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Ready for Flu Season? Think Again

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By Jane Glenn Haas

RISMEDIA, Oct. 28, 2008- (MCT)-So you’ve had your flu shot, right? Maybe even bought an air purifier? Bring on the germs. You’re ready for winter. Not.

Despite all those precautions to boost your immune system and protect your health, you might get sick anyway.

Toxic chemicals in our everyday lives often are intensified at this time and can actually cause cold and flu-like symptoms, says Debra Lynn Dadd.

Dadd, dubbed “the Queen of Green” by The New York Times, is the author of “Home Safe Home.” Her Web site, dld123.com, carries many tips on readying your house for winter.

Q. You say our bodies are bombarded with toxic chemicals that are “immunotoxicants” and weaken our immune system. And combustion byproducts from turning on the gas furnace can cause flu-like symptoms. How do we avoid this exposure?

A. Well, there are five simple things you can do to start:

- Open a window. We tend to keep them closed during the winter but it’s good to open one every now and then to let toxic fumes from heaters out and fresh air in.

- Avoid disinfectants. These aerosols can contain many immunotoxicants that reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection from the germs they are killing. Use hot water or tea tree oil instead.

- Eliminate non-stick cookware. A study from the Environmental Working Group through West Virginia University found people with a higher level in their blood of a chemical found in Teflon had lower levels of a key protein that keeps the immune system strong. Use cast iron, clay, porcelain enamel, glass or one of the PFOA-free “green pans.”

- Remove permanent markers. They contain immunotoxicants.

- Sleep on untreated cotton or linen sheets. All polyester/cotton and permanent press cotton sheets are treated with a formaldehyde finish that can’t be removed and that can cause runny noses, itchy eyes and other cold and flu-like symptoms.

Q. Wow. Seems fairly simple- except for wrinkled sheets. But can we live toxic-free?

A. No, that’s not possible. But we can reduce our exposure. My book and Web site outline many ways to protect yourself. And by the way, I don’t like to iron, either. I live in Florida and use cotton flannel sheets.

Q. Seems as if you are asking us to eliminate many of the “advances” of recent years.

A. Since World War II, we have added many substances _ like permanent press. All of these substances exist in nature as crude oil or coal, but we are not exposed to these materials in their natural state. The molecules are broken up and recombined into other things. The body will detoxify to a certain degree, but too much and it can’t cope.

Q. Worry about toxic substances could be all-consuming, however.

A. Sometimes people are shocked at what they are exposed to daily. But do what you can do to eliminate toxins and don’t worry about the rest. I started on this 20 years ago and have had noticeable health benefits.

Q. Why are you called “the Queen of Green?”

A. I think because I have been doing this longer than anybody and I have more information. In the beginning, nobody was talking about toxic chemicals or the environment. There was not a book like “Home Safe Home.”

Q. Is the book up-to-date?

A. I am constantly updating it. And the latest information is always on my Web site.

Q. Cotton flannel sheets? Even in the summer?

A. Trust me. You’ll love them.

© 2008, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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