April 20, 2010

 Earth Day & The Great Lakes

Healthy Soul-utions is all about being healthy in all areas.  This month there is a great focus on planet earth with Earth Day this week.

Everything is interconnected. Our environment is really an extension of us. What we do the planet, we do to ourselves. This week we are going to look at what we are doing to our water resources. Taking our interconnection to another level, we can think of a human body being the smaller scale microcosm and the planet being the larger scale macrocosm.  About 70 percent of the planet is covered in waterways and oceans and the human body contains an average of 70 percent water or fluids. So we can see the mirroring of the microcosm and macrocosm.

Groundwater and fresh water are what humans use for drinking water. The Great Lakes are a vast shared resource containing a significant portion of the world’s freshwater. These lakes are a direct source of drinking water for millions of people as well as sustaining a rich variety of plants and wildlife.

The sustainability of the Great Lakes ecosystem is threatened. The lakes need immediate attention according to government officials.

What we do to our waterways, we do to ourselves, and to our children. How have our waterways become such a chemical soup?

When I was younger and not as educated, I used to blame industry, and it is true, they must plead guilty, and accept the responsibility for cleaning up their act. But then I realized that the combined households had a greater impact on the waterways than the industries. In a typical city of 100,000 people, approximately 14 tons of household cleaners go down the drain each month. Researchers are now saying that 70% of soil and groundwater contamination in North America comes from household cleaners. So it is time to look our home environment and see how we can improve it both for our personal heath and the planet’s health.

How do household cleaners affect our environment? What chemicals are we talking about? I will touch on only a few, There are many more.

1. Sodium Hydroxide found in dishwashing liquids, laundry products, oven cleaners, scouring cleansers and tub and tile cleaners, when inhaled is immediately irritating to the respiratory tract. Contact can cause severe damage to the eyes, skin, mouth, and throat and it can cause liver and kidney damage.

2. Butyl Cellosolve found in all-purpose cleaners, cleaning wipes, degreasers, floor polish, rug shampoos, toilet bowl cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, and window cleaners, contains neurotoxins and cause irritation and tissue damage from inhalation. A person who spends 15 minutes cleaning scale off shower walls could inhale three times the acute exposure limit.

3. Chlorine found in bleach and other cleaning products is a very hazardous substance. It causes neurological damage, memory impairment, behavioral disorders, spontaneous abortions, low birth rate, reduced testicular size, infertility, low sperm count, immune effects, immune cell abnormalities, and respiratory infections. Chlorine exposure causes a 44% greater risk of gastrointestinal cancer or urinary tract cancer, according to the National Health Federation.

Mitchell Gayor, M.D., Cornell University, states: “Chlorine bleach is potentially carcinogenic  … among its by-products are chlorinated hydrocarbons, chloroform, and trihalo-methanes, all of which act like estrogens and cause breast cells to divide more rapidly.  These by-products have been shown to cause breast tumours in animals.”

We could go on and on, there are many chemicals and these are all going down the drain and into our waterways and groundwater.

How these chemicals are affecting the wildlife? Chemical toxicity is very evident in fish. There is a large increase of fish with tumours and deformities. The World Wildlife Fund reports that not a single salmon in the Great Lakes over the age of two years has been found without an enlarged thyroid gland. Every year the provincial government publishes a fish advisory called “Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish” because of serious health concerns.

It is time that we realize that toxic household cleaners can damage the environment and return to us through water and food. What goes down the drain can come back to haunt us. So chose your cleaning products with care. The ones I choose are Get Clean as they are completely safe for the wildlife and the lakes. In fact those products already regenerated one small lake in upper New York State.

My goal now is to regenerate the Great Lakes starting with Lake Ontario. I need one million households using Get Clean products in order to get the tipping point we need to start the regeneration of the ecological balance for Lake Ontario. I need your help.

For more information on these healthy safe products, check out the healthy home section at  www.naturesvitalforce.com. 

In honour of Earth Day, I will give out free samples to anyone who contacts me this month.

Together we can choose to become conscious stewards of our planet earth. Our individual actions can and do make a difference to water quality and the environment as a whole. Caring for the environment really does begin at home.

Next week I will cover some more ways we can protect the planet as we wrap up our Earth Day month.

To your good health!


About the author 


I’m a Canadian, gluten-free, tai chi loving, great-grandmother. I live in Ontario and love helping people get healthy again.   I use all the experience I have gained in the almost 5 decades to help you live a life full of vitality with great clarity and focus.

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  1. Hi Charlene—

    While I’m glad you’re concerned about the consumer safety, there’s a good and simple reason that chlorine is used in disinfection products: it’s effective at killing germs that can make us sick. Despite what Dr. Gayor states, chlorine is not classified as a known or possible carcinogen by EPA, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) or the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It actually takes very little bleach to disinfect surfaces—just ½ tablespoon of bleach in ½ gallon of water is enough to kill bacteria, including e. coli and salmonella, on food preparation surfaces. Used properly, chlorine bleach degrades into salty water as it disinfects and is not harmful to the environment.


    Jeff Sloan
    American Chemistry Council

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