Cleaning, Breathing and Drinking Toxicity

Reader Contribution by Seth Leitman
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With all this talk about toxins and toxicity in green living, I thought it would be a good idea to explain what toxicity means.  It’s not that you now have to jump onto a website like for toxic withdrawl or anything.  It is that more of the products that we know to clean our homes, drink our water or breathe into our lungs have toxins in them which can leave devastating effects.  So in essence going green on this issue is like going into recovery since these the toxins are in our body and we need to get healthy. 

In the year 1891, Nikola Tesla was busy spreading the AC current across the world, the telephone was gaining international popularity in Europe and the United States, and the first escalator was patented at Coney Beach in the UK. A spirit of innovation had swept the globe, and a Russian chemist named Aleksandr Dianin was about to make history.

By carefully combining different elements, he discovered the compound (CH3)2(C(C6H4OH)2, also known as Bisphenal A or BPA, a substance that has since become one of the most notorious and controversial compounds of our time. First used as an artificial growth hormone for the cattle and poultry industries as well as an estrogen replacement for menopausal women, this artificial estrogen was early identified as being capable of changing how cells grow and change. Considering what it is used for today, the history of BPA is shocking! You can protect yourself from this dangerous toxin by learning its history and what you can do to eradicate it from our society altogether.

Before BPA achieved such widespread infamy, it began being used in a way that was never intended: by the food industry. During the 1950’s industry leaders were becoming interested in developing a means of food preservation that would allow goods to safely last for longer on the shelves of stores and in homes. Even though BPA had been used for twenty years as a growth hormone in cattle and as an estrogen replacement for women, it began to be used in the lining of food containers and plastics to better preserve food and to form a barrier against bacteria and pathogens.

For example, the longstanding U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act is up for major renovation. Will lawmakers deliver what Americans need?

Writing in Ensia magazine, journalist Elizabeth Grossman states, “Synthetic chemicals permeate every aspect of our lives. Virtually every type of product we use — from personal care products to electronics, food packaging to building materials, clothing to furniture — is likely to contain materials that occur nowhere in nature. While it cannot be assumed that synthetics are hazardous or that naturally occurring substances are safe, we are now exposed to scores of synthetic chemicals throughout our lives. Many of these chemicals are in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, both indoors and out. They are in our bodies and those of newborn babies.”

Story link from Ensia Magazine

Unacceptable Levels

Unacceptable Levels, an award-winning documentary directed by filmmaker Ed Brown, will host its Chicago screening debut on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Chicago is one of 13 locations included in the film’s summer tour.

Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940’s and opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so we can make informed decisions and healthier choices now and in the future.

Problems with BPA

Almost 5 decades later from 1891, scientists began seeing disturbing correlations between exposure to BPA and obesity, impaired brain development, various types of cancers, reproductive problems, impaired thyroid function, and many other health problems. This compound that was being used in every type of canned or bottled food in the world was the very reason behind countless health concerns, particularly those found in children and infants.

Despite numerous studies and bans in countries in Europe and Canada, the United States continues to allow companies to use BPA in various types of plastics today. There are countless organizations dedicated to raising awareness about and eradicating BPA from these industries, and victories have been achieved in the baby bottle, sippy cup, and toy industries. As of July 2012, BPA is banned completely from any all baby bottles and sippy cups.

Today, it is very easy to find safe, BPA-free bottles and sippy cups from reliable and conscientious retailers. Unfortunately, despite achievements in the baby product industry, BPA continues to be a threat because of its widespread use in household products. (Source: Bradley Russell)

In June 2013, UC Berkeley, University of Minnesota, Northeastern University, Gordon College, Simmons College, and the University of Wisconsin are among the twelve colleges and universities that are initial signers of the Green Chemistry Commitment (, making them part of the first national effort to transform university chemistry education. The Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) is a consortium of universities and industry partners designed to create systemic and lasting change in university-level chemistry education, and to increase the number of green chemists and scientists in the U.S. and the opportunities available to them in the field.


The Green Chemistry Commitment is organized by Beyond Benign (, a non-profit foundation created and led by world-renowned green chemistry scientist Dr. John Warner dedicated to providing future and current scientists, educators, and citizens with the tools to teach and learn about green chemistry in order to create a sustainable future. Beyond Benign and the Green Chemistry Commitment will be presenting a session about the GCC at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in June 2013. The GC&E conference is sponsored by the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute.


The Natural Resources Defense Council says studies have linked BPA exposure to a number of dangerous side effects, including defects in newborns, harm to the central nervous system, increased rates of prostate and breast cancer, and metabolic changes in the body that lead to obesity and insulin resistance, which are the main causes of diabetes.

The FDA has voted the ban down, but based on that information, we think everyone should personally vote it in for their households. With that being said, it is hard to know what products really are safe, so here is a handy list of products and resources to help you live BPA free!

Bottom line, with the Toxic Substances Control Act set to be on the agenda when Congress returns this fall, this topic will be back in the headlines and will be talked about as badly as toxic drugs.

Hey!  My name is Seth Leitman (The Green Living Guy). I have Sustainability and Eco Consulting Services and Green Living Guy Productions!  Plus, I host a radio show on Blog Talk Radio

I’ve authored and/or edited Nine Books with McGraw-Hill Professional on the Green Guru Guide series. These books include:

Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman

Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman

Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel

Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky

Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley

Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke

Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley

Build Your Own Small Wind Power System!!

and more green living books to follow.

To Learn More About Why Seth Leitman is The Green Living Guy

Photo Credit: and Bradley Russell