Jul 5, 2015

Household toxicity is deadly for you and your pets.

It is extremely beneficial that we have now discovered that simple things we lived with on a daily basis or extremely toxic to us and to our pets. They include household cleaners, gardening products, furnishings, and much much more. I've created a list here of some common products used that primarily focuses on pets, because I provide interior design solutions for clients whose   households  often have multiple dogs and cats. Their lungs are smaller, their bodies are closer to the ground, and because of their size, the toxicity of most of these products is significantly higher than to humans.

1. Driveway Sealant

If you’re looking to seal your driveway, you may not have considered safety. Coal-tar sealants which are very common, contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which studies suggest can be toxic, causing cancer or other genetic mutations in your body and that of your pets. When rainwater and other precipitation hit your driveway, the toxic chemicals run off into your yard and into your local drinking water supply. Pets walking on wet drive ways, licking their paws or drinking from puddles will be put at risk.

Alternative: A gravel driveway enables rainwater to seep through and into the ground safely and naturally. If your paved driveway must be sealed make sure that it is not coal-tar based. The bigger stores have already banned them, but read the label!!

2. Synthetic Pesticides

Whether for insects, weeds, fungus or molds, pesticides are designed to kill something. Our dogs are at risk simply due to their proximity to the yard and garden in which they are used.

 Alternatives: Clean up food and crumbs from the floor and seal food in storage should avoid most interior pests. Take a walk around your home and seal any entry points to also help to protect your home. For insects on plants, make a basic homemade bug killer by mixing 2 tbsp. (29.6 ml) of liquid soap with 1 quart (.946 liter) of water.  I keep mine in my kitchen and walk out the door with the spray bottle for aphids, whitefly, white mold, and black mold,  For a healthy green lawn, research organic solutions to lawn maintenance. Healthy grass has deep, thick roots that choke out weeds. Consider an alternative to lawns altogether by planting native flowers and plants.  Has become a must in California which is been a state in severe drought conditions for many years.  Choosing native plants generally means less maintenance as they are best suited to your area by their very nature. 

3. Cleaning Products

It’s a contradiction to “clean” something with toxins that may trigger respiratory issues, cause cancer and skin irritation. Is it really clean if you had to wear gloves to place it on a surface? Your pet won’t have a choice while he’s walking around your home. Alternative: Vinegar! 1:9 ratio to water will kill 90% of bacteria and many spores. Increase the ratio for cleaning glass to 1:1. It is completely safe for your pets to come into contact with. 

Cleaners labeled “safe,” “non-toxic” and “green” can contain hazardous ingredients. Here are the top commonly used and misleadingly NOT non toxic.

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

Although it is labeled “non-toxic” and “biodegradable.” It contains:

  • 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates eyes;
  • A secret blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants. Some members of this chemical family are banned in the European Union.

The company website instructs the user to dilute the product significantly for even the heaviest cleaning tasks. Yet it comes in a spray bottle that implies it should be sprayed full-strength. Such use would result in higher exposures.

Citra-Solv Cleaner & Degreaser

These concentrated liquids and ready-to-use sprays contain d-limonene and orange oils from citrus peels. According to the company’s worker safety disclosure, Citra-Solv concentrate is 85 to 95 percent d-limonene. That the oils are derived from citrus implies safety, but sprayed into the air, they can react with trace levels of ozone air pollution to form ultra-fine particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and formaldehyde, which the U.S. government classifies as a known human carcinogen. The California Air Resources Board advises people to limit the use of citrus- or pine oil-based cleaners on smoggy days to avoid exposure to particulates and formaldehyde.

Banned abroad

Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner

This product contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, which the state of California has banned in cleaning products manufactured after 2012. Products containing this chemical cannot be sold in the European Union. It breaks down to nonylphenol, which can disrupt the hormone system, is toxic to aquatic life and persists in the environment.

Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner

It contains DEGME, also called methoxydiglycol, at up to 15 times the concentration allowed in cleaners sold in the European Union. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says DEGME is “suspected of damaging the unborn child.” 

 Fatal if swallowed

When is a clean house worth this risk?

Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Lime & Rust Remover

This corrosive acid concoction kills bacteria but is also labeled “harmful or fatal if swallowed.” The cleaner’s child-proof cap is an important safety feature. The label warns not to squeeze the container when opening and to wear safety goggles. A bit of this acid in the eye can cause “irreversible damage.”

2000 Flushes and X-14 toilet bowl cleaners

These chlorine-laden discs don’t harm plumbing or septic systems, but according to the label they “may be fatal if swallowed.” The boxes warn customers to wear rubber gloves when handling, hold the disc away from the face and avoid inhaling the fumes. A pet could confuse a disc with a plastic chew toy. Not only that, many pets drink from the toilet, and this is extremely toxic. 

4. Food Storage

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a hormone disrupting chemical linked to male infertility, diabetes and heart disease. Canned food, plastic storage or feeding bowls can leach BPA into your dogs food or water. While it’s been banned from children’s products, pet products are slower to change.

 Alternatives: Stainless steel feeding bowls and glass storage containers will protect your pets. They’re also environmentally friendly!

5. Synthetic Fragrances

Chemical fragrances can be found throughout every home and almost every product. While everyone loves a “fresh scent”, that chemically induced scent is dangerous. Chemicals used are known to be carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and reproductive toxicants, even at low levels.

 Alternatives: Always select unscented. In the end, general household cleaning and good ventilation will win out every time.
Clearly anytime your pet has been  exposed  to toxic chemicals veterinary visit - or at minimum connecting to the poison control center – is important. 
Animal Poison Control Center
The ASPCA is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

On a regular basis, there are some things you can do to help you eliminate toxins from your pet. Do your research. Homeopathy and herbal products are appropriate if there is no contraindication for medication your dog is already taking.  Here are a few tips to help your dog overcome toxic pesticide overload.
  • Milk Thistle has been safely used for years to help the liver detoxify and repair itself. The tincture form is the best to use for dogs as it may be digested more readily than the dried herb. The typical recommended amount to feed is 1/4 tsp per 20 pounds.
  • Herbs including dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, red clover, Oregon grape and turmeric.
  • Beneficial intestinal bacteria. Look for soil based probiotics like Primal Defense instead of dairy based products.
  • Proper Nutrition. The faster food moves through the digestive tract, the less likely it is for toxins to be absorbed into the body (not to mention harmful bacteria). Kibble and carbohydrate-laden diets require a change in the pH in your dog’s stomach and slow digestion down. A raw meat diet will move through his digestive tract in about half the time – and meat is less likely to be laced with pesticides than grains and vegetables.
  • Exercise.  Regular exercise and panting will increase blood flow through your dog’s body and this will help expel toxins. Exercise will also help control his weight. Weight control is important as fat cells tend to store toxins.

Keeping your dog healthy involves more than just a healthy diet. Limiting his exposure to avoidable pesticides and helping him to detox on a regular basis will help decrease his toxin load and lessen the harmful effects of pesticide exposure.