Your home may be full of plastic, but also, without becoming aware, full of toxins that will harm both your health and the health of your loved ones. In order to provide answers on how to combat this problem we have turned to Carlos de Prada, person in charge of the campaign Hogar sin tóxicos (Toxin-free Home) run by Fundación Vivo Sano.(Vivo Sano Foundation)
What is hogarsintoxicos.org? What are its goals?
Hogar Sin Tóxicos (Toxin-free Home) is a campaign that aims to ensure that human exposure to a big number of pollutants, that thousands of scientific studies associate with health problems such as asthma, allergies, cancers, infertility…, is reduced. We focus specially on our homes because it is a key area since people who live in developed countries spend more than 90% of their time indoors, and particularly at home. Here, via inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption, we are exposed to countless pollutants that may be present in air fresheners, household pesticides, paints, plastics, cleaning products… Substances that even at very low concentration levels can cause side effects, particularly in the case of pregnant women and young children. We want to be applied the principle… “better safe than sorry”, since many diseases are related to environmental factors. We show which toxins can be found at home, the products that got them, what effects can cause and which are the alternatives to eliminate or reduce their presence. You can find all this information on our web hogarsintoxicos.org, or through our books, courses, conferences… We also develop specific campaigns to eliminate the use of some of these contaminants.
What are the 5 most common toxic substances we can find at home? How can we easily avoid them?
It is difficult to name only a few substances, since there are thousands of them present at home. We do not become really aware that our chemical environment has nothing to do with that of our grandparents. In 2007, 143,000 synthetic chemicals, used in Europe, were registered at the European Chemical Agency (ECHA). Many of them end up integrated into consumer products that can be found at our homes. Although only a fraction of these substances and the effects they may have on our health has been studied, it is well known that hundreds of them can be harmful. To highlight only a few of these substances, that concern to scientists, we could mention bisphenol A, some phthalates, flame retardants, domestic pesticides and some substances present in air fresheners and cleaning products. On our website, where our campaign book can be free downloaded, we give specific and easy advice on how to cut down the presence of chemical pollutants in our environment. On household cleaning, though we can always use vinegar, lemon and baking soda, there are also environmentally friendly cleaning products that do not contain these kind of toxins. On the other hand, there are ecological paints based on vegetable oils, or poison free air fresheners… There are, in short, many options and alternativas.
Is it possible to live in a free of toxins home in big cities?
100% free is difficult. But any reduction in our exposure to chemical contaminants reduces the risk to a possible number of health problems. We can reduce most notably the presence of many of these toxins in our home and thus, in our bodies.
At an individual level we can make many changes but globally, what is the biggest health problem we have to face?
It is hard to say which is the biggest environmental and public health problem with regard to chemicals. One of them is cancer. Recently, World Health Organization said that cancer incidence rate might grow no less than 70% over the next 20 years. The trend has been the same in recent decades. And, to be honest, neither in this nor in other diseases, they are doing the right thing in terms of primary prevention, because as, among many others, American President’s Cancer Panel (PCP) says, part of which, perhaps not an insignificant amount, should be associated with environmental factors such as reducing exposure to chemical contaminants. The same, to a greater or lesser extent, could be said of health problems such as allergies, infertility, infant neurobehavioral problems. etc.
Who is Carlos Prada?
- He is a journalist specializing in ecology. Expert in environmental issues.
- He takes also part in several entities linked to nature conservation.
- Global 500 Award (2000), launched by the United Nations Environment Programme, and Spanish Environment Award (1997), among many others.
- Head of Hogar sin Tóxicos Campaign of Vivo Sano Foundation.
- He usually collaborates with print media and radio as an expert in environmental issues.