While many Baby Boomers are aware that lifestyle factors can dramatically impact health, some may not know that dangers around the home can also have a huge and lasting effect.
This September is Organic Awareness Month and experts are taking the opportunity to warn people that certain chemicals, cleaning products and other toxins around the home could be contributing to health problems. In addition to making people feel under the weather, they could also worsen existing health conditions – so it’s something Boomers need to take seriously.
“Our homes have a huge impact on our health and there are many factors that could be making us sick,” RMIT University Professor Marc Cohen told Starts at 60. “This includes exposure to biotoxins released by mould and bacteria that occur where there is dampness and water damage, exposure to toxic chemicals such as fire retardants in soft furnishings and plastics, volatile organic compounds that outgas from varnishes, electromagnetic fields from routers and power meters and chemicals we buy such as pesticides, artificial fragrances and toxic cleaning products.”
While it can be easy to grab harmful cleaning products from the supermarket because they’re cheap and readily available, one of the major changes people can make it switching to organic alternatives where possible. For example, artificial fragrances that many people spray around the home can be switched for organic essential oils. The trick is reading the label to know exactly what is in the product before buying it.
“Any product that contains the word ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ on its label contains dozens of toxic petrochemicals including phthalates which are used to make artificial smells linger, yet are known endocrine disruptors [impact homes],” Cohen warned.
In addition, damp microfibre cloths can be more effective than other cleaning products and can even keep creepy crawlies at bay.
“A damp microfibre cloth can be more effective than toxic chemical cleaning products and it is better to deprive pests such as ants, cockroaches and rodents of food, water and shelter by keeping areas clean and dry rather than using toxic pesticides,” Cohen said.
In addition to the benefits it can have on health, ditching toxic products and opting for organics can be good for the environment, farm animals, the food industry and soil.
“The knowledge that our choices have long lasting benefits along the food production chain can reassure us we can have a positive effect on the world and this can have real psychological benefits,” Cohen added. “Going organic can also improve our physical health by exposing us to less toxic chemicals.”
And, while many people are concerned over whether making the switch will cost them more money, it turns out it’s not always the case. For example, people can grow food at home which reduces the impact on the environment and can save money.
“Organic food does not necessarily have to be more expensive and if you include the costs to the environment and to animal and human health, then organic is by far the cheaper option,” Cohen explained. “There are also many organic co-ops and community supported agriculture initiatives that can make organic food extremely cost effective. It is also cheaper and more satisfying to grow food yourself where possible.”
Shoppers in Australia can look out for the Australian Certified Organic Bud logo when shopping, to ensure their products really are less harmful and toxic.
“Purchasing products that carry the Australian Certified Organic Bud logo saves you time at the store and reassures you that the product will be free-range, not genetically modified, water efficient and biodiversity friendly, as well as being free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics,” Cohen said.
“The Australian Certified Organic Bud logo is only allowed to be displayed on products that are either Certified Organic or Certified in Conversion which means they have met stringent requirements, so you can trust that you are purchasing an authentic organic product.”