What does toxin-free really mean?

Choosing toxin-free products should be a no brainer, right? But with all the marketing hype, it can be confusing when it comes to choosing healthy and eco-friendly products.

What does toxin-free mean?

A toxin is “a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation”.

However, many chemicals — either naturally occurring or man-made — can be poisonous. These are called ‘toxic chemicals’; but many of us refer to them as toxins as well.

So, by definition, a toxin-free product would mean that the product is free from any natural or man-made poisons, that will have a negative impact upon our health.

Where are toxins found?

Short answer… everywhere!

They’re in the oceans, waterways and our soil. They occur in our food, our cleaning products, and our toiletries. They’re in our building products and our furnishings. They’re also in the air we breathe. And get this — studies have shown that the pollutant levels inside your home may be 2 to 5 times higher than outside!

Yep! Alarmingly, the average person receives 72% of their total toxic chemical exposure at home!

If we gave you a list of all the nasty toxins in the products we buy, we’d be here all day, and we know you’ve got other things to do. But it’s not uncommon for compounds such as Lead, Methylmercury, Arsenic, Pesticides, Chlorine, Sodium hydroxide, Sodium Laurel Sulphate, and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) to be present in the products that we buy.

What are the health risks of toxins?

These terrible toxins pose some significant health risks, including:

  • Rashes and skin irritations
  • Eye irritations, permanent eye damage, or blindness
  • Headaches
  • Chemical burns
  • Breathing difficulties, or even damage to the respiratory tract

Most alarming however is the serious effects they can have on your kids’ brains.

Your little ones’ brains are incredibly vulnerable as they grow and develop. Exposure to toxins can have devastating effects, even at levels that would have very little or no effect on adults. Notably, research has shown that exposure can cause permanent damage to the brain, which can lead to:

  • Low IQ
  • Delayed development
  • Reduced cognitive functioning
  • Attention deficit and ADHD
  • Hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour
  • Shorter attention span and impaired social interactions
  • Diminished intellectual function
  • Poor school performance
  • Neurological disease in adulthood
  • Increased risk of psychiatric diagnosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

What are the environmental risks of toxins?

The risk to our planet Scientists now classify planet Earth as ‘toxic’, as more than 250 billion tonnes of chemical substances are emitted each year, doing countless damage to plant and animal life.

Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that every year, 12.6 million people — that’s nearly 25% — of the global population die due to living or working in an unhealthy environment. Yikes! In addition, WHO believes that pollution (air, soil and water), chemical exposure, climate change and ultraviolet radiation contribute to over 100 diseases and injuries.

Do we really want to leave that legacy for our kids?

How can you avoid toxins?

While all the evidence is not in — there are still many chemicals that are in use which have not been tested for human safety — we know enough to be seriously concerned for the health of our family and our planet. But if these toxins are everywhere, is there anything we can do?

Hell yes! Remember the statistic we shared earlier? About receiving 72% of our total toxic chemical exposure at home? Simply choosing cleaner, greener products will make a huge impact on the health of you and your family. On a broader scale, the more we boycott toxins and choose healthier alternatives, the more manufacturers will listen. After all, money talks!

Ways to make a positive change include:

It also pays to be aware of the ingredients in your products. Even if they’re not listed on the item itself, many companies now list them online.

By making changes to our personal behaviour, we each have the power to reduce a toxic future. As a collective, we have the ability to influence supply chains and encourage new, sustainable solutions for our future generations.

Phys OrgWorld Health OrganisationMerriam WebsterMarie ClaireThe LancetForbesGriffith University
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Nerissa Bentley

Nerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based health writer and blogger. As a mum of 2 (a teenager and a pre-teen), she understands the challenges involved in raising children, balancing work, and making time for yourself. Through her writing, she aims to inspire and empower families to live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives. Nerissa is also working on her first novel. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her reading, drinking coffee, lifting weights, or enjoying the odd sneaky red wine.

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