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Are there toxins hiding in plain sight?

An eye-opening look at everything we learned about chemicals, toxins, and clean living at the EWG Clean & Healthy Living Summit.

I recently started looking into ways I could switch to a cleaner lifestyle, as there has been something of a cloud of guilt over my head for some time now. Every day as I commute to work in my gas-fueled car noticing the hazy, smog-filled skies, I keep asking myself: How can I do my part to help make a difference?

EWG Clean and Healthy Living Summit

With that question in mind, I recently attended the EWG Clean & Healthy Living Summit in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment—a.k.a., “the people’s protectors.” The immersive day-long program of talks and panel discussions focused on providing useful information and tips on how we can create a cleaner and healthier future.

Nneka Leiba, V.P. of Healthy Living Science

I have to admit, it was rather eye-opening learning just how many toxins we are exposed to in our everyday lives. Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D, a senior scientist from the EWG, shared an EWG study that revealed that 287 chemicals were found in the blood of mothers’ umbilical cords. Of those chemicals, 180 are known to cause cancer, 217 can be toxic for our brains, and 208 can cause birth defects. But as Dr. Stoiber explained, we can help minimize the amount of chemicals we expose ourselves (and our future children!) to by making small changes in our lives, such as eating organic, switching from plastic to glass, and using a filter for tap water.

Pipette Baby Balm

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that there are day-to-day items I interact with that are toxic. But some caught me by surprise. Learning that potentially harmful chemicals are likely present in the vast majority of my home—in things like my mattress, couch and carpet—was a bit shocking. Thankfully, the EWG has created an online ‘Home Guide,’ which helps you learn how to avoid these potentially health-harming chemicals at home and suggests easy, inexpensive changes that can make your household safer.

EWG participant at the Amyris booth

Poosh founder Kourtney Kardashian was another speaker at the event, and she shared with us why she chose to switch to a cleaner lifestyle. Kardashian explained that it all started when she found out she was pregnant with her first child, Mason. Everyone told her the baby products she planned to use were the best products, but she soon discovered that they actually were not safe for kids—a fact she learned when she started using the EWG’s Skin Deep database to find products that would be safe for her and her children.

Ken Cook, the president of EWG

Stephanie Shepherd, a well-known influencer, clean living advocate, and close friend of the Kardashian family, also spoke at the summit. Shepherd expressed how important it is for other social media influencers and celebrities to use their reach and influence to demand stricter personal care standards. Just last year, Kourtney Kardashian spoke on Capitol Hill demanding for stricter personal care regulations, as they haven’t been updated in over 80 years! Currently the US only bans 12 potential harmful ingredients from its personal care products, whereas the European Union bans about 1,400.

There is clearly a lot still to be done—but I left the summit feeling inspired by the work that the EWG is doing to demand cleaner products and keep consumers safe. To learn more about products that go way above and beyond US safety guidelines, check out the complete list of EWG Verified™ products here.

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