is to avoid all carpeting requiring adhesives, not just to use “low VOC”!
(So just staples or use area rufs)

For vinyl, its mot just vinyl shower curtains, but anything vinyl- eg flooring tiles, window frwnes. They take 5 years to offgas

Avoid MDF - you do mention real wood only, but dont nention mdf by name which is used alot now (mediium debsity fibreboard)- lots of formaldehyde

For houses, manufa tured houlses, loaded with chemicals And houses starting 1970 or so started having lots

Matteress buying is hard becauxe if want zero flame protection, you need a doctors script (in the US). If ykur ok with wool or latex then yku can do it without

For sofas, thwy no longer are required by law to have added flame retardants- but many do And most use formaldehyde glue.

You didnt mention wrinkle free sheets. They can be a problem for sone- acrylic resins.

Paint now is available as zero VoC

House buying hard becaause so many flippers and others do “just updated”. Toxins galore. Fake wood flooring, paint etc.

Flying in airplanes causes all sorts of odd chemicals to show up in blood

Dont kive within 1 mile of a higgway/big road

You also left off i think commercial laundry detergents and dryer sheets

It goes on and on- cant get away.

Being chemically sensitive, i can often detect stuff that otherw don't even notice.

When itw so compkex tho, most people just shut down

For a starter list why not pick 5 things everyone can do?


Psalm 46:1-3
Great Lakes
I believe I read that non-organic strawberries are also high in pesticides. Plus, I think it is better to eat antibiotic free meats (and eggs) whenever possible--for one thing, they just taste fresher. Also watch aluminum and nickel. (I think nickel can be in stainless steel products.)

Oh, and the onion powder and garlic powder that are not organic have something concentrated on them that make me sick as a dog within about 5 minutes of using them. I suspect it's fungicides they use on them that get even more concentrated when they dry them.

Also try not to have a gas stove if you suspect petroleum sensitivities. I still have to use gas dryer, furnace, and hot water heater but at least they are downstairs. When my BIL hooked up my gas stove again, I got so so sick.

vision blue

Senior Member
So maybe
Beginner step:
1) Get in habit of taking shoes off and on at door
2) Air out home once a week

Intermediate step
3) Vow to substitute more organic fruite and vegetables

4) But some spray bottles and try making your own simple cleaning products

5) start evaluating and reducing sources of formaldehyde, plastics, flame retardants, vinyl, and stain resistant fabrics.

@vision blue,

Thank you for your reply. And thank you for your many excellent suggestions, I am going to add them to my list.

I agree with you with regards to housebuying being hard. Because I am only just learning about the dangers of toxic chemicals this year, I have only just recently learnt that choosing to get stain resistant carpeting for my home three years ago was a bad choice :nervous:

I think you make a really excellent point about this topic being complex. And I think something like a "beginner's top five" is a really excellent suggestion. I'm definitely going to do this :thumbsup:
Thank you for everyone's feedback. I really appreciated it.

Just in case anyone is interested, these are the three blog posts that I ended up producing:

Top 6 Beginner’s Tips For Reducing Toxic Chemicals In Your Life https://daveunderwood.wordpress.com...ps-for-reducing-toxic-chemicals-in-your-life/

The Top 10 Intermediate Tips To Reducing Toxic Chemicals In Your Life https://daveunderwood.wordpress.com...ips-to-reducing-toxic-chemicals-in-your-life/

The Big Checklist For Avoiding Toxic Chemicals https://daveunderwood.wordpress.com/2021/05/19/the-big-checklist-for-avoiding-toxic-chemicals/