First, what you do with the information below is up to you. I know when I first learned about the myriad of products that may be harmful to my health I was overwhelmed. That’s not the intention of this blog. I’m going to expose a few of the offending home products that contain harsh chemicals to help you get started on your pathway to better health.
Most of these products are cancer causing or contribute to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Endometriosis, ADHD, Autism, and the list goes on. The good news is a few simple actions we take at home can greatly reduce our toxic exposures. We also don’t have to live an austere life to avoid some products that might switch on genes vulnerable to these diseases.
Start with what makes the most sense to you and think about making the switch to healthier versions of these products:
1. Plastic food and beverage containers
Plastic food and beverage containers tend to leach chemicals like hormone-disrupting BPA and phthalates. Extreme heat or simply long-term use makes contamination more likely. Play it safe and avoid plastics at home, replacing them with glass or stainless-steel containers.
2. Conventional cosmetics
The American cosmetic industry uses more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals, including over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union.
Women use an average of 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily. Many cosmetic chemicals are designed to penetrate into the skin’s inner layers, which they do. Most of us now have industrial plasticizers called phthalates; parabens, which are preservatives; and persistent fragrance components like musk xylene in our bodies. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website for more information.
3. Vinyl shower curtains
Vinyl, or PVC, is considered one of the most toxic products we use. Often made from chemicals like lead, mercury, and phthalates, its creation, use, and disposal contaminates the environment. Once exposed to your shower’s heat and humidity, these chemicals enter the air you breathe, so consider swapping your vinyl curtain with one made of certified organic cotton or get a glass enclosure.
4. Microwavable popcorn
Microwavable popcorn bags are often coated with PFCs (perfluorochemicals)—a class of chemicals widely used in water, grease, and stain repellents. PFCs have been linked to cancer, hypothyroidism, birth defects, and immune issues. Homemade organic popcorn with organic or hormone-free butter and Celtic or Himalayan sea salt tastes much better. An air popper is quick and easy to use, too!
5. Air fresheners
Advertisers have convinced Americans that we need their products to mask natural scents in our homes. Unless we have rotting food or other problem odors, such products are really unnecessary. Both aerosols and plug-in air fresheners often contain hundreds of chemicals. Largely unregulated by the FDA, these ingredients are anyone’s guess. Even air deodorizers labeled green, unscented, or all natural can emit hazardous chemicals, particularly hormone-disrupting phthalates.
As America’s toxic chemical soup continues to expand, people are becoming more and more sensitive to off-gassing from these products. Some people seem to be the canaries in the coal mine. Something that is a minor irritation to one may become a life-threatening exposure to another. It benefits us all to use the increasing list of options that are both safe and effective.