Go to fullsize imageWell, well, well….I am back from my 4th of July hiatus only to see that blog stats/visits have dropped 3 fold over the holiday.  I hope that’s a temporary thing and not a sign that the bloggy world has suffered some strange alien capture. 

Our vacation was great!  It’s always nice to reconnect with each as a family and see new sites.  I didn’t tell anybody in the bloggy world that we were leaving because I get a little weird about mass numbers of people knowing that my house was empty for any certain length of time.  So, Suprise!  I went on vacation and now I am back!  Ready to rock your world.  I was ready to write a novel last night but a huge power surge ripped through our neighborhood and started the power lines on fire.  Which in turn snapped and started lawns on fire.  Nice toxic smoke filled our ‘hood.  I think we almost died.  Okay, that’s exaggerating but still there’s nothing like some dramatic acts of nature to bring the neighborhood together.  It was a regular block party out on the street.

Speaking of toxic smoke…..if you didn’t catch it, this is my handy intro line to my official post topic.  How often don’t we use that word “toxic”?  Seriously, this word drives Tomas and me crazy.  The media uses it nonstop.  Marketing agencies have clung to it like stink on poop.  It’s used to describe everything from chemicals, to medicines, to chidren’s toys, to band names,  and don’t forget the almighty toxic relationship.  Say it 15 times and see if it makes any sense anymore.  “Toxic, Toxic, Toxic, etc”.  If you say it with the Jan Brady “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” twang it’s more fun. 

The word “toxic” has been so used and misused, that it’s confusing to much of the general population.  If something says “non-toxic”, can we eat it?  If you read something that’s not labelled  “non-toxic”, should you avoid all contact and purchase hazmat gear if you come in a 15 mile radius of it?  Let’s think about this for just a minute.  Come along and join one of the weekly debates at my house. Yes, we are nerds.  But I have always been taught that,  “Nerds will always win in the end.  Nerds rule the world”.

Our trusted resource Mirriam Webster says that the word toxic means: 

1. containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation <toxic waste> <a toxic radioactive gas> <an insecticide highly toxic to birds> 2 : exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis <the patient became toxic two days later> 3 : extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful <toxic sarcasm>

If you go by the first definition anything could be toxic.  Crystal clear spring water could be toxic if consumed in large amounts.  Even to the point of causing death.  If you take into consideration the number of people that die every year from drowning, water is very toxic.  Food is toxic.  Especially any food containing additives or artificial ingredients.  People get cancer, bowel obstructions, and die from choking all the time.  Would we avoid all these the same way we would toys from China covered with lead paint?  Granted that’s an extreme argument, but you get the point. 

So what does it mean for an item to be “non-toxic”?  Since the lead in toy scare this past holiday, mothers especially are desparately concerned with labels and anything indicating that a child’s item could be toxic.  It may come as a surprise to you that many items are labelled non-toxic simply because there is no negative information or safety testing completed for it at the time.  No data could mean “non-toxic”.

What you really need to consider is, that it’s all in the amount of toxic material present in the item.  For example, there is no way to avoid lead completely in your life.  It’s everywhere in small amounts and the same is true for many of the toxic chemicals/minerals that we come into contact with every day.  However, it’s only at a certain level that it becomes dangerous to human health (or the length and frequency of exposure).

And thus we are back to the study of labels that I have talked about previously.  Be warned that just because something is labelled as “non-toxic”, doesn’t mean it is completely safe.  It’s probably safer  than other some other alternatives but you’re not free and clear to bathe in it or eat it in entirety.  From my very limited studies on this, it simply means that if used according to instructions, it is not known to cause any harmful effects on humans or the environment at that exposure/amount.  However, don’t be suckered into thinking that just because going green is the next best thing to sliced bread right now that testing and labelling requirements have tightened.  They have not and probably will not any time soon.  It’s still a fuzzy gray toxic crazy world out there.

Remember, common sense is key.  Moderation and appropriate use and limited exposure to anything is crucial to your overall health.   Also, be sure to read.  Read those labels.  Become familiar with buzz words that are covering up actual ingredients.  Look for short lists of ingredients and avoid the long sonnets of additives.  Research companies and stick with those that have proven non-toxic track records. 

I know I probably mushed your brain if you made it this far.  Nothing in the labelling world is clear cut or straight forward when it comes to this.  If you have suffered an electrical short in the firing of your neurons from taking in this post, have fallen off of your chair, hit your head on the wall and fell into your waiting bubble bath made with all natual, non-toxic soap, only to wake up on the other side, remember this my friend…everything can be toxic.  Even this post.  It’s just how much you absorb that makes the difference. 

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