Ten Common Household Items that Could Be Damaging your Health
It’s very unlikely you worry about the every day items around your home causing you harm, but perhaps you should. Many common household items, accessories and even furnishings could pose a threat to you and your family’s health. In most instances there are alternatives on the market so to keep your health in check and protect your family’s too, consider avoiding the following eight household regulars.
No modern home really requires heavy duty disinfectant like bleach. Bleach can seriously irritate the throat and lungs. Research shows it may even cause asthma in people who had never experienced the condition previously. No regular household really needs anything stronger than soap and water. If you do still need to use bleach, experts recommend a 10 to 1 ratio, water to bleach. There are also many chemical-free cleaners on the market which mean there really is no place for aggressive chemicals in the modern home.
Candles and Cosmetics
These two household items have been grouped together because the “bad guy” in each case is the same. Phthalates, also known as plasticizers, are found in a wide range of items from standard wax candles to fragrances and cosmetics. Studies have linked phthalates to everything from asthma to autism spectrum disorders. The bottom line is they are best avoided, and companies have been informed to proceed with caution before using these chemicals in their products. Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable to the damaging effects of phthalates.
This may seem like madness but in homes where respiratory conditions such as asthma are a problem, the carpets really should go. Carpets trap a huge amount of dust compared to wooden or hard flooring. Dusty homes are much more likely to be a risk to people with lung conditions and even if you don’t live with anyone with asthma or similar, playing on rugs and carpets carrying dust can irritate children’s lungs and potentially lead to a condition developing.
We can’t live without them in hotter months but if they’re not regularly serviced, air conditioner units can become death traps. If your air conditioner develops a leak, then it could soon cause refrigerant poisoning. Refrigerant poisoning can cause heart palpitation and seizures and can be fatal. Air conditioning units are also breeding grounds for mold so it is completely essential to have them serviced if you don’t want to consider giving it up altogether.
The National Pesticides Telecommunications Network report that 90% of US households use some form of pesticides and this puts them all at risk. Pesticides can mean fly spray, rat poison and everything in between. Pesticides are regularly tested but they still pose a real threat to your family and should be kept far out of reach of children and away from pets. Ventilation is key if you have to use pesticides and it often makes more sense to utilize a professional service instead.
In Canada bottles made from polycarbonate plastics are on their way to being banned, but the same is not the case here. Polycarbonate plastic bottles are the most common on the market, but they can pose risk to young children and effect their development and growth. Polycarbonate bottles are made using a chemical compound called bisphenol-A or BPA and it has a similar structure to the natural hormone estrogen. BPA is therefore a hormone disruptor and can interfere with the body’s natural hormones, making it potentially dangerous for young children to be exposed to several times a day.
Non-Stick Pans and Cookware
Around since the 1960s, non-stick cookware used to be a must-have in the home. They cut down cleaning time and made it easier to prepare food. However, this comes at a price. The coating which creates the non-stick is polytetrafluorethylene, also known as PTFE, and it has many questionable features. PTFE becomes dangerous as it is heated. It releases toxic gases and these gases have been linked with many harmful health effects including cancer, reproductive damage and even organ failure. It is when PTFE coated pans are heated to particularly high temperatures that they become dangerous but nevertheless you may want to rethink using them in the home.
Electric blankets may seem like a good idea, but they have been known to cause fatal heat stroke. They have been linked to reproductive conditions and issues, although the scientific evidence to back this up has yet to be uncovered. Like with many of the household items on this list it’s about balance and whether you think that the risk of heat stroke and potential reproductive problems is worth the risk, whether the evidence is finite or not.
Anti-Bacterial Cleaners and Soaps
Any anti-bacterial cleaner or soap which contains triclosan should be treated with caution. Triclosan has aggressive and powerful anti-bacterial properties but once in our water supply it causes real damage. It is toxic to algae, may be a carcinogen and some research suggests it could be damaging to the human endocrine system.
Everyone wants their furniture to look its best at all times, but it is essential you are careful and if possible, avoid using furniture polish altogether. The composition of furniture polish is particularly toxic and while swallowing it is the most dangerous thing you can do, even inhalation can be extremely hazardous. It can irritate your throat and lungs severely and the same is possible if it comes into contact with your skin.
Many of these items may be used every day in your home but is it worth it? None of these items are necessary and you can find alternatives with less health-damaging properties. There are many chemicals and products which we thought were fine 20 years ago that we now know are not, so there is no excuse not to remove them from our homes. For a healthier and safer home, opting for less-chemical based agents and look more carefully at the labels when purchasing anything for the home.