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This post was originally published on My Health Maven. Elisha is deeply passionate about educating people and empowering them to lead healthier lives. I encourage you to check out her blog.

A healthy home is a home that is toxin free and provides a safe and healthy living environment for everyone. If you want to create a healthy, non toxic home, here’s a list of things you  should eliminate.

  1. Non Stick Cookware-It’s been 40 years since non stick pans were introduced. Although the concept is appealing to most cooks, the hazards just aren’t worth it. Non stick coating is made of polytetrafluoroethylene which release toxic gasses that are linked to cancer, organ failure, reproductive damage and other health risks.

Healthier Options: Consider using stainless steel pans, cast iron or anodized aluminum.

 

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  1. Conventional Cleaning Supplies-All purpose cleaners frequently contain toxic chemicals such as ammonia which is a very strong irritant that can cause liver and kidney damage, or bleach which can burn your skin and eyes, and irritate your lungs. Oven cleaners and drain cleaners can cause chemical burns and emit toxic fumes that harm your lungs.

Healthier Options: Consider non toxic cleaning products such as Seventh Generation, or make your own from ingredients around the house, such as baking soda and vinegar. Click here to read about homemade cleaners.

 

  1. Air Fresheners-As time passes more negative effects are associated with these incredibly toxic products. Whether they are solids, aerosols, automatic sprayers, diffusers, or plug ins, it doesn’t matter. Air fresheners aggravate and trigger respiratory problems, reproductive problems, birth defects, and are now being linked to breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Healthier Options: Consider open windows, air cleaners, search for the origin of the offending odor and remove it, or my favorite bake some cookies! Click hereto read more about air fresheners.

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  1. CFL Light Bulbs– People may appreciate the efficiency of these bulbs, as they use less electricity. But unless you plan on operating a hazardous waste dump in your home, avoid these as they contain mercury. If you do use these bulbs, they should be taken to a “special facility” or hazardous waste collection site.

Healthier Options: Consider sticking with the “old fashion” light bulb or LEDs till something better comes along.

  1. Chemical Insecticides and Herbicides-Pests and weeds may be problematic, but not nearly as much as the problems created by their use. Round Up is known to create a host of physical ills including kidney and reproductive damage in lab mice. Bug sprays commonly contain cypermethrin, a known eye, skin and respiratory irritant; it is also known to have negative effects on the central nervous system.

Healthier Options: Consider Diatomaceous Earth, or a peppermint castile soap for insects and straight vinegar as a weed killer.

 

  1. Chemical Fertilizers– When it rains or you water you lawn, chemical runoff enters the storm drains This chemical soup eventually ends up in streams, rivers and the ocean, killing wildlife and destroying water quality.

Healthier Options: Consider an organic fertilizer or using homemade compost, or even more eco friendly consider a xeriscape yard or replacing your grass with a vegetable garden.

 

  1. Flame Retardants-This is tough one, flame retardants are everywhere. They are used in cushions, mattresses, foam pillows, hair dryers, tvs, computers, carpets, appliances, fabrics, even your telephone. The flame retardant used in mattresses, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) accumulates in blood, breast milk, fatty tissue and is linked to liver, thyroid and neuro development issues. Since most people sleep on average 6-8 hours in their bed, if your mattress isn’t organic, this may be a good place to start.

Healthier Options: Consider replacing items when your finances allow. Click here to read more toxins in the home.

 

  1. Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets– According to the EPA and MSDS there are numerous chemicals in fabric softeners and dryer sheets, including benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, limonene, A-terpineol, ethyl acetate, camphor, chloroform, linalool and pentane. Many of these chemicals are linked to central nervous system disorders, upper respiratory tract infections, and various cancers and trigger asthmatic responses.

Healthier Options: Consider using wool dryer balls or spiked dryer balls which fluff your clothes. Another option is to add a ½ cup of vinegar to the fabric softener compartment in your washer. The acidity level of vinegar neutralizes the laundry soap, allowing more residue to wash out in the rinse cycle, clothes come out softer, and vinegar also removes any odor on clothes. Click here to read more about the ingredients in Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets.

 

  1. Antibacterial Products-Since their widespread use we are seeing new “super-bugs” that are resistant to antibiotics. The Center for Disease Control states concern that these anti bacterial products may be interfering with the immune systems of young children. There is also concern about the buildup ofTriclosan in the body, and in our water supplies.

Healthier Options: Consider washing your hands more often  in plain soap and water.

 

  1. Plastic Shopping Bags-Plastic is forever, in the U.S. only 2% of plastic bags are recycled, the other 98% end up in landfills or the ocean.

Healthier Options: Consider reusable cloth or fabric bags. Storage crates that are easily packed up in the store and carried to your car are a great option as they are more stable than bags while driving, and have multiple uses. To learn more about plastic bag pollution click here.

 

  1. Plastic Bottles- Most plastic bottles are made with BPA, a chemical that mimics hormones that are harmful to the endocrine system. When exposed to heat, bottles will leach these chemicals at a faster rate into your water. 

Healthier Options: Consider stainless steel or glass bottles.

 

  1. Scented Detergents-Almost all detergents contain fragrance, even those that are listed as unscented, usually have a masking ingredient to cover the scent. 95% of the chemicals used in fragrances are made from petroleum products. Many are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and damage to lungs, brain, and nerves. Fragrances are not regulated by any government or health agency. There is no law that requires fragrance ingredients to be put on product labels.

Healthier Options: Unscented laundry detergents such as Seventh Generation Free and Clear, Country Save Unscented or Planet Unscented.

 

  1. Perfumes and Scented Soaps– As with scented detergents, 95% of the chemicals used in fragrances are made from petroleum products. Many are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and damage to lungs, brain, and nerves. Some chemicals commonly used in fragrances, such as toluene, are listed as hazardous waste worldwide. Fragrances are not regulated by any government or health agency. There is no law that requires fragrance ingredients to be put on product labels. To read more about perfumes click here.

Healthier Options: There are much pure and natural soap to choose from. Companies such as Sappo Hills, Baltimore Soaps, Karen’s Naturals, and Rose of Sharon Acres make wonderful varieties of soaps.

 

References:
http://www.immuneweb.org/articles/perfume.html
http://www.ewg.org/research/pfcs-global-contaminants/teflon-and-other-non-stick-pans-kill-birds
http://www.ewg.org/news/videos/ewg-teflon-can-create-negative-side-effects
http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2009/06/recycling-cfls-maine-and-beyond
http://www.articlesbase.com/diy-articles/health-hazards-of-chemical-fertilizers-1891706.html
http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2011/09/your-best-air-freshener-isnt-air-freshener
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/27/flame-retardant-chemicals.aspx
http://www.world-wire.com/news/0205210001.html
http://www.rodale.com/dangers-antibacterial-soap
http://children.webmd.com/news/20080529/safety-debate-on-antibacterial-soap
http://flourishonline.org/2010/08/so-whats-the-big-deal-with-plastic-water-bottles/
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080506/MULTIMEDIA02/80505016
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2011/08/researchers-scented-laundry-detergent-could-be-hazardous.html
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/uow-slp082311.php
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824091537.htm
http://stason.org/articles/wellbeing/health/environment/Fragrance-A-Growing-Health-and-Environmental-Hazard-Part-1.html#.USOWAR1wd8E
Chemicals found in fabric softeners by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Reference: Lance Wallace, EPA

Identification of Polar Volatile Organic Compounds in consumer Products and Common Microenvironments, 1991, Compiled by Julia Kendall

Image Sources:

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Elisha McFarland
Health Expert
Elisha McFarland