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14
Nov

The Non Toxic Avenger – Book Review

by Tiffany in Book Reviews

I have read hundreds of books about green living and sustainability over the years. The preservation of our planet is big on my hot topics list. This is not what actually motivated me to start living green though. The issue that started my great green journey was actually the environment much closer to home… the building with four walls that housed my family and I. It was the threat contained in our food, home, bed, air, personal products, toiletries, etc that motivated me to keep it green and clean. As a mom I really want to know about environmental factors and products that may affect the health of my family. By this time I already had a very sick child who was poisoned by the pharma drugs (vaccines) I had been trained to believe would keep him healthy. I had also experienced him becoming very ill in reaction to a toxic toilet cleaner and he didn’t even eat it or rub it on his skin, he simply inhaled the fumes. With fresh eyes I decided not to trust my government anymore because they were clearly lax in their duties to keep products offered to the public safe. Thus began my own journey.

When I heard that my bloggy friend Deanna Duke (ie Crunchy Chicken) was writing a book called The Non Toxic Avenger, I knew it would be right up my alley. Not only do I love her writing and her humor, I love the subject matter. It is near and dear to my heart, especially since her husband was diagnosed with a type of cancer that is typical to elderly folks and so was I. When her husband and son both received a heartbreaking diagnosis within the span of one week, she wanted answers. I appreciated very much reading about her journey, the answers she found, and her insights into the toxins all around us, toxins that are making us sick.

Deanna decided to get tested for a wide array of toxins and measure her “toxic body burden”. While she had been furthering green and sustainable causes for years she really believed that things like shampoo and deodorant were safe or the government would not allow them to be sold. After her personal experiences with her son and husband though, along with some insights gleaned from a book titled Slow Death by Rubber Duck, she decided to make some changes. She wanted to see what her toxic body burden was and if she could reduce it by eliminating sources of toxins in her life. This book is the result of that personal experiment.

When she got down to the nitty gritty of her experiment she analyzed ALL her choices and habits from the material used to make her eyeglasses to the jewelry she had in her jewelry box. Going along with her on this journey was very eye opening as she did an incredibly thorough job researching all potential sources of toxins in her family’s life. It also had so many aspects that directly related to me and my struggles. My first child was just a mess as far as health was concerned so of course I wonder if my own choices and toxic body burden played a role in his issues. For more than 9 months he had a very unhealthy home in my womb. Were his issues caused by vaccines alone or were my toxic shampoos, hair coloring, MSG Chinese take out meals, and nesting activities that included a big bottle of Windex a factor? These are the questions that can keep you up at night.

This is exactly why books like Deanna’s are so important. Young folks need to be made aware of the all the choices they are making that could adversely affect their health and that of their as yet unborn children. It is books like this that should be making the high school reading list! Instead of debating abortion in college, like I had to do, have students debate issues like this… the toxic nature of our lives. The abortion debate did nada for me in real life but this was info I could use!

Also discussed in the book were common health issues and what may be causing them. I had no idea for instance that a Swedish study in 2010 had found that children raised in homes with vinyl flooring, which can emit phthalates, were more likely to have autism (had vinyl floors for years AND a son with autism – we had the decked stacked against us). This clearly shows that environmental factors can be a culprit. ADHD, cancer, and early puberty in kids are also explored.

Some of the products that Deanna analyzed in depth include:

  • Non stick cookware
  • water repellent fabrics
  • food dyes
  • candles
  • mammograms
  • perfumes
  • nail polish
  • deodorant
  • tap water
  • pharma drugs
  • pillows and bedding
  • hair care products
  • house paint
  • alcohol
  • heating oil
  • soap
  • makeup
  • lotion/sunscreen
  • food
  • holiday decor
  • menstrual products
  • cellphones and computers

What makes all of it infinitely more interesting is that you are not reading a dry list of factoids. The information is shared much the same way a friend would tell you about what she discovered when she researched this and that and what it meant to their lives and health. I especially loved that she got household items tested with an XRF gun. A necklace she frequently wore tested way over the federal limit for lead, as did a charm on a bracelet her daughter wore. A PC laptop charger tested high for bromine levels but a Mac charger tested with no detectable levels. A small sampling of items tested raised a lot or red flags and made her wonder about other things in her home. It just goes to show that all those government regulations can end up meaning diddly squat in the end.

Criticisms about the book? I found myself wondering about the need to find substitutes for some things… like a wrist watch, lotion, or makeup for example. I got to thinking that there was some rationalizations of silly things but then I had to own up to the fact that this can be chalked up to our differences as human beings. I found it incredibly easy to forgo wearing a watch, putting lotion on my skin, or wearing a stitch of makeup… but that is me. I am also not a former model and I don’t occasionally appear on TV like the author. I was also generally not a fan of the idea that flu shots are a necessary evil. I don’t think I have ever gotten a flu shot and I know my kids haven’t either. It is unlikely we ever will but then again I don’t live with someone who has immunity issues due to chemo. I cannot really criticize anything in the book. I only disagreed with a couple small things or felt the rationalization for needing certain products didn’t resonate with me personally.

Overall the book is a wonderful source of information about our toxic home environment and how that contributes to our health. It packaged in an easy to read and humorous format that kept me glued to the book from the first page to the last. Since I tend to lose interest in many books quite fast that is saying quite a bit. I am very picky about my reading material so am always pleasantly surprised to pick up a book and find myself halfway through the book in no time at all. I would recommend it highly to all parents and those seeking to move beyond planetary issues alone and include more education about body burdens and sustaining our own health.

And I just have to add that I read this book several months before it released and shared my feedback with Deanna way back when. She included my endorsement in the opening pages of the book. Booyah! This is like the 3rd or 4th time I have been quoted or mentioned in a book but it never gets old. ;)

Enjoy!

Book Link: The Non-Toxic Avenger: One woman’s mission to reduce her toxic body burden

Monday, November 14th, 2011

4 Comments

  • Good Girl Gone Green

    Great review. I am soooo looking forward to reading her book!

  • http://www.nontoxicnest.wordpress.com Meryl (Nontoxic Nest)

    Good review. My copy of the book has just arrived here in New Zealand, so I’m only chapters in so far. I love the chatty style of the book, but I agree with your comments on vaccines. I’m amazed that the author sees them as a necessary evil, given that the whole point of her book is eliminating toxins. I know she wanted to protect her husband from the flu, but a) most people don’t get flu anyway and b) being surrounded by people with compromised immune systems from being vaccinated is not great either. Then again, I knew nothing about vaccines (although I thought I did) until fairly recently either.

  • Sara from Brussels

    Congrats on the mentioning in the book!  GREAT article! Very eye opening but I knew about some things beforehand.  There’s a website I used (and became obsessed over!) during my first pregnancy that broke down all personal products into their ingredients and how harmful they are to you, side effects, etc.  We use eco cleaners or natural ones like lemon, vinegar, and baking soda, but there are times when the “harsh” ones need to be used.  I DO know that furniture, rugs, paint, etc give off fumes but having plants in your house help to eliminate those toxins we breathe in.  Also, buying used furniture (like IE: We just bought our first house here in Belgium and would like to find an antique “farm” table) or even used clothing from a 2nd hand shop is better for that reason too PLUS you’re reusing! :-)  Of course I’d LOVE to buy everything non-toxic, organic, or at least natural but that’s really expensive.  So, like you said, to each his own, do what you can.  I shall try to remember to look for the book the next time we’re back in the States.

  • http://twitter.com/OnGreenCarpet On Green Carpet

    I’m adding this book to my wishlist now, thanks for the info! Sounds really great!