The Clean Water Blog

Not Your Usual Detox: What It Was Like Learning I Am Toxic

This fall, I signed up for a detox.  It wasn’t what you’d expect, I haven’t been juicing, spending time in the sauna, exercising, or changing my diet. Instead I signed up for the Silent Spring Institute’s Detox Me Action Kit.

The Detox Me Action Kit is a urine test that detects the presence of 10 common household toxics in your body. As a part of the results you get a personalized digital report that compares your results with the aggregate data collected from all Detox Me participants and gives you concrete actions you can take to reduce your body’s chemical load. I am an Environmental Health and Justice Organizer and teach and talk to people and government about the toxic chemicals that we are all exposed to on a daily basis, so I was of course very excited about getting tested but also terrified because I know the dangers of toxic chemicals. I am not the healthiest person I know; I get take-out often, use personal care products like cosmetics and nail polish once in a while but definitely felt that I used a lot less toxic products than most of the population, so I expected positive results-or negative in this case.

The process was fairly easy; I got my kit through the mail and a survey through email that asked about the products I use and with what frequency. The kit asks for 2 urine samples, one in the morning and another at the end of the day; man was it fun to take a urine sample after an 8-hour slumber…not! After a few weeks of testing and compiling, my results arrived. Here’s what I learned:

The lab did not detect any antimicrobials, found only one Paraben chemical out of the 4 that they test for and only one of the flame retardant chemicals tested positive. But, on the not so great news they did find traces of Bisphenols like BPF, BPS and BPA. And yes, BPA is not the only Bisphenol that exists and you should look out for.

They also found chlorinated Phenols, chemicals found in pesticides and benzophenone-3, a sunscreen chemical that’s connected to mimicking natural hormones like estrogen. I was not pleased with my results, but I know that they could have been worse. Just imagine the numbers of people buying “strawberry” scented perfumes, or eating out of plastics everyday!

Along with these results Silent Spring Institute provided ways that I could decrease my exposure to the chemicals they found like avoiding sun screen sprays, eating more organic foods, cooking more fresh meals at home (uhg, there goes my take-out habits!) and choosing furniture that doesn’t contain flame retardants. That’s all good advice, but truthfully, I don’t think that should be my job!

Our government has the responsibility of keeping us safe but if all these chemicals are in my body, clearly they’re not doing their job.   We need strong laws and policies that eliminate toxic chemicals from all our products because we consumers shouldn’t have to do individual research and take twice as long in stores reading product labels to make sure none of the Hazardous Hundred are in them.  Since the government isn’t doing its job, it’s up to us.

Take action today and demand that retailers eliminate the sale of products with toxic chemicals, so that neither you nor your family has to worry about what’s hiding in your home…or your body.