Your house is supposed to be a relaxing and safe environment. It is a place you can sleep, eat and lounge about comfortably with your family and friends. Your home is not supposed to be an incubator for illness, disease, birth defects and toxic consumption... but it just might be. While you relax on your flame retardant filled sofa, grab a water bottle and plastic food container, you may be unknowingly poisoning yourself and your environment. Seemingly innocent or even costly items like candles, mothballs, carpets, antibacterial soap and beauty products contain hundreds of chemicals that are absorbed into your body and atmosphere after every use. Many of these common products have long term effects on your health and anyone else enjoying the daily experience of your home, including your pets. Take a look around the room; do you own any of these harmful products?
16 Non-stick cookware
Teflon cookware seemed like a kitchen miracle: gone were the days you had to soak and scrub your pans away. Seems too good to be true? It is. Recent studies have found that the main chemical used in non-stick cookware, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) becomes a toxic gas that leaks into your vegetable stir-fry meal as it heats. Long-term exposure to PFTE gas has been linked to cancer, organ failure and birth defects. Cast iron pans, thermolon-coated pans and stainless steel are less hazardous alternatives. Cooking with oil and butter also pose a less cancerous risk to your next healthy meal plan.
15 Air fresheners
Like candles, air fresheners are common throughout the household. Whether they attach to your plug or you spray them into the air with an aerosol can, the chemicals of this laboratory created scent are released into the air causing severe respiratory damage. Similar to body products, the fragrance ingredients found in synthetic air fresheners cause more of a problem than they solve. A common ingredient called phthalates, have been linked to birth defects and hormone imbalance. It seems that the best way is the natural way, with less chemical interference and more environmental balance.
Like gas stoves, candles can release odorless and colorless toxins into the air. Ironically, you might light a candle to breathe in a fresh, inviting scent but you may be inviting more than you bargained for into your body. Beeswax, vegetable oil and paraffin candles all release carbon chemicals when lit. Paraffin candles are the most toxic, seeing as though their base ingredient is extracted from petroleum or coal. The ingredient Acrolein is then added to solidify the bleached product. Does “Acrolein” sound familiar? Maybe that is because it has been linked to lung cancer and is a leading agent in cigarettes. Once burning, the candle releases carcinogens known as benzene and toluene. Maybe rethink the next time you want to add some vanilla spice into you air and crack open a window instead.
There is nothing better than a new carpet smell… except for the fact that it could lead to your death. The chemicals contained in carpets like toluene, bromine, benzene, formaldehyde, ethyl benzene, styrene, and acetone can cause birth defects and liver and kidney disease after long-term exposure. While these chemicals pose a severe health risk, carpets in general are magnets for other waste. The fashionable accessory captures and holds onto dust mites, dirt and traces of pesticides and metals dragged into the house from the bottom of your shoes. If you have a carpet, make sure to clean it thoroughly and frequently.
12 Plastic food containers
Plastic food containers are simple, easy and in everyone’s kitchen by the dozen. However, the convenience comes at a price. While you munch on yesterday’s leftovers you could be increasing your risk of cancer. Similarly to plastic water bottles, the plastic in your food containers have hazardous BPA chemicals. These chemicals leak into your food after the plastic wears down. Heating the plastic in the microwave or putting the containers in the dishwasher wear down the plastic faster and could be increasing your risk of ingesting harmful chemicals. Stainless steel or glass containers are a safe and equally convenient alternative.
11 Gas Stove
While gas stoves are all the rage, cooking on one can be cancerous to you and your dinner guests. Any type of combustion emits certain gases and this kitchen item is known to release nitrogen dioxide, acrolein, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide into your room’s air. All of these chemicals have been linked to respiratory problems and even cancer. While gas stoves are often cheaper than electric ones, they pose a bigger threat to you and your meal. Tip: Be sure to research any product that involves combustion, as the gases they emit are hazardous to your health more often than not.
10 Cleaning Products
Conventional cleaning products are extremely toxic in general. They contain ingredients like bleach, ammonia, detergents and acidic ingredients that have numerous health risks and are a threat to the environment. Flushing these chemicals down your sinks and toilets pollute the aquatic ecosystems and have a circular effect, meaning they comes back to us as low level traces found in our tap water and either through drinking directly or cleaning our fruits and vegetables are ingested again. Prolonged exposure to any of these ingredients can cause kidney and liver damage, respiratory problems and cancer. If they are ingested or mixed with other chemicals they can be deadly. Using all natural cleansers is a much safer alternative.
Flame-retardants are meant to keep us safe. Unbeknownst to many they are actually doing the opposite. Sprayed into the foam of your love seats, sofas and couches, these chemicals are being absorbed into your body every time you are in contact with them. Every time you eat on the couch, read a book on your favorite seat or take a nap on the sofa, you are increasing your risk of cancer, infertility and birth defects. Fortunately, flame-retardants’ toxic chemicals were recently banned in the United States. If you are purchasing a new living room piece, make sure TB 117- 2013 is on the label, this insures that there are no toxic chemicals present in your new furniture.
8 Furniture Polish and Stain
Furniture polish and wood stain keep your house looking, well, polished. Unfortunately, this comes at a huge health risk. They often contain phenol and nitrobenzene, two chemicals that can be absorbed by your skin and over a period of time exposure can lead to skin and other forms of cancer. The petroleum-based ingredients are also neurotoxic and can lead to depression and other abnormalities of the central nervous system. These chemicals are also highly flammable so opting for a homemade polish might be more enjoyable.
7 Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets give a friendly warm smell to your clothes. Keep in mind, as with beauty products, anything with fragrance often contains undeclared hazardous ingredients. Not only wasteful, dryer sheets also coat your newly washed clothes in animal fat. Stearic acid, its formal name, is what makes your clothes feel soft. Carcinogens like acetaldehyde and benzene have also been found in dryer sheets. Dryer sheets are also harmful to household pets because of their positively charged elements. They can cause drooling, appetite loss and possibly oral burns. Hanging your clothes up on a line or opting for a wool dryer ball is a safer option for you and your pets.
6 Plastic Water Bottles
Plastic water bottles are extremely convenient. Need to run out for an errand? Grab a bottle from the fridge and stay refreshed all day. Unfortunately, plastic is bad for the environment and your health. The plastic used for water bottles has pores, meaning bacteria can creep into your bottle and mouth every swig you take. It is also made with Bisphenol A (BPA), which mimics estrogen and can cause cancer. When you re-use or store plastic bottles, the chemicals DEHA and benzyl butyl phthalate are known to begin leaking from the plastic into your water. Both elements are known to disrupt hormones and have been labeled possible human carcinogens. Next time you run an errand, you might want to take a minute and fill up a reusable, BPA-free water bottle.
5 Antibacterial Soap
Antibacterial soap was every parents’ miracle germ killer a few years ago with the advent of avian and swine flues. However, the United Sates Food and Drug Agency has since revealed that it is no more effective than regular soap. In fact, it may be even more harmful. The antibacterial chemicals consistently fight germs, resisting antibiotic bacteria and decreasing the effectiveness of your immune system. The most common ingredient, triclosan, has also been linked to hormone disruption which can lead to cancer. It’s time to ditch the false hope and the so-called “soap” and retreat back to your old favourite bar of lather.
4 Shower Cleaner
Shower cleaners are made to scrub the grub, keeping you and your bathtub sparkling. The harsh chemicals found in conventional cleaners are extremely unforgiving on your respiratory system, skin and environment. Bleach and ammonia are common ingredients found in this cleaner and have been linked to hormone disruption and cancer. Make sure not to mix different shower cleaners together, especially those that contain the two toxic ingredients, bleach or ammonia. This mix can create a reaction forming chloramine vapor that can harm your eyes, mucous membranes and can cause extreme damage to your lungs. Cleaning your shower with an all-natural or homemade scrub may take longer but your lungs and hormones will thank you later.
3 Moth Balls
You may need to check your attic before you read about this deadly household product. Mothballs, used by your grandmother and perhaps even your mother, are extremely dangerous. The product meant to dissuade the pesky insects from chomping on your great-aunt’s wedding gown is created with an ingredient called naphthalene. It has been discovered that long-term exposure to naphthalene, whether it be skin contact, inhaling or ingesting, can cause severe liver and brain damage. Mother’s with prolonged contact are at risk of birth defects. Please do yourself a favour and throw your mothballs away because the damage they prevent is not worth the bodily harm they cause!
2 Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent is meant to clean the clothes that are in constant contact with your skin. Why would a soap meant to help keep you hygienic be hazardous to your health? Sodium lauryl sulfate, a chemical commonly found in liquid laundry detergent, has been classified as a possible human carcinogen and a skin irritant by Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. Trisodium nitrilotriacetate is another chemical that has been labeled a possible human carcinogen. Traces can also be found in your drinking water, drained from your washing machines and into the nearest body of water. It’s believed that trisodium nitrilotriacetate levels are low enough not to pose a human health threat, but can cause heavy metals that are toxic to fish and other wildlife.
1 Cosmetics and Beauty Products
Before work a shower and quick shampoo might be in your morning routine. What about moisturizer, makeup and a quick nail polish touch up? Your body has absorbed almost 10 products and it isn’t even eight a.m. yet. Unbeknownst to many, the products you use on your skin on a daily basis can contain extremely toxic chemicals. The cosmetic industry is highly unregulated and the ingredients used in these products are absorbed into your skin and body. Most deodorants, shampoos, body wash and cosmetics like blushes, lipstick and foundation contain parabens. This chemical helps conserve the product, delaying mold and bacteria and has been found to contribute to breast cancer. Fragrance, a broad term used by companies to protect their chemical formula, has been linked to allergies and can effect the reproduction system.
Sources: alternet.org, healwithfood.org, alternet.org, salon.com, salon.com, moneycrashers.com, globalhealingcenter.com, nrdc.org, housebeautiful.com, care2.com, alternet.org, salon.com, environment.nationalgeographic.com, alternet.org, alternet.org, epa.gov, davidsuzuki.org, huffingtonpost.com