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Bernard-Henri Louvat
CEO & Founder of Tera. I am a serial technology entrepreneur and I occasionally write articles for our blog. Drop me a line at blouvat@hellotera.com if you feel like it!

Why Everyone Should Embrace a Non-Toxic Lifestyle

It’s never been more important to minimize your exposure to chemicals. Learn how the Tera app can help.

This article is the first in a multi-part guide to living a non-toxic lifestyle. The next four discuss Personal CareSkincareBeauty & Makeup, and Household Cleaning.

Chemical exposure has become an unavoidable reality in today’s world. Shockingly, newborns are now born with an astounding 287 chemicals already present in their bodies. Even our seemingly harmless tap water is laden with an average of 250 pollutants, encompassing everything from arsenic and lead to prescription drugs and agricultural toxins. Adding to the concern, more than 90% of cosmetics harbor heavy metals and chemicals that can disrupt hormones, impact fertility, and even fuel the development of cancer.

The repercussions of these toxic chemicals are far-reaching and devastating. They can lead to organ damage, weaken the immune system, trigger allergies or asthma, induce reproductive issues, cause birth defects, and even foster cancerous growths within the body.

The surge in chemical usage within everyday products over the past half-century is no mere coincidence. It coincides with the rise of corporate power, where lobbyists have unduly influenced our political landscape, prioritizing profit over public health and environmental preservation.

Simultaneously, we have witnessed a concerning rise in conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, childhood cancers, diabetes, and obesity. Such health crises cannot be simply attributed to genetic drift; they are intrinsically linked to our exposure to toxic chemicals.

Despite mounting evidence highlighting the infiltration of harmful chemicals into our daily routines, the interplay of powerful industry lobbies and a regulatory system that demands irrefutable evidence of harm before action is taken has created a challenging road towards meaningful change.

Consider the stark disparity between the European Cosmetics Regulation, which has effectively prohibited the use of 1,300 harmful chemicals in cosmetics, and the US, where only 11 such chemicals are banned or restricted. Consequently, substances like formaldehyde, a known carcinogen banned by the EU, can still be found in hair straightening treatments and nail polish within the US.

Similarly, parabens, linked to reproductive problems, remain unrestricted in the US despite being banned in the EU, lurking in skin and hair products. Shouldn’t taking care of our bodies be a daily ritual devoid of unnecessary risks?

Given this pressing reality, embracing a toxic-free lifestyle has become an imperative like never before. By safeguarding ourselves and our environment from harmful chemicals, we can strive for a healthier and more sustainable future.

What Does It Mean to Live a Non-Toxic Lifestyle?

Embracing a toxic-free lifestyle involves a conscious effort to eliminate as many harmful chemicals from our daily lives as possible. The goal is not to be perfect, as it’s simply impossible to eliminate our exposure to every single harmful substance, and stressing about it will do more harm than good. With increasing awareness about the prevalence of toxic substances, this lifestyle is gaining popularity among individuals seeking a healthier and safer environment, for them and their families.

Surprisingly, an average person is exposed to over 200 toxic chemicals even before stepping outside their home. These dangerous substances lurk not only in our food, beauty products and cleaning products but also in our furniture, toys, and household items. Regardless of where you currently stand on your non-toxic journey, identifying and avoiding all the harmful chemicals in your surroundings can be a daunting task.

Synthetic toxic chemicals seem to be omnipresent, infiltrating various aspects of our lives. They find their way into our takeout containers, children’s toys, drinking water, food, furniture, and even clothing. Shockingly, substances like BPA lurk in our receipts, while flame retardants hide in our children’s car seats. One might assume that the government thoroughly assesses each chemical’s safety before allowing it on the market, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Photo info graphic of common toxic chemicals in the home

What are Toxic Chemicals?

The rapid expansion of human industry over the past century has led to a staggering increase in the production of man-made chemicals. While some of these chemicals have undeniably contributed to significant advancements, particularly in sectors like healthcare, the majority of them pose severe threats to our well-being and the environment.

Astonishingly, countless potentially dangerous chemicals infiltrate the items we encounter daily in the United States, ranging from electronics and food to medical devices and carpets. Alarming as it may seem, the long-term health effects of many of these chemicals remain largely unknown, leaving us and our children vulnerable to unseen hazards.

To navigate the complex landscape of toxic chemicals, let’s start by taking a closer look at five of the most common types: pesticides, phthalates, bisphenols, flame retardants, and PFAS. By gaining insight into these categories, we can better comprehend the risks we face in our everyday lives.

Pesticides

Pesticides are chemical substances designed to eradicate or deter weeds, insects, and diseases. While some toxins are naturally derived from plants and animals, the vast majority are synthetically manufactured. Acute exposure to pesticides, such as organophosphates, can prove fatal, as they interfere with neurotransmitters responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and muscles. Even chronic low-level exposure can elevate the risk of neurological disorders, and some pesticides can disrupt hormonal systems.

Take, for instance, Roundup, a widely used weed killer containing glyphosate, an organophosphate manufactured by Monsanto. Studies have revealed statistically significant links between glyphosate and certain cancers, like Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Perhaps even more concerning is that approximately 70% of produce sold in the US contains pesticide residues. Not limited to fruits and vegetables, these residues can also be found in animal meat or milk due to contaminated animal feed. As a result, up to 50 million Americans may potentially be drinking groundwater tainted with pesticides, accentuating the pervasive nature of these chemicals.

Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals primarily employed as plasticizers to enhance the flexibility of plastic or used in solvents. Widespread exposure to phthalates has been observed, and these chemicals have been detected in children and young women. They find their way into not only toys and personal care products, like shampoo and perfume but also shower curtains and the paint on our walls. Studies have revealed that phthalates, as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, may be responsible for a significant decline in male fertility and issues with sexual development in the womb.

Bisphenols

Bisphenols are commonly used in hard plastic products, DVDs, metal cans, beverage bottles, and other food packaging. Among these, the most notorious is Bisphenol-A (BPA), posing a considerable risk of causing cancer. This harmful chemical can be ingested through our food and water, proving particularly detrimental to sensitive populations like infants and young children. Though many companies have eliminated BPA from their products, its substitutes, such as BPS and BPF, exhibit similar effects.

Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are chemicals incorporated into products to prevent the initiation or spread of fires. They pervade household items, including carpets, curtains, mattresses, electronics, and home insulation. Exposure to flame retardants can lead to endocrine and thyroid disruption, immune and reproductive issues, developmental problems in children, and even cancer. Most people come into contact with flame retardants through the inhalation of household dust.

PFAS

PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), also known as “forever chemicals” due to their inability to break down easily in the environment, are chemical compounds commonly utilized in domestic and industrial settings. They make surfaces resistant to stains, water, and grease, making them ideal for applications like oil-resistant coatings for food packaging, waterproof coatings for textiles and carpets, and fire-fighting foams. PFAS are associated with cancer, developmental problems, and disruptions to the hormonal system.

 

PFAS in common every day items info graphic

Dangerous to Our Health

Toxic chemicals in food and household products can have a wide range of detrimental effects on our health. These chemicals, often found in pesticides, cleaning agents, personal care products, and even food packaging, can enter our bodies through various routes such as ingestion, inhalation, and skin absorption. Here are some ways toxic chemicals can harm our health:

1. Cancer: Many toxic chemicals, such as certain pesticides and artificial food colorings, have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Prolonged exposure to these substances can damage DNA and disrupt cellular functions, leading to the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells.

2. Endocrine Disruption: Some toxic chemicals, like phthalates and bisphenols, are known as endocrine disruptors. They mimic or interfere with the hormones in our bodies, leading to hormonal imbalances. This disruption can result in reproductive problems, developmental issues, and hormonal disorders.

3. Neurological Problems: Certain pesticides and flame retardants have been associated with neurodevelopmental disorders and cognitive impairments, particularly in children. Exposure to these chemicals during critical stages of brain development can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficits, and reduced IQ.

4. Respiratory Issues: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in some cleaning agents and air fresheners can irritate the respiratory system and worsen conditions like asthma and allergies.

5. Organ Damage: Toxic chemicals, such as heavy metals like lead and mercury, can accumulate in our organs over time, leading to organ damage and dysfunction.

6. Reproductive and Fertility Problems: Exposure to certain toxic chemicals can disrupt reproductive functions, leading to infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects.

7. Immune System Suppression: Some toxic chemicals can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and diseases.

8. Allergies and Sensitivities: Certain chemicals, such as fragrances and preservatives in personal care products, can trigger allergic reactions and sensitivities in some individuals.

9. Obesity and Metabolic Disorders: Some studies have linked exposure to certain chemicals, like phthalates and bisphenols, to an increased risk of obesity and metabolic disorders.

10. Environmental Impact: Toxic chemicals that are improperly disposed of or released into the environment can contaminate water sources, soil, and air, affecting not only human health but also the health of wildlife and ecosystems.

It is essential to be aware of the potential harmful effects of toxic chemicals and take steps to minimize exposure. Choosing products labeled as non-toxic, organic, and environmentally friendly, and opting for natural cleaning agents can contribute to a healthier lifestyle and a safer environment. Additionally, advocating for stronger regulations and transparent labeling of products can help protect public health and prevent the widespread use of harmful chemicals.

Why we are concerned about endocrine disruptors info graphic

Harmful to the Environment

Toxic chemicals, whether intentionally or inadvertently released into the environment, can have severe and far-reaching consequences on the ecological balance and overall health of our planet. Here are some ways these chemicals damage the environment:

1. Water Contamination: Chemicals used in agriculture, industrial processes, and consumer products can leach into the soil and find their way into water bodies. Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers used in farming can runoff into rivers and lakes, leading to water pollution. Chemicals like PFAS, found in various products, including firefighting foams and food packaging, are known as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment and can contaminate groundwater.

2. Air Pollution: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other airborne toxic chemicals emitted from industrial facilities, vehicles, and household products contribute to air pollution. These pollutants can lead to smog formation, respiratory problems, and even contribute to climate change.

3. Soil Degradation: Pesticides and herbicides not only harm the targeted pests but can also affect beneficial insects, soil microbes, and other organisms crucial for soil health. These chemicals can degrade soil quality, leading to reduced agricultural productivity and damaged ecosystems.

4. Habitat Destruction: Some chemicals, such as those found in plastics, can persist in the environment for a long time, causing habitat destruction and posing risks to wildlife. Plastic waste, for example, can choke and entangle animals, disrupt marine ecosystems, and harm terrestrial wildlife that mistakenly ingest plastic particles.

5. Biodiversity Loss: Chemical pollution can disrupt ecosystems and lead to a decline in biodiversity. When pollutants accumulate in the environment, they can impact various organisms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms, disrupting their life cycles and ultimately leading to species loss.

6. Coral Reef Bleaching: Certain toxic chemicals, particularly those found in industrial wastewater and agricultural runoff, can contribute to coral reef bleaching. Coral reefs are highly sensitive to changes in water quality, and exposure to toxic substances can cause the expulsion of algae living within corals, leading to coral death and ecosystem degradation.

7. Ozone Depletion: Some chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), are known as ozone-depleting substances. These chemicals released into the atmosphere can break down the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

8. Endocrine Disruption in Wildlife: Toxic chemicals, particularly endocrine disruptors like phthalates and bisphenols, can affect wildlife as well. These chemicals can interfere with hormone systems in animals, leading to reproductive problems, altered behavior, and population decline.

9. Acid Rain: Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from industrial processes and transportation can lead to acid rain. Acid rain can harm aquatic ecosystems, damage forests, and erode building materials.

10. Eutrophication: Chemical runoff, particularly from agricultural activities, can cause eutrophication in water bodies. Excessive nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus fuel algal blooms, which consume oxygen in the water, leading to dead zones devoid of aquatic life.

Addressing the environmental damage caused by toxic chemicals requires comprehensive efforts, including stricter regulations on chemical use and disposal, promoting sustainable practices in agriculture and industry, and encouraging the adoption of eco-friendly products. By taking collective action to reduce the release of toxic chemicals into the environment, we can protect ecosystems, wildlife, and the delicate balance of nature for future generations.

PFAS cycle info graphic

How the Tera App Can Help You Live a Non-Toxic Lifestyle

At its core, the Tera app functions as a guardian of health and wellbeing. By delving deep into the intricate details of ingredient lists, the app provides a comprehensive analysis and scores for a wide range of products — from cleaning agents to cosmetics to food items. This analysis offers users an unprecedented level of transparency, unveiling the potential risks tied to different chemicals and components.

But the app’s significance goes beyond transparency; it’s about personalization. Each user is unique in their preferences and priorities. The Tera app understands this and allows users to tailor it to their specific values and objectives. This means that while one individual might be focused on reducing exposure to harmful chemicals, another might be more concerned about the ecological footprint of their choices. With the app’s personalized settings, users can filter and search for products that align perfectly with their ideals, making it a seamless journey towards a non-toxic lifestyle.

However, the Tera app is more than just a shopping companion. It’s an educator, an advocate, and a catalyst for change. Through its comprehensive data and insights, the app doesn’t just inform — it educates. It imparts knowledge about the potential risks associated with specific chemicals, empowering users with the awareness they need to make informed choices.

When users scan products or browse for alternatives, the app doesn’t just display results; it offers recommendations. These suggestions guide users towards healthier and more sustainable options that have a lower impact on both personal health and the environment. It’s like having a trusted advisor by your side while making important decisions.

The Tera app doesn’t merely stand as a tool for personal transformation; it fosters a broader movement towards change. As more people embrace this app and its principles, they collectively send a resounding message to industries — the demand for non-toxic, eco-friendly products is real and growing. This encourages companies to rethink their practices, aligning their production with healthier and more responsible standards.

In essence, the Tera app is a beacon of hope for individuals seeking a non-toxic lifestyle. It empowers users to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals, make choices that reflect their values, and contribute to a world that values health and sustainability. Tera is not just a digital tool; it’s a gateway to a non-toxic lifestyle.

Healthy for you and the planet terror app beyond meat beef product page

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