Definition of “Toxic-Free”

toxic

adjective

The word toxic refers to the damage caused by a poison. It is used to describe both the poison itself having the ability to damage, and the body that has been damaged.

It comes from the Greek word toxon, which means “bow”, as in bow and arrow. The Greek term toxikon pharmakon means “poison arrows” made with the natural poison from the poison dart frog. These were used in hunting, the poison being an aid to killing the animal. So something “toxic” has the character of a bow, being a weapon to kill things.

nontoxic

adjective

Things nontoxic will not cause damage to the body.

toxic or toxicant

noun

A toxic or toxicant is a manmade toxic agent, a poison.

Note that a toxin is a naturally-occurring poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, such as the Botulinus toxin. Frequently this word is used incorrectly to refer to a manmade poison when the word toxic or toxicant should have been used.

intoxicate

verb

To have manmade poisons introduced from the outside inside one’s body, especially in amounts that cause body functions to be impaired.

Though this word also has the definitions of causing someone to lose control of their faculties or behavior, and to excite or exhilarate, and it is generally exclusively used in reference to alcoholic beverages, the original root of the word is “to put a poison into.” And this applies to all poisons. We quite literally are intoxicated by toxic chemicals we are exposed to every day.

toxicity

noun

The toxicity of a poison is the relative degree of harm caused by it.

toxicology

noun

Toxicology is the science of poisons and their effects, particularly on living systems.

toxicologist

noun

A toxicologist is one who practices toxicology.

[Early in my career I called myself a “nontoxicologist,” being one who practices the field of what isn’t toxic.]

free

  1. not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes without hindrance or restraint
  • not subject to domination
  • not being imprisoned or enslaved
  1. not physically restrained, obstructed, or impeded
  2. (free from) not being subject to or affected by (a particular undesirable thing)
  3. (-free) not containing a specified substance
  4. having the power of self-determination—the ability to make one’s own decisions, act independently of circumstances, and dictate one’s own future

toxic-free
[my general definition]

adjective

  1. an object—such as a product, a home, or a body—that does not contain toxic chemicals
  2. being free from exposure to toxic chemicals
  3. being free from contamination with toxic chemicals
  4. being free from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals to body, mind, and spirit
  5. being free from the oppression of toxic chemicals and able to manage the risks associated with them
  6. having the intent to be healthy, even while living in a toxic world

Toxic-Free

In my work, I have made a decision to use the word “toxic-free” to refer to products made from materials and substances that are not toxic.

When I first started writing on this subject in 1982, the word “toxic-free” did not exist. Products that were considered to be not harmful to health were called “nontoxic.” But there never has been any legal definition of nontoxic with regard to product labeling.

“Toxic-free” came into use after the suffix “-free” began to be used on product labels of all kinds to show products were free from undesirables. It clearly meant “this undesirable ingredient [whatever it was] is not in this product.” And so toxic-free means this as well.

It’s very difficult to prove a product “will not cause harm.” It is much easier and more accurate, in my opinion, to identify that certain products do not contain a known list of materials and substances known to be toxic, which is what I have been doing since day one.

Toxic-free is correctly used with a hyphen between the two words. This is known as a “compound adjective” and is placed before a noun.

  • a toxic-free product would be one made from materials and substances that are not toxic
  • a toxic-free packaging  would be one made from materials and substances that are not toxic
  • a toxic-free facility be would be a space that is made from materials and substances that are not toxic and where toxic materials and substances are not used, which makes toxic-free products
  • a toxic-free business would be one that makes and sells toxic-free products in a toxic-free facility and would use toxic-free products in other aspects of its business
  • a toxic-free store would be a space that is made from materials and substances that are not toxic and sells toxic-free products
  • a toxic-free consumer would purchase toxic-free products
  • a toxic-free home would be made from toxic free materials and substances and filled with toxic-free products.

I encourage everyone to adopt this usage so we can have a word in the English language that describes this state of being free from harm.

NOTE: “Green” does not mean “toxic-free”

Many products are labeled “green” but green doesn’t always mean “toxic free.” Indeed, most often it doesn’t.

“Green” means “better for the environment.” Toxic-free is one aspect of “better for the environment” but there are many others.

A product could be made of toxic recycled materials and be called “green” because of its recycled content.

A toxic lightbulb could save energy and be called green because it saves energy. Indeed, the whole field of Indoor Air Quality was established in the 1990’s after “energy-saving” homes became so tight that toxic vapors that had previously been ventilated out instead stayed in homes and built up to high levels.

But some green products are toxic-free. Just check the ingredients to find out.

Labeling of Products as “Toxic-Free”

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the claim of “toxic-free” applies only to those specific materials and substances that are combined together to make the product [See Section 260.9 Free-Of Claims of the FTC Green Guides].

Therefore, in my opinion, manufacturers should use this guideline when labeling or referring to their products as toxic-free and retailers should use this guideline when writing sales copy about products.

But there is more to toxics in products than then ingredients of which they are made.

My recommendation is that the following terminology be used

TOXIC-FREE PRODUCT refers to the materials and substances combined together to make the product.

TOXIC-FREE PACKAGE refers to the materials and substances combined together to make the package.

TOXIC-FREE FACILITY refers to a facility that is free from toxic materials or substances in which the product or package is made, plus any processes used to make the product.

TOXIC-FREE ENVIRONMENT refers to the quality of air, water, and soil in the natural environment from which the materials or substances used to make the product are taken.

A complete review of a toxic-free product would include a review of all four levels of possible exposure.

Today products that consider all four levels are few and far between. But this is the goal we need to be working toward to be truly toxic free.

For now, it is a tremendous improvement to simply identify and eliminate the most toxic ingredients in consumer products.