health | November 29, 2012

Health Speaker Adria Vasil: Even "Good" Chemicals Can Be Hazardous

Adria Vasil, a prominent speaker on health and environmental issues, passionately argues for the need to pay closer attention to the potentially life-threatening chemicals lurking in our everyday household products. In her popular Ecoholic book series, she explains that making a conscious effort to buy "green" products not only helps our planet's health—but our own as well. Eliminating products that contain a dangerous level of toxic chemicals seems like a common sense approach to healthier living. However, what happens when you purchase a product that you don't realize has a dangerous chemical compound lurking within it? Or, even worse, when the chemicals contained in the product are marketed as something that is meant to help you—but are actually threatening your health while providing you with little to no benefit?

A recent study conducted by CBC's Marketplace found that the chemical flame retardants found in upholstered furniture actually did very little to prevent house fires. Not only was the amount of retardant used not effective in keeping a fire from spiraling out of control, the chemical actually poses health risks in the event that it catches fire, the study found. When burning, the chemical produces "elevated amounts of carbon monoxide as well as dioxins and furans, toxic chemicals that can cause immune disorders, liver problems, skin lesions and certain types of cancer," the report reads. Further, the chemical can be harmful even when not burning as the retardant can be transferred from the furniture to the air, tainting the home with hazardous fumes that are constantly being ingested in every time someone sits on the furniture. The chemical can also be found in many other household objects from children's toys and TVs to chairs and carpets.

It's cases like this that make Vasil's work even more relevant. She advises people to educate themselves on what materials go into their everyday items. In her books and her lively talks, she shares insights on how to better arm yourself against dangerous chemicals and how to move toward living a greener and healthier life.

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