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June 15, 2021

What you should know about household toxins

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

In their recent book Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects our Health, authors Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith talk about detoxing by abstaining from everyday consumer products known to contain pollutants, and then loading up on the common, brand-name products in order to measure the effect on their bodies.

The result, over a two-day period using brand-name deodorant, toothpaste, soap and shaving cream was a sharp increase in triclosan, a common anti-bacterial agent that, they maintain, has been identified as a potential carcinogen and reproductive toxin.

And their 'things that are bad for you' list goes on.

Although criticized as soft science and scaremongering by some, the book does document how we’re exposed to small amounts of chemicals over many years and that their effects may not be immediately evident.

That’s why Seventh Generation, a popular maker of environmentally responsible products, has launched a tool that helps consumers make healthier choices by better understanding the ingredients in common cleaning products.

The company's new label-reading guide contains a searchable and browsable list of ingredients that explains what each ingredient is, what it is used for, and what effect it has.

It's available as a free download for both Mac and Windows and also as a mobile phone app, so you can look up ingredients while shopping at the grocery store.

Although not as dire an issue, Greenpeace has also launched an iPhone app that lets you compare brands of facial tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels to find which products are most environmentally sustainable. The watchdog's ranking is based on percentage of recycled content and the bleaching method used.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...