Spring Into Your Summer Toxin Free

By Emmy Katz

Here in the Northeast the seasons can change with the blink of an eye, and while the calendar reads April, we know that Summer is just around the corner.   I recently shared some of my tips with The Stram Center, in their Monthly Newsletter.  The Stram Center is an Integrative & Functional Medicine Practice in Upstate NY where I am currently practicing.   To welcome the warm weather and prep for the Summer months I am sharing these recommendations to help keep you and your loved ones happy, healthy, and toxin free.  

1. Green Up Your Lawn Practices: Keep your lawn safe to enjoy! Why does it matter? Well, the chemicals in pesticides migrate into groundwater, and even through the air.  Here are some easy practices to implement:

  • Remember to remove your shoes when you enter your home. We track harmful pesticide particles indoors on our shoes.  
  • Choose natural organic fertilizers, and use sparingly in the early Spring. Use white vinegar to kill weeds or better yet, Weed Manually- it’s a good workout!
  • Spread the word and encourage your neighbors to avoid pesticides and harmful chemicals.  
  • In a more rural environment? Get some guinea hens! They are considered one of the most effective exterminators of pests (with a benefit of some free range eggs).  

2. Test Your Water: We are constantly telling patients to drink more water, but the quality is just as important as the quantity.  Water can be over chlorinated, contain bacteria, pesticides, lead, or other substances. To ensure you are drinking safe water I suggest you gather some data.  You can request a Consumer Confidence Report from your water supplier, and consider testing your water at a lab like National Testing Labs.

3. Tips and Toes: Dare to go bare! If you can’t stand the thought of missing your favorite Summer nail color, at least avoid the toxic brands of nail polish, as most tend to contain dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde you say? The scary thing is that YES, this carcinogen is found in many brands. Opt for a safer brand such as Scotch Naturals or Honeybee Gardens. Not sure how safe your polish is? Check out the ratings on Environmental Working Group database.  

4. Bugs be Gone: We recently held a workshop at Laney & Lu Cafe entitled “The Trouble With Bugs” where we talked about organisms we want to protect ourselves against, natural bug repellents, and using essential oils as first line of defense. Workshop participants also went home with their personal blend of repellent, bug salve, and spray (along with recipes to make more!) We suggest you try making your own first, but if you aren’t interested in doing so, you can also check out the RAD Soap Brand which carries safe and natural insect repellent for you (and your furry friends!) We use this amazing brand of products in the Stram Center including items for overall skincare. This brand was created when Sue Kerber wanted to develop a natural remedy to relieve her son’s eczema. The repellent spray contains non-GMO food grade oils including hemp seed, rosemary and garlic as well as lemongrass and other natural deterrents.  Whatever spray you use, PLEASE avoid anything containing DEET and always remember to check yourself (and your furry companions) for bites or ticks after each outing. Stay tuned for next week's post on making your own bug repellents at home!

5. Enjoy the Sun: We want you to get outside, get moving and absorb the beneficial rays which are essential for vitamin D production in the skin.  But remember, it only takes 15-20 minutes of exposure (bare arms, legs) to reap the benefits! Too much exposure is never a good thing, and we know that long term exposure can impact our immune system, skin health, and even contribute to dangerous cancers such as melanoma. So what do we do? Protection is the key, but we want to avoid the harsh chemicals and hormone disrupters that many of the conventional sunscreens can contain. Watch out for oxybenzone, a known hormone disruptor, and retinyl palmitate. Always use a physical barrier like long sleeve shirts, and hats to protect your face. If you are exposed to a considerable amount of sun and have sensitive skin, you likely need to apply sunscreen.  Start by doing your homework and compare brands using Environmental Working Group website.  EWG is about to publish their 10th annual sunscreen guide and is a wonderful resource for sunscreen 101.

Staying conscious and mindful of the products we're buying and using on our bodies and in our environments is easy once you make it part of your routine. How can you upgrade your outdoor kit? Let us know in the comment section below. 


Emmy is a Physician Assistant, Holistic Health Coach, and co-founder of Wild Adventurous Life. By day she works as Physician Assistant in a Integrative and Functional Medicine Practice, and by all the times in between she is scheming up adventures for WAL. 


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