The Ultimate Guide to Pesticides, Herbicides, and Household Toxins
Even if we’re making healthy lifestyle choices, like staying active and eating a healthy diet, it may not be enough to keep us healthy long-term. That’s because, in our modern world, we exist in a toxic environment. Toxins are all around us—in the air, in our homes, and our food— silently impacting our health. These toxins can disrupt our hormones, hurt our immune systems, or lead to developmental issues. (1, 2)
If we can’t see these toxins, how do we know what they are, and how can we keep ourselves safe? Keep reading to learn about common types of toxins, how to detox your environment, and what to do to protect the body.
Common Toxins in The Home
Toxins sneak into our homes through everyday household products, such as cleaners, paint, and even hygiene products. Knowing what those toxins are can help us avoid products that contain them. (1, 2)
Phthalates are a type of human-made chemicals. They’re often used to make plastics, fragrances, and cleaners. In studies on animals, phthalates have been connected to reproductive health and developmental issues. Phthalates are also considered endocrine disruptors, which can mimic or block the hormones the body makes naturally, which can lead to fertility issues and other health problems. (2)
While some phthalate-containing products may have them on their ingredient list, many don’t. They could be listed with an abbreviation, such as BBP, DBP, or DEP. Phthalates are just some of the thousands of chemicals that can be hidden under the label of “fragrance”. Check products’ labels for any of these ingredients, and choose fragrance-free products when possible. (2)
Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
PFCs are used to make products resistant to water, grease, and stains. They can be found in nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing and mattresses, and stain-resistant carpet and furniture. (2)
PFCs are also considered endocrine disruptors, and they’ve been linked to low birth weight, obesity, and testicular and kidney imbalance. In studies on animals, PFCs have been shown to cause developmental problems, weakened immune system function, and disturb regular hormonal activity. (2)
In the United States, cookware manufacturers once used PFCs to make nonstick pans. Today, that ingredient is being phased out. However, if someone has older nonstick pans in their home, they may unwittingly be cooking with PFCs. Check pots and pans for older nonstick cookware and replace any that are found. (2)
Flame retardants were created to do precisely what their name says—to prevent items from catching on fire. While this might seem like a good thing at first, flame retardants can have several negative impacts on people’s health, and they’re another example of endocrine disruptors. (2)
These days manufacturers are using flame retardants less, but they can still be found in mattresses, upholstery, carpet, foam, and curtains. Be especially careful when purchasing items for children. Ensure that any furnishings children use aren’t filled with polyurethane foam but rather wool, cotton, or polyester. (2)
Pesticides and Herbicides
Pesticides and herbicides are two other toxins we come into contact with frequently. Pesticides were created to kill insects, weeds, rodents, and molds. Herbicides are a type of pesticide that is explicitly designed to kill weeds. (1, 3)
It's normal to think of pesticides as only used outside at farms where food is grown. But it’s incredibly common for people to use pesticides in their own homes. In fact, in the past year, 75% of American households used at least one pesticide indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. What’s more, 80% of our exposure to pesticides occurs indoors. (1)
Before grabbing that bottle of insect spray, consider the potential health risks of pesticides and herbicides: (1)
- irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
- muscle twitching
- tingling sensations
- central nervous system issues
- kidney problems
Pesticides often include a chemical called glyphosate that is so heavily used, it’s often present in both our food and drinking water. Glyphosate can have devastating health effects, such as removing essential minerals from our bodies, killing beneficial bacteria, and strengthening dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. Glyphosate can also reduce the production of neurotransmitters, leading to depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. (1, 2)
How to Detox Your Environment Of Pesticides and Herbicides
Learning about our toxic environment may feel overwhelming at first. But there are many things we can do to reduce the number of toxins we encounter each day.Avoid Toxins: Know What’s In Common Products
Read the labels of the cleaning and personal hygiene products that are already in your home. Do the same for any new products you’re planning to purchase at a store. There are also several apps that allow us to scan a product’s barcode and learn about the toxins it contains and its potential health effects. (1, 2)
Start to replace products that contain toxins like phthalates, PFCs, flame retardants, or “fragrance”. Take some time to research new products that are free from endocrine disruptors and other toxins. (1, 2)
Integrated Pest Management Helps Avoid Toxins
While pesticides and herbicides may be the easiest way to deal with weeds, insects, or rodents at the moment, the health risks of using such methods are not neglectable. It’s possible to use fewer pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which involves managing pests through inspection, monitoring, treatment, and evaluation. One of IPM’s goals is to reduce the use of toxic products. (1, 3)
Examples of IPM include: (1, 3)
- eliminating pests’ habitats, both inside and outside the home
- cutting off pests’ access to food in and around the home
- reducing the use of herbicides by maintaining a healthy and robust lawn that is less susceptible to weeds
Toxin-Free Organic Eating
Eating organic food is a vital way to lower exposure to toxins. While toxic drift (when pesticides from neighboring conventional farms blow over to organic farms) makes it difficult to completely avoid toxins in our food, organic meat and produce are certainly better options than their conventional counterparts. (4)
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic foods follow these guidelines: (5)
- grown on soil that had no prohibited substances (most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) applied for three years before harvest
- neither grown nor handled using genetically modified organisms
- for meat, animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors
- animals are not administered antibiotics or hormones
Protecting The Body From Environmental Toxins
The above steps will be hugely helpful in protecting the body from a toxic environment. But issues like toxic drift, pesticides in the air, and poisonous products we come into contact with outside our homes make it difficult to avoid pollutants 100%. (4, 6)
For this reason, it’s important to take further steps to protect the body from a toxic environment. One option is to take a daily supplement that helps to detoxify the body and defend against environmental toxins. Choose detox products that support the elimination of pesticides, common agricultural chemicals and environmental toxins, while supporting key organs and systems.
Natural Detox Support against Environmental Toxins
ecoNugenics specializes in highly targeted detox formulas featuring clinically-researched ingredients for gentle yet effective toxin removal and overall health.*
- PectaClear is a clinically researched detoxification formula that effectively binds and eliminates toxic metals, and radioactive ions from the body—without disrupting essential minerals.*
- GlyphoCleanse is a daily detox and defense formula designed to address glyphosate and other pesticides and agricultural toxins, with additional support for digestion and thyroid health. Targeted ingredients help eliminate agricultural and environmental toxins and block their absorption and storage throughout the body.*
- ecoDetox is an in-depth detox formula that combines botanical extracts, antioxidants, and targeted nutrients, to optimize the body’s natural detox functions—with critical benefits for the liver, kidneys, and other elimination systems.*
Frequently Asked Questions About Pesticides and Herbicides
Why do people use pesticides?
Humans use pesticides to control and remove weeds, insects, rodents, and mold. (1, 3)
Are pesticides harmful?
Pesticides can have many concerning effects on humans, such as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, weakness, tingling sensations, nausea, central nervous system issues, and kidney problems, and more. (1)
- Chapter 5: Indoor Air Pollutants and Toxic Materials. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha05.htm. Published October 1, 2009. Accessed September 16, 2020.
- (4)Making a Healthier Home. National Institutes of Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2016/12/making-healthier-home. Published September 8, 2017. Accessed September 16, 2020.
- (6)Reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides. https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/reducewastepesticides.pdf. Accessed September 17, 2020.
- Haspel T. Perspective | The truth about organic produce and pesticides. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/the-truth-about-organic-produce-and-pesticides/2018/05/18/8294296e-5940-11e8-858f-12becb4d6067_story.html. Published May 21, 2018. Accessed September 21, 2020.
- McEvoy M. Organic 101: What the USDA Organic Label Means. USDA. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means. Published March 13, 2019. Accessed September 21, 2020.
- Eliaz I. America's #1 Weedkiller Is Tricking Your Body Into Absorbing It (So Here's How to Block It). Dr. Axe. https://draxe.com/health/glyphosate-toxicity/. Published July 31, 2020. Accessed September 17, 2020.