There’s been mounting evidence suggesting that some chemicals in common household products can actually put you at a higher risk of serious health complications, from infertility and birth defects to certain types of cancer. At the moment, there are nearly 300 environmental chemicals found in humans, including many used in everyday products, monitored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When these toxic substances accumulate in the body over time, they undermine your health on many levels.
Although you can’t completely protect yourself from exposure to environmental toxins, you can at least reduce the damage they do to your and your family’s health by throwing away the common products they’re found in or replacing these with safer and healthier versions.
- Air fresheners
Air fresheners, including sprays, plug-in scents and scented candles, contain dangerous chemicals known as phthalates, which have been found to cause hormonal imbalances, reproductive issues and birth defects because everything you breathe in, ends up in your bloodstream. As an alternative, use candles made with essential oils as well as house plants, like jasmine, to scent your home. Baking soda and white vinegar combination is also great for removing unpleasant odors.
- Plastic food containers
Not many people know that plastic disintegrates over time, which leads to toxin release into your food. Most plastic containers are made of phthalates, chemicals which seriously affect endocrine system function and cause hormonal imbalance. Therefore, storing, especially heating your food in such containers is a big no-no. A much safer way to store your food is switching to glass containers.
- Nonstick pans
Although their maintenance is much simpler, nonstick pans normally contain a chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), identified as a potent carcinogen in laboratory animals. Plus, the polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) used in Teflon pan coating releases toxic gases at high temperatures. These gases are known to cause reproductive issues, cancers and other health problems. Cast iron or stainless steel cookware is much safer options.
- Cleaning products
Cleaning products are normally packed with toxic ingredients including phthalates and chemical surfactants. In addition, some of these also contain chemicals such as bleach or ammonia, which give off toxic fumes that cause respiratory problems. In order to prevent toxin buildup in your home, use natural products like baking soda, Borax, soap powder, vinegar, lemon and hot water, all of which are just as efficient.
- Dryer sheets and other fabric softeners
The chemicals found in dryer sheets or fabric softeners leave a thin layer of dangerous chemicals on your clothes, the most common one being quaternary ammonium salts, which trigger skin irritation and rashes, respiratory distress, nausea, headaches and even vomiting. Adding wool balls or an old sweater in the wash can effectively eliminate wrinkles and static on your clothes.
- Antibacterial soaps
Soaps as well as other antibacterial products are packed with toxic chemicals. Plus, these products are targeted at all bacteria, good and bad, which can interfere with your body’s own immune response to foreign invaders. A safer and healthier alternative is using environmentally friendly soap and water.
Antiperspirants are commonly laden with aluminum-based compounds and other toxic substances, such as parabens, which are absorbed into the sweat glands. There are numerous studies that support the negative health implications these chemicals bring on. As an alternative, use aluminum-free antiperspirants, as well as chemical-free brands of natural deodorant sticks and sprays that don’t contain parabens.