Especially when you’ve taken deliberate steps to make healthier choices and eliminate chemicals and toxins from your home and lifestyle.
But the truth is that there are still products hiding household toxins so that you probably don’t even realize you’ve brought them into your home.
And scarier still? Some of them aren’t required to be on any label, so you could go your whole life and never know.
While a comprehensive list is too long for one article, here are eight of the most harmful household toxins, found in some of the most common products –
1. BPA. You may remember hearing about this household toxins in the context of plastic bottles, when it was announced that BPAs contribute to cancer and heart disease, among other things. And yes, many manufacturers went BPA-free during that time. But BPA is still used in the lining of cans – like the canned goods you pick up at the grocery store – at which point, they leech into your food.
2. Cadmium. If you want to do your part for the environment, you may have switched to rechargeable batteries. Normally, we’d applaud an environmentally sound choice like that, except in the case of rechargeable batteries, you’ve brought household toxins home. The cadmium used in them has been linked to higher rates of cancer, making it dangerous, not smart.
3. Flame retardants. Although flame retardants should make your life safer, they don’t help your health. These “safety” features often include three harmful household toxins: Tris, TCEP, and Penta-BDE. And don’t get complacent because you think fire retardants were made safer years ago. It was just a few years ago that dangerous levels of toxic chemicals were found in the flame retardant materials used in 84% of all couches in California.
4. Lead. The use of lead paint has been restricted. Lead in the water is constantly monitored. It would be easy to think you were in the clear. But if you wear lipstick, you need to think again. In a recent major study, every single lipstick researched was found to contain significant amounts of lead. Every single one.
5. PFOA. Also known as perfluorooctanoic acid, PFOA is what helps your food slide off the pan easily when you are cooking. It works wonderfully and makes clean up a breeze when you use nonstick cookware. It’s also a known carcinogen. While there is some debate around how much PFOA gets into your food when you cook, given that there are so many other options, including nonstick alternatives that work just as well, it simply isn’t worth the risk.
6. Pesticides. Of course you avoid pesticides in your foods! That the whole point of buying and eating organic. But are you also paying attention to the products you’re using on your lawn? Or how you’re keeping your home free of insects and bugs? Some of these pesticides are so dangerous that they are linked to cancers in children whose parents were exposed. Double check the labels on every bug spray, lawn fertilizer, grass seed, and even potting soil to make sure you aren’t causing more damage than good by using household toxins.
7. Triclosan. If you’re using anything labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” it’s time to find an alternative. From cutting boards to cleaning products – and so much more – antibacterial and antimicrobial products contain triclosan, which has been linked to higher risks of liver damage, hormone disruption, and cancer.
8. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. If you’ve ever painted a room in your house or the shutters around your windows, you know the distinctive smell that comes from the paint. What you may not know is that the odor isn’t the only thing being emitted from the paint. It’s also probably letting off VOCs. Literally thousands of products contain, therefore release, VOCs into the air. Paint, cleaning supplies, paint thinners, building materials…the list is too long to name all of them. Yet VOCs are known to cause cancer both in animals and in humans. While there are some alternatives, marked “low VOC”, they are still outnumbered by the dangerous ones. Look for the “low VOC” label and, when you can’t find an alternative, make sure you paint when you can open the windows and doors to insure proper ventilation.
The most frightening things about most of these household toxins is that they are found in products you’re choosing to improve your health and well being.
Instead, you’re achieving the exact opposite. However, now that you recognize the threat, you can make different – safer – choices.