top of page
  • nicolehartwyk

Are these five common household toxins lurking in your home?




Our homes should be sanctuaries of safety and comfort, yet the unfortunate truth is that hidden toxins can often lurk within their walls, compromising our health and wellbeing. Here, we delve into five common household toxins, what they can do to our health, and the steps we can take to avoid them. We love using non-toxic products because they smell great without an overpowering smell!


The first is Triclosan. This antimicrobial agent, once prevalent in hand soaps and sanitizers, has been linked to endocrine dysfunction, immune suppression, and the exacerbation of antibiotic resistance. Despite partial bans, triclosan persists in many products labeled as "antibacterial". Research suggests that its ability to penetrate biological barriers, including the blood-brain barrier, could lead to significant health issues (1).

 

Here are a few ways you can avoid triclosan in your home:

 

Natural Hand Soaps: Opt for hand soaps labeled as "triclosan-free". Many brands now offer natural or organic hand soaps made with essential oils that provide antimicrobial properties without the harmful effects of triclosan. Ingredients like tea tree oil, eucalyptus, and lavender have natural antibacterial properties.

 

Alcohol-based Sanitizers: Instead of triclosan-based sanitizers, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content. Alcohol is effective at killing germs and bacteria without the adverse effects associated with triclosan.


DIY Cleaning Solutions: For household cleaning, consider making your own cleaning solutions using vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. These natural ingredients can clean surfaces effectively without the need for harsh chemicals.

 

Physical Removal of Germs: Remember that thorough washing with plain soap and water is highly effective at removing germs and dirt from hands and surfaces. The mechanical action of scrubbing with soap and rinsing with water physically removes bacteria and viruses.

 

Next are Phthalates. These chemicals, added to plastics to increase their flexibility, are common in vinyl flooring and food packaging. Phthalates are notorious for their endocrine-disrupting effects, which can lead to reproductive, developmental, and hormonal problems (2).

 

Here are a few ways you can reduce phthalates in your home:

 

Phthalate-Free Flooring: Opt for phthalate-free materials in home renovations and interior design. Alternatives include natural hardwood, bamboo, cork, and ceramic tiles. These options not only reduce exposure to phthalates but also contribute to a more sustainable environment.

 

Natural Fiber Rugs and Mats: Choose rugs and mats made from natural fibers like wool, cotton, or jute instead of synthetic ones. Natural materials are less likely to contain phthalates.

 

Eco-Friendly Children's Toys: Look for toys made from natural materials such as wood, organic cotton, or food-grade silicone. These materials are safer for children and do not contain phthalates commonly found in plastic toys.

 

Avoiding Plastic Packaging: Whenever possible, choose fresh foods over processed ones to reduce exposure to phthalates in packaging. Use cloth bags, beeswax wraps, or glass containers for storing and carrying food.

 

 

Next is Bisphenol A (BPA). Commonly found in plastic containers and the linings of metal cans, BPA is an endocrine disruptor that can mimic the body's hormones and interfere with the endocrine system. This interference can result in various health problems, from reproductive issues to metabolic disorders (3).

 

Here are a few ways you can reduce BPA in your home:


Glass and Stainless Steel Containers: Switch to glass or stainless steel for food storage and drinking purposes. These materials do not contain BPA and are safer for both cold and hot foods and liquids.

 

BPA-Free Products: Look for products specifically labeled as "BPA-free." This is particularly important for plastic products, although it's still better to use alternatives to plastic when possible due to other potential chemicals.

 

Avoid Receipts: Many receipts are coated with BPA. Handle receipts as little as possible, and wash your hands after touching them. Opt for electronic receipts when available.

 

Natural Fiber Clothing and Products: BPA can be found in synthetic fabrics and products. Opt for natural fibers and materials when choosing clothing, bedding, and other textile products.

 

Next are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Present in air fresheners, paints, and cleaning products, VOCs can cause respiratory and neurological issues. The long-term exposure to these compounds can lead to more severe health risks, including organ damage and even cancer (4).

 

Here are a few ways you can reduce VOCs in your home:

 

Natural Air Fresheners: Instead of commercial air fresheners, use natural alternatives like essential oil diffusers, beeswax candles, or simply open windows to freshen indoor air. Indoor plants can also purify the air naturally.

 

Low-VOC or VOC-Free Paints: Opt for low-VOC or VOC-free paints for interior decorating. These paints minimize the release of harmful chemicals and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes.

 

Green Cleaning Products: Replace conventional cleaning products with those labeled as eco-friendly or green, which typically contain fewer harmful chemicals. You can also make your own cleaning solutions using vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.

 

Avoid Synthetic Fragrances: Synthetic fragrances in household products, including laundry detergents and fabric softeners, can emit VOCs. Look for fragrance-free or naturally scented alternatives.

 

Proper Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation when using products that may contain VOCs, such as during painting or cleaning. Using exhaust fans and opening windows can help dissipate harmful chemicals faster.


Solid Wood Furniture: Choose furniture made of solid wood instead of pressed wood products, which often contain VOCs due to the adhesives used in their manufacture.

 

Next are Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs). Used to make surfaces resistant to stains and water, PFCs are found in non-stick cookware and water-repellent fabrics. These chemicals have been associated with cancer, thyroid problems, and developmental issues, underscoring the necessity of cautious use and disposal (5).

 

Here are a few ways you can reduce PFCs in your home:

 

Swap Your Cookware for PFC-free alternatives, such as the following options:

- Ceramic cookware, which offers a non-stick surface without the harmful chemicals. Ensure that the ceramic is lead-free and complies with safety standards.

- Seasoned cast iron cookware, which provides a natural non-stick surface and is a durable alternative to non-stick pans that contain PFCs. 

- Stainless steel cookware, which, while not non-stick, is safe for cooking and does not release harmful chemicals. It's ideal for browning, boiling, and baking.

 

Natural Fiber Clothing: Choose clothing made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, or linen instead of synthetic fabrics that are often treated with PFCs for stain resistance.

 

GreenGuard Certified Furniture: When purchasing new furniture, look for items certified by GreenGuard, indicating lower chemical emissions, including reduced PFCs.

 

Wax or Silicone Food Wraps: Instead of using greaseproof paper or plastic wrap that may contain PFCs, use beeswax wraps or silicone lids for storing and covering food.

 

As you can see, the toxins present in our homes pose significant health risks. However, through informed choices and proactive measures, we can mitigate the impact of these toxins and foster a safer, healthier living environment for ourselves and our loved ones.


I would love to know your input! You don't have to switch out everything all at once! One thing at a time can make a difference. Every time you finish a product, try switching it out with a cleaner one! Send me a message if you need help finding some clean products, I would love to help you!



References


  1. Papavasilopoulos RK, Kang S. Bibliometric Analysis: The Effects of Triclosan on Human Health. Toxics. 2022 Sep 1;10(9):523. doi: 10.3390/toxics10090523. PMID: 36136489; PMCID: PMC9500643

  2. Hauser, R., & Calafat, A. M. (2005). Phthalates and human health. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62(11), 806–818. doi.org/10.1136/oem.2004.017590

  3. Konieczna, A., Rutkowska, A., & Rachoń, D. (2015). Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig, 66(1), 5-11. PMID: 25813067

  4. Tsai, W.-T. (2019). An overview of health hazards of volatile organic compounds regulated as indoor air pollutants. Reviews on Environmental Health, 34(1), 81–89. DOI: 10.1515/reveh-2018-0046

  5. Suja, F., Pramanik, B. K., & Zain, S. M. (2009). Contamination, bioaccumulation and toxic effects of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in the water environment: A review paper. Water Science and Technology, 60(6), 1533-1544. DOI: 10.2166/wst.2009.504

22 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page