With new information about the food processing and agricultural industries constantly being unveiled, Americans are turning to organic products and whole foods in order to prevent the unintentional consumption of pesticides and other harmful products. Growth hormones in milk, bleach in poultry and a multitude of other disturbingly commonplace food production procedures have caused consumers to rethink their dietary choices and nutritional decisions. Despite countless attempts to make this information unattainable to the general public, the food industry has found it difficult to combat the constant release of unfavorable press. As available information concerning unsafe procedures within the food processing industry increases, the practice of clean eating is undoubtedly growing in popularity, and is posing a significant threat to the food processing industry.
Why, then, are Americans limiting their desire for all-natural, toxin-free products to solely the foods that they consume? All-natural soaps and other hygienic products are admittedly becoming more commonplace, but what about the environment that you surround yourself with on a daily basis? With all off the prolific criticism of the food industry, it seems counterintuitive to neglect other possible areas of toxicity in our lives. The push for clean consumption should not simply be focused on food, but our surrounding environment as well.
Millions of Americans are being exposed to toxins that are linked to serious health problems, and it’s all from the comfort of their own home. While they’re washing their organic kale and cooking their cage-free chicken, spores of illness are floating through the air in their home, ready for inhalation.
The toxicity of mold is a hotly debated issue, and one that many will claim is overhyped in order to incite panic in the public and benefit mold removal and restoration companies. In recent years, however, the toxicity statistics on mold have become irrefutable, and yet many people still neglect to address the presence of mold in their home.
According to a study conducted in 2007 by the EPA and Berkeley National Laboratory, “The national annual cost of asthma that is attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home is $3.5 billion.” The Mayo Clinic states that, “93% of chronic sinus infections have been attributed to mold,” and “an estimated 37 million people in the United States suffer from chronic sinusitis.” These numbers, however, aren’t the only the only testimonials supporting mold toxicity.
Mirroring characteristics of the popular food documentaries, “Fed Up” and “Hungry For Change,” the 2009 documentary “Black Mold Exposure,” accurately chronicles the catastrophic results of prolonged exposure to mold. Not only does it allow you to see the extensive structural damage caused by mold, but the mental damage done to those who are exposed as well.
With the vast amount of people being exposed to mold, it seems strange that there should be such little publicity concerning the serious health threats related to it. But, just as the food industry attempts to suppress public knowledge about food production, the insurance industry also plays a key role in the dampening of information concerning mold. Because of the frequency that mold occurs in homes — low-income housing in particular — the insurance industry would be forced to spend billions of dollars on remediation if mold was found to pose an undeniable health risk to those exposed to it.
Slumlords are also complicit in the suppression of the health risks associated with mold; if a court of law were to rule that the growth of mold in a residence poses a significant threat to its occupants, then the property owner would be legally responsible to pay for the remediation.
As we’ve seen with the food industry, this doesn’t mean that the misinformation of mold toxicity is unstoppable. Through relentless discourse and opposition, we can all play a key role in uncovering the detrimental effects of mold and the driving force behind the opposition. Demanding a clean, toxin-free environment in the same fashion that one would demand an apple free of pesticides is the first step to combating falsities concerning the toxicity of mold.
Due to recent prevalence in the news, Lumber Liquidators has suddenly forced us to start considering something ludicrous: the toxicity of our hardwood and laminate flooring. This functionally decorative component in all of our homes has previously posed little threat to us, as it…well, just sits there. We walk on it, we live around it and interact with in a fairly non-invasive manner on a daily basis. This Lumber Liquidators fiasco, however, has suddenly forced all of us to consider the origin and composition of our flooring. Like the food industry and the insurance industry, Lumber Liquidators has embarked on a mission to create veil between the consumer and the product. Consider your own flooring, or the flooring that you may have been wanting to purchase. Is it from China? Does it have formaldehyde in it? Do I even know how they MADE this? In all likelihood, you probably are struggling to answer one, if not all of these questions accurately.
So, as renters and homeowners, what can you do to avoid being the proud owner of toxic floors? Lumber Liquidators is selling formaldehyde testing kits online, but that won’t get you very far because they don’t seem to be actually delivering the test results. If you’ve already installed your floors and you suspect that they may be making you sick, see a doctor and immediately hire a private company to come test your flooring.
For those of you hoping to install new wood floors, there are a great deal of factors to consider before purchasing your flooring. First, you must choose between solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, and laminate flooring. Although there are many companies with reputable backgrounds that sell laminate flooring, its highly chemical composition cannot be ignored – engineered or solid hardwood are undoubtedly the less toxic routes.
Things become a little more complex, however, when the time comes to make the decision between unfinished hardwood and prefinished hardwood flooring. Installers hotly debate their preference between the two, arguing that one is easier to install or that the other is more durable, but when it comes to choosing your flooring like you would your beloved, toxin-free groceries, the choice is clear.
Prefinished hardwood is simply that: prefinished. It comes from a factory, and the finish, of unknown components, is lathered on your hardwood until it is shiny and ready for installation. Why would you give someone control over what is (in terms of toxins) the most dangerous part of your hardwood floors? If you choose unfinished hardwood flooring, you will be able to select your finish with a full knowledge of the chemical makeup. You will also be given a wider array of finishes to choose from, and a warmer, gentler feel.
In the end, it all comes down to conscious consumption. While the flooring in your home and the mold in your walls may seem like unlikely culprits for toxins, they should be treated with the same seriousness that you give the foods you place in your body. Although much of our failure to avoid exposure to unknown additives or chemicals is due to lack of education, there is need for an increased level of consciousness when observing the things that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Allowing others to manufacture things that we can do ourselves with little effort and with healthier results is simply laziness, while failing to recognize toxins at all may have deadly consequences. Don’t leave your health up to chance – practice conscious consumption.