Scientific studies now show that every symptom and illness can be associated with toxic chemicals we are exposed to in daily life—at home, at work, and in public places.
Fluoride in your tap water is known to cause cancer, phthalate emissions from your plastic shower curtain can disrupt your hormones, even your bed sheets can keep you awake at night from the formaldehyde in the permanent-press finish that causes insomnia.
So if you—or a family member or friend—have any kind of health problem, or are taking preventive actions to protect your current good health, reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals in your home is something you should be interested in and learn about.
How To Tell If Your Home Is Toxic
If you are living in an average American home, eating processed food from supermarkets, drinking and showering in tap water, wearing synthetic clothing, spraying pesticides to control bugs, and cleaning your house with supermarket cleaners, there’s no question that your home is toxic.
Unless you are specifically buying products that you have chosen to not be toxic, chances are the products you are purchasing contain toxic substances that go into your body as you breathe the air in your home, eat your favorite foods, and apply cleansers, cosmetics, and lotions to your skin.
If you have any ongoing symptoms of any kind, it’s likely that they could be caused by toxic exposures in your home. If you are taking any kind of over-the-counter or prescription drug, or any kind of natural remedy on a regular basis, or seeing any kind of healthcare practitioner for any health problem, you can improve your health by identifying and eliminating or reducing toxic exposures in your home.
The Most Toxic Items in Your Home
You probably know to look for warning labels on products to see if they are toxic. But not all toxic products have warning labels, and even the products that do have warning labels are not always complete or accurate.
There are two kinds of toxic exposures.
“Acute” exposures are those where you feel the symptoms immediately, such as if you were to drink one of those cleaning products under your sink with the warning label, “Keep out of reach of children.”
“Chronic” exposures act more slowly. These chemicals build up in your body over time, until one day they suddenly cause a serious illness. Cigarette smoke is an example of a chronic exposure. You can smoke for years and then one day get cancer. But that cancer is the result of years of cumulative exposure, not one cigarette. Many chemicals are just like cigarettes. You can breathe or eat them or put them on your skin day after day, and then one day your body will develop a serious illness.
Products that produce acute exposures are likely to have warning labels about symptoms that will likely occur immediately if you drink the product. But there are no warning labels for chronic exposures.
Here are a few of the most toxic items that are commonly found in homes.
Cleaning products. Most supermarket cleaning products have warning labels for immediate dangers, but they don’t warn about the long-term effects of breathing toxic chemicals in cleaning products.
Pesticides. Pesticides also have warning labels for immediate hazards and don’t warn about the long-term health effects. Many pesticides don’t break down and can build up to high concentrations in homes.
Tap water. The water coming out of your tap has no warning label but contains many pollutants, including chlorine, chloramine, and fluoride. It may also contain many other pollutants, such as solvents and pesticides which enter from the environment and are not removed at the water treatment plant.
Wall-to-wall carpets. Synthetic wall-to-wall carpets and carpet padding release many toxic chemicals into the air in your home. This is one of the major sources of indoor air pollution.
If someone smokes cigarettes or other tobacco products in your home, encourage them to quit, or ask them to smoke outside. Tobacco smoke contains some of the most toxic chemicals known—forty-three of which have been proven to cause cancer, and more that two hundred known poisons. Breathing their second-hand smoke is practically the same as smoking the cigarette yourself.
Toxic Homes Contribute to Every Illness
Toxic chemicals found in consumer products we use every day at home can contribute to illnesses and conditions that we don’t often think are related to toxic exposures.
While there are certainly many factors that contribute to ill health, toxic chemicals play a significant role. And until one makes the connection that toxic exposures are a cause and takes steps to remove those chemicals, conditions continue despite other treatments. It’s like water running into a bathtub. If you want to empty the bathtub, you can take buckets full of water out of the bathtub all you want, but you won’t empty the bathtub until you turn off the water at the tap.
Cancer is caused by being exposed to chemicals called “carcinogens”—so named because they are known to cause cancer.
Infertility, diabetes, and obesity are caused by toxic chemicals known as “endocrine disruptors” because they actually mimic the hormones in your body and give your body incorrect information. One endocrine disruptor, Bisphenol A (BPA), is in the lining of every can of food on your kitchen shelf and leaches into the food in that can. When you eat canned food, BPA goes into your body.
But toxic chemicals in your home can cause minor symptoms too, including headaches, insomnia, skin rashes, asthma and other breathing problems, and every other symptom. Flu-like symptoms often happen in the wintertime as a result of gas leaks when families turn on the heat.
Even if your health seems fine right now, that doesn’t mean that toxic chemicals are not affecting you.
We are exposed to such a huge volume of chemicals in the world today that our bodies can’t process all the toxic substances that come into our bodies. Those toxic substances that our bodies cannot process and eliminate are stored throughout your body, in fat, muscles, bones, the brain, the liver, and other organs. Pregnant women store toxics in breast milk.
This stockpile of toxic chemicals in your body has been named “body burden” by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Body burden is considered by the CDC to be such an important factor in the control of disease in the USA population that they continually monitor the blood of Americans for toxic chemicals. In their last report in 2009, some 212 different toxic chemicals were found in the bodies of about 2400 people tested.
But there are things you can do to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, which will, in turn, reduce your everyday symptoms and your risk of developing a serious illness.
What You Can Do To Remove Toxics From Your Home
There are a few things you can do right away get started eliminating toxic chemicals.
First, go online and find the many resources available to get information about toxins in your home and safe alternatives. Environmental Working Group (EWG) has many articles about the most toxic chemicals in consumer products. Debra Lynn Dadd offers a directory of more than 1000 websites that sell toxic free products. All you have to do is choose a website and purchase what you need.
A quick way to reduce many toxic chemicals in the air is to purchase an effective air filter. You’ll need one that removes both gasses and particles. Most air filters sold in stores remove only particles, to relieve allergies to pollens, dander, and dust. But toxic chemical air pollutants are misty vapors, so small you often can’t perceive them at all. The best choice is to get an air filter then removes both particles and gasses because toxic gasses can attach to particles. Removing the particles will also help to remove some of the gasses.
Something you can do that costs very little is to clean out all those toxic cleaning products under your kitchen sink. Then go down to your local natural food store and pick out some natural and nontoxic cleaners. Or go online and learn how to clean your house with baking soda, vinegar, and soap.
If nothing else, open all the windows in your house and let the toxic indoor air flow outside.
Removing toxic chemicals from your home can improve your health, productivity, and happiness. And you’ll save on health care costs too. It’s a good thing all around.
Reduce hazardous chemicals in your home
• Remove your shoes at the entrance to your home so you don’t track chemicals from outside throughout your house.
• Use pump spray products instead of aerosols as the aerosol mist is more easily inhaled.
• Avoid chemical air fresheners and candles.
• Avoid chemicals used in traditional dry cleaning.
• Buy fewer household hazardous products by avoiding specialty cleaners, using
multipurpose cleaners and using single-ingredient products like vinegar or baking soda for cleaning.
• Use a fabric shower curtain instead of a vinyl as vinyl releases chemical gasses.
• Use mercury-free thermometers such as alcohol or digital ones. Take mercury thermometers to a hazardous waste collection site.
• Dispose of hazardous products properly.
• Avoid chemical pesticides and herbicides