Did you know that our home is one of the most toxic environments that we are exposed to throughout our lives? If you find this a little shocking you are not alone! Studies conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency have found that the air inside our home is two to five times more toxic than the air outside. With most of us spending around 90% of our time inside our homes, the cleaner the air the better.
It can be a little overwhelming, looking around your home and wondering where to even start to reduce the toxins in your household and in the process some of the worst offenders often get overlooked. So we have compiled this list of common household items that can contribute to poor air quality in your home and affect your health, making it a little easier for you to create a healthier, happier home.
Air Fresheners & Candles
As wonderful as they smell though, studies show that they’re damaging to our health and that they’re one of the biggest causes of air pollution within our home. This is due to the synthetic fragrances they contain which is a blanket label used for over 3,000 chemicals that can be listed only as “fragrance” on ingredient labels. These toxic chemicals include benzene derivatives, formaldehyde, parabans, phthalates and many more. Many of them are linked to cancer, central nervous system disorders, allergic reactions, birth defects and hormone disruption. And they can have short term effects including headaches, dizziness, asthma and nausea.
Currently the FDA does not require manufacturers of air fresheners and candles to list the ingredients that they are using to scent their products, so you can never be certain which toxic chemicals they contain. You can easily make your own air fresheners and candles at home using pure high quality essential oils and natural products like beeswax, or there are many great all-natural alternatives on the market. Just make sure that they come with an ingredient list and that you check it thoroughly!
Non Stick Cookware
Most non stick pans have coatings that are made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a toxic chemical that studies have shown can cause cancer. When you cook with your non stick pan, the PFOA emits toxic fumes that you can easily inhale and with constant use it can flake away from the pan and disperse through your food. If you’ve ever owned a non stick pan you would have noticed the coating eventually lifts away and this ends up straight in our bodies when we eat the food that’s cooked in it. Throwing your PFOA laden cookware in the bin is a step towards protecting the health of you and family and there are many great toxin free non stick pans on the market that you can use instead.
Cosmetics & Personal Care Products
Each day we slather on moisturisers, lipsticks, makeup, deodorant and skin care products and the ingredients in these are absorbed into our bodies. According to one of the leading public health advocacy organisations, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average woman uses 12 personal care and/or cosmetics products each day which contain 168 different chemicals. With men using on average 6 products containing 85 chemicals and teens using the most with the average being 17 products daily.
Some of the common toxic chemicals used in these products include parabans, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), toluene, benzenes and many more. These toxic chemicals are linked to hormone disruption, reproductive defects, cancer and allergies. You can easily reduce your daily exposure to these chemicals by using natural toxin-free alternatives and you may be surprised to find that are just as effective, if not more so!
Most conventional household cleaning products are packed with toxic chemicals that pollute the air in your home and you ultimately end up breathing them in. Some manufacturers claim that small amounts of these chemicals are safe, but when you are using these products regularly the constant exposure over time can cause some of the toxins to build up within our bodies and adversely affect our health .
Clearing out your cleaning cupboard of products filled with harmful chemicals and replacing them natural toxin-free alternatives goes a long way in helping to reduce the toxic load in your home. You can easily make your own natural cleaning products or there are many great alternatives available if you don’t have the time to do so. One of our favourite natural cleaning brands is Lil Bit.
Have you ever gotten a headache from perfume? If you have you are not alone! A recent study by the University of Melbourne found that one in three Australian’s report adverse health effects from fragrance products, including migraine headaches, asthma attacks and skin irritation. These reactions are often due to the many toxic synthetic chemicals used to make perfumes and they don’t have to be disclosed on the label.
There are over 3,000 different chemicals that are allowed to be labelled just as “fragrance” in ingredient lists and many of them have never been tested for safety. Some of these chemicals have been linked to hormone disruption, cancer, reproductive problems, allergies and more. Using a natural toxin-free perfume will reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals and you won’t be exposing the people around you to them either.
Plastic Drink Bottle & Food Containers
The plastics that these products are made of often contain bisphenol-A (BPA) which is a synthetic compound with toxic health effects that are well documented in medical literature. Several studies have found that it is a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen, with the findings showing that it affects hormone balance and causes male and female reproductive dysfunction.
The BPA in plastic water bottles and plastic food containers leeches out when they are heated. Heating food up in these containers or leaving your water bottle in a hot car is a big no-no if you want to limit your exposure to BPA. Although it’s almost impossible to completely avoid BPA as it’s used in so many products, using a reusable BPA free water bottle and glass food containers to heat your food can help to reduce your daily exposure to this harmful compound.
Completely eliminating toxins from your home is virtually impossible but by removing even some of these common household items, you will be reducing the overall toxic burden in your home and helping to make your home a safer, healthier space for you and your family to enjoy.