Recognizing and Avoiding Common Household Toxins

Many people don’t realize the number of toxins they are surrounded by in their home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the air in homes and other buildings is usually more polluted than the air outdoors, even in major cities. With many new chemicals introduced to the world’s markets every year, household toxins are more prevalent now than ever before. These toxins are found in many household items, including mattresses, floors, furniture, and cosmetics. Ridding your house of these harmful substances can make your home healthier, happier, and safer.

Health Issues Caused by Toxic Household Products

Most household products, whether they’re cosmetics, hygiene products, or cleansers, contain chemicals that are linked to health issues, including:

  • Reduced sperm count
  • Hormone disruption
  • Thyroid and reproductive issues
  • Headaches
  • Liver and kidney issues
  • A weakened immune system
  • Respiratory complications

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Common Household Products With Harmful Chemicals

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When you clean your house, make it smell fresh, or discourage insects from entering it, you are more than likely using products that contain chemical toxins. Common products that contain harmful chemicals include:[1]

  • Air fresheners
  • Polishing agents
  • Scouring powders
  • Surface cleaners
  • Insecticides

Common Hygiene and Beauty Products With Harmful Chemicals

Staying clean and looking your best may not be as beneficial as you think if the products you use contain harmful chemicals. It’s important to know which products need to be replaced or avoided. The following are the hygiene and beauty products most likely to contain toxic chemicals:

  • Deodorant
  • Perfume and cologne
  • Soap (including antibacterial soap) and detergent
  • Makeup and cosmetics
  • Mouthwash and toothpaste
  • Moisturizer and sunscreen
  • Shampoo and other hair care products
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover

What Chemicals Are Found in These Products?

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Maintaining a healthy home is key to living a healthy life, and the only way to accomplish this is by thoroughly vetting the products you’re considering introducing to your home. To minimize your exposure to toxins and their effects, check the labels on hygiene and beauty products for these harmful chemicals:

  • Ammonia
  • Mica
  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride
  • Triclosan
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • DBP (Dibutyl phthalate)
  • DEA (Diethanolamine)
  • PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)
  • SLS/SLES (Sodium laureth sulphate)
  • Formaldehyde (DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea)
  • BHA/BHT (Butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • Coal tar dye (P-phenylenediamine)

Using natural alternatives to chemical-based products can significantly reduce your exposure to harmful toxins and minimize the damage they cause.

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Toxins in the Bedroom

Sleep is an important activity that helps re-energize the body. It plays a major role in supporting memory, immune function, metabolism, learning, and other critical functions. Unfortunately, toxins are concentrated in the bedroom and can affect your ability to get restful sleep.[2]

Mattresses

One of the most important items in your bedroom is the mattress on which you sleep. Foam mattresses—including baby and children’s mattresses—have become very popular over the last decade but may hold toxic flame retardants. When these chemicals are released, they can be inhaled and negatively impact your body’s ability to heal and detoxify. Look for a non-toxic mattress made with organic stuffing and without flame retardants.

Additionally, mattresses should never be placed on a pressed wood or plywood bed frame. These two types of wood are notorious for releasing formaldehyde and other chemicals.

We can’t talk about mattress toxins without mentioning dust mites. These microscopic creatures are potent allergens. A member of the spider family, mites feast on human skin flakes and leave their excrement in your mattresses, pillows, sheets, furniture, and drapes. Regularly cleaning these areas can reduce your exposure to these organisms and alleviate the respiratory issues they cause. For next-level protection, get a protective cover for your mattress and wash your sheets every three days with fragrance- and chemical-free laundry detergent.[34]

Electronics

When taking inventory of the sources of toxins in your bedroom, don’t forget about TVs, clocks, radios, and other electronic devices. Devices that have a screen emit blue light which slows the production of melatonin, the hormone necessary for healthy sleep cycles. This is one reason why using your cell phone before bed affects sleep quality.

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Electronic devices also emit a small amount of electromagnetic radiation. If they are cracked, or their insides are otherwise exposed, toxic metals such as beryllium, lead, mercury, arsenic, and barium can leak. The best strategy for a toxic-free sleep environment is to keep electronic devices out of your bedroom altogether.[56, 7]

Carpeting

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are a group of extremely toxic materials that don’t break down in the environment. The most toxic of these is a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is used to produce carpeting and upholstery. These chemicals make their way into household dust, which means you are inhaling them every day. If it’s in your budget, natural hardwood or stone flooring is easier to clean and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals or carry harmful bacteria. Hardwood and stone floors are an effective way to reduce exposure to PFCs and other contaminants that accumulate in carpet dust.

If carpeting is necessary, use a well-sealed vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This kind of filter reduces the amount of dust and bacteria that blows out into the air while cleaning. Steam cleaning can be an effective solution for killing bacteria but really should be handled by a qualified, experienced professional who can produce the benefits of steam cleaning without the common, unintended consequence of mold and mildew growth.

If you want carpet in your house, choose carpet made from natural fibers like sisal or hemp that has achieved Green Label Plus Certification. This type of carpet is resistant to mold and mildew, making it ideal for high-moisture areas.[89]

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