Toxins Hidden in Our Everyday Lives

You may think that the biggest risk of pollution exposure is from your surroundings, but there is quite a lot of pollution at home. Chemicals and… Trista - July 28, 2019

You may think that the biggest risk of pollution exposure is from your surroundings, but there is quite a lot of pollution at home. Chemicals and various toxins in your house can cause a sizeable toxic build-up indoors, leading to illnesses that can affect your family. Diseases caused by indoor pollutants are known as “sick building syndrome.” Sick building syndrome can cause allergies, breathing problems, skin issues, and cancer. While being exposed to these chemicals a few times may not be too harmful, chronic exposure over your life can have unfortunate consequences.

Poor air quality, improper storage, and frequent exposure to toxins in your home can lead to serious conditions. Currently, there aren’t any federal regulations on chemicals contained in household products. Because these cleaners don’t need to be tested or held to a certain standard for safety, it’s risky to expose yourself to so many chemicals. On average, a household in America contains more than sixty toxic chemicals. Many products worry about having in your home, from oven cleaners to synthetic fragrances to dryer sheets. Keep reading to discover what types of toxic chemicals may be present in your home.

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Fabric Softeners

While you may not realize it, the detergents you use to soften your clothes are full of harmful chemicals. Long ago, consumers were convinced that in addition to washing and drying clothes, fabric softener was necessary for keeping clothes from getting crunchy. It would also help to prevent annoying static cleaning. Pretty much every household in America uses fabric softener. Whether you use capfuls of liquid softener or dryer sheets, it’s essential to know what this product can do to you and your family.

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Fabric softener is made from a chemical combination that applies a thin layer of lubrication to make clothes feel smoother. Originally, fabric softeners were made from soap and natural oils like olive oil. Noxious chemicals found in today’s fabric softeners include chloroform, ethanol, limonene, and benzyl alcohol. Additionally, every time you use liquid fabric softener, these toxins get poured into the ocean, harming the ecosystem. To keep your clothes soft, use dryer balls, a say-based softener, or include baking soda and vinegar in your wash cycle.

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Mold is dangerous and can spread fast. Especially in damp, humid climates, mold can germinate and grow between 24 and 48 hours. Spores start colonizing in 3 to 12 days, and you will begin to see the mold roughly three weeks after germination. Homes that are older or poorly ventilated have a higher chance of developing mold. Mold exposure can cause coughing, wheezing, throat irritation, nasal irritation, and even skin irritation. It can even cause long-lasting effects if not treated right away.

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The sooner you catch mold, the better. If you find it when it’s small, you can get rid of it yourself, but it is best to call professionals if it has spread over a large part of your home. Cleaning your bathroom frequently, keeping an eye out for leaks, and opening your windows at least once per day can help prevent the spread of mold. Using a dehumidifier is also a great way to get moisture out of the air so mold won’t grow.

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Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

Also known as quats, quaternary ammonium compounds are most commonly found in disinfectant chemicals. Sprays, wipes, and other cleaning products that are antibacterial and designed to kill germs contain quaternary ammonium compounds. Cleaning products that claim to be antibacterial are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as pesticides. For everyday household cleaning, quaternary ammonium compounds are completely unnecessary. Quats are strong enough to kill Staphylococcus bacteria and E. Coli. This much sterilization power is not needed in most homes. If you find that you must use such a chemical, you should wear gloves when doing so.

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Studies show that cleaners that include quaternary ammonium compounds do not eliminate germs any better than soap and water. These toxins irritate the lungs and cause asthma as well as skin problems. Quaternary ammonium compounds have also been known to affect fertility in both men and women. To avoid bringing quats into your home, do not buy cleaning products that are advertised as antibacterial. So be sure to read the back label before purchasing any cleaning products next time you’re at the store.

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Paints and Varnishes

The older the paint is, the more likely it is to be toxic. Paint used to be made with lead and many homes built before 1980 have lead paint on their walls. Luckily for everyone nowadays, lead paint has been banned for decades. If you believe your home may have lead paint inside, you can call a professional company to test toxins. If you find out that your home is, in fact, painted with paint that contains lead, it’s best to get rid of that paint as soon as possible.

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Paint now comes in two types: oil-based and water-based. Water-based paints pose less of a risk of exposure to toxins than oil-based paints. Natural paint is excellent because it doesn’t contain solvents and is odor-free. You won’t have to worry about toxic fumes when you paint with water-based lacquers. Your brushes only require water for cleaning, so you won’t have to be exposed to turpentine or another varnish. Be sure to paint with open windows so you won’t breathe in any fumes.

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Baby Products

You may be shocked to learn that many toxic products on the market are aimed at children. Confusing labels, limited regulation of chemicals, and the frequent pushing of environmentally friendly products have led to much confusion for parents shopping for their children. Babies are vulnerable to chemicals because their immune, endocrine, and neurological systems are still in development. Research shows that even minimal exposure to toxic chemicals when a child is developing can lead to cancer, learning disabilities, infertility, and other serious health issues later in life.

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Baby wipes contain an antimicrobial chemical compound called Bronopol. It is toxic to the lungs, immune system, and skin. You will find flame retardants in the filling of children’s bedding, high chairs, strollers, and pillows. Hard plastic toys and baby bottles contain BPA, which can interfere with a child’s hormones. To avoid toxic baby products, look for all-natural baby wipes, cotton-filled furniture, and toys made with wood or cotton. Be sure to read the back of the label when purchasing something for your child or children next time, too.

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Cheap Furniture

Inexpensive furniture may seem like a bargain, but it’s not worth it because of the exposure to chemicals. Furniture made with plywood and particle board contains isocyanate or formaldehyde glues. Each of these glues is toxic and bad for you if inhaled. Also, cheaply upholstered furniture contains stuffing made from chlorinated and brominated flame retardants. Made with cheap polyurethane foam, these items can not only expose you and your family to harmful chemicals, but they can quickly light on fire, which we all know is not something we would want to happen.

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Toxins found in furniture made with polyurethane foam can also lead to hormone disruption, cancer, and neurological impairment. To avoid cheaply made furniture, look for sustainable wood pieces at second-hand stores. Pine or bamboo are optimal choices, too! Be sure to limit upholstery made with anything other than cotton or feathers. Remember, just because it looks nice doesn’t always mean that it is safe for your home, so be careful when you are out buying furniture to put into your living room.

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Commonly known as perc, perchloroethylene is a neurotoxin found in carpet cleaners, dry cleaning solutions, and spot removers. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies perchloroethylene as a possible carcinogen. Many people who live near dry cleaners have experienced a loss of coordination, dizziness, and several other symptoms. The most common method of exposure to perchloroethylene is inhalation. Fumes that linger after a carpet cleaning or the specific smell of clothes fresh from the dry cleaner expose you to perc, and you aren’t even aware of it.

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Luckily, the EPA is working to phase out perchloroethylene machines in the next year. California has even taken steps to eliminate all perchloroethylene use by the year 2023. To avoid exposure to perchloroethylene, take dry clean-only clothing to a wet cleaner. Wet cleaners use water-based methods to clean clothes rather than chemicals. There are also several non-toxic spot removers to purchase, like Ecover and castile soap. If it’s affecting people like that who just live near dry cleaners, imagine how it’s affecting the people who are working inside of one.

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One of the most toxic substances you can find in your home is insulation. For decades, asbestos was used to insulate homes as well as make them fireproof. Now we know that asbestos is a major carcinogen and should never be handled or inhaled. Today newer flame retardants known as brominated flame retardants are being added to insulation to keep homes fire safe. Exposure to these BFRs has been known to lead to brain impairments and cancer. How scary is that?

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Even “green” forms of insulation can be toxic. Spray polyurethane foam is marketed as being eco-friendly, but it contains chemicals that are hazardous to humans. If you’re looking to replace the insulation in your home completely, you have options. Untreated, natural sheep’s wool is a smart choice. It can keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. Best of all, this natural fiber can filter toxins in the air around your home. How much better can it get?

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Sodium Hydroxide

Also known as lye, sodium hydroxide is incredibly corrosive. It’s most commonly found in drain opening solutions and oven cleaners. Lye is also used to manufacture soaps, paper, explosives, petroleum products, and dyes. Exposure to sodium hydroxide is hazardous. Coming in contact with sodium hydroxide can cause severe burns and irritation. You will know if you have come into contact with lye because it can cause titration to your nose, respiratory airways, and throat when inhaling small amounts of it.

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Within three minutes of sodium hydroxide getting on your skin, you can experience severe, painful burns and deep sores. If your eyes come in contact with lye, it can cause blindness. Instead of using this harmful chemical, use baking soda to clean a greasy oven. You will need to work a bit harder, but it is worth it! And to think, years ago people used to put themselves in danger every day just to do a simple household chore because they didn’t know any other way to clean out their oven.

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Toxic Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

You may not realize it, but there are many makeup products on the market that are full of unwanted chemicals. Many products found in your favorite store’s cosmetics aisle can contain reproductive toxins, carcinogens, and mutagens. A study by the Environmental Working Group found that over one-third of the products they tested had suspected carcinogens, and 60 percent contained endocrine disruptors. It’s probably a good idea to read the label before buying your next makeup palette or lipstick.

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Nail polish, sunscreen, shampoos, and conditioners are the most concerning personal care products. Sunscreen is made with oxybenzone, a toxic chemical. Many nail polishes contain DPB, a toxic chemical linked to cancer. A lot of shampoos and soaps have traces of ethylene oxide, which produces toxic contaminants. Do plenty of research before buying makeup. Look for do-it-yourself recipes to create your own all-natural personal care products! Some companies make all-natural personal care products as well. Just be sure to do your research before purchasing your next product.

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Dust Mites

Dust mites are small living creatures that are invisible to the human eye. They live on pet dander, dust, and dead skin cells. Scientists say that one mattress can hold between 100,000 and one million dust mites. Dust mites thrive in humid environments as well as carpets and fabric. To help keep them from spewing all over from your vents, you can put cheesecloth over them to help filter dust that may come through them. Also, putting a pillow protector over your pillow will help alleviate some of the mites that may try and crawl into your pillow.

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Fecal matter disposed of by dust mites gathers in fabrics around your home. Movements such as dusting and vacuuming can introduce toxins into the air around your home. Inhaling dust mites can cause lung inflammation, wheezing and asthma. To keep dust mites out of your home, wash your pillows and bedding frequently with hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. For damp homes, use a dehumidifier to get rid of moisture in the air. Clean surfaces with all-natural white vinegar or eucalyptus oils to avoid more toxic chemicals in your home.

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Carpets are at the top of the list in terms of harmful polluters in your home. They contain a wide variety of toxins, including cleaners, anti-stain products, and flame retardants. New carpet contains a chemical known as volatile organic compounds. That gives the carpet its fresh smell. However, it also introduces toxins like formaldehyde, toluene, and arsenic into your home. So your new carpet may look and feel nice under your feet, but it’s not nice for your lungs. Research before deciding on getting a new carpet installed in your home.

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It can be hard to find non-toxic carpeting, but it’s possible. If you can live with a material other than carpet, go for tile or wood, which are installed with low levels of volatile organic compounds. For homeowners who absolutely must have carpet, wool is your best choice! Not only is it sustainable, but it can help improve the air quality in your home. Seagrass, sisal, and jute are other great eco-friendly carpet options. To clean your carpet, look for non-toxic cleaners that are fragrance-free and don’t contain ammonium hydroxide.

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Air Fresheners and Perfumes

Most of us use perfumes and air fresheners every day without even considering what they are spreading into the air. There is a wide range of chemicals found in these sprays, but the most common are phthalates. The law states that companies do not need to share what is in their scents on their labels, so they are not required to include phthalates on labels. Tags that have the word fragrance on them, however, more than likely contain phthalates.

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Hundreds of chemicals are present in fragrance products that form indoor air pollution chemicals when they reach the ozone layer. Coming in contact with these toxins can cause nausea, dizziness, digestive problems, and headaches. Allergic reactions are also common. If you need a refreshing scent without toxic chemicals, try essential oils. Just be sure that if you have any pets in your home, the essential oil you are using is safe for them to be around as well. They are just as important.

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Hand soaps that are labeled as antibacterial, and most dishwashing detergents, contain triclosan. It can also be found in some furniture, clothes, toys, and cookware. You can even find it in toothpaste and hand sanitizers. Those that use products with triclosan absorb small amounts of the toxin via their mouth and skin. Be sure to read the label before using certain products, and try to switch out items that contain triclosan when you can. It won’t be missed in any product you buy that doesn’t contain it.

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Studies have shown that triclosan is not a vital ingredient in any product it’s in. Using toothpaste with triclosan doesn’t have more power for fighting gingivitis. Plain soap and water are just as effective at preventing illness and killing germs as antibacterial body washes and soaps. Triclosan can contribute to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, which is resistant to all antibiotics. Many companies are required to stop selling personal care products with triclosan, but there are still some out there. Read labels carefully to avoid this harmful toxin.

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Household Cleaners

Harsh chemicals like ammonia and petroleum byproducts were first marketed as cleaning agents after World War II. It was at this time that toxic household products were introduced into homes. Each year in the United States, over 150,000 children under the age of five had incidents involving household cleaners. That is why it is imperative to put locks on your cabinets where you store your household cleaners or put them up on a high enough shelf so that children can’t get a hold of them and harm themselves.

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Household cleaners contain bleach and other harmful chemicals. These substances can cause respiratory issues and chemical burns. They contain dry, highly concentrated chlorine that is dangerous for your eyes, skin, and lungs. Before these toxic cleaning products became a household staple, people routinely used vinegar, soap, baking soda, and lemon to clean. Aim to use homemade cleaners or all-natural products that contain no toxins. You can still use good old fashion soap, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon to clean successfully without worrying about any chemicals harming you or your family.

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Commonly found in window cleaning solutions, 2-Butoxyethanol is what gives them a characteristic sweet fragrance. This chemical falls under the category of glycol ether, a potent substance. The Environmental Protection Agency has a standard for 2-Butoxyethanol in the workplace but not for the household. Cleaning with products using 2-Butoxyethanol at home in a confined area can expose you to higher toxin levels than you would find at a workplace. Inhaling this chemical leads to sore throats, kidney and liver damage, as well as narcosis.

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There are many ways to clean windows and mirrors without breathing in 2-Butoxyethanol, using newspaper and diluted vinegar. For the rest of your home, combine baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils to create a powerful, all-natural cleaning agent. If you find yourself in a bunch, you can always spray or flick some plain water onto your window or mirror and wipe it away with a paper towel. It may not be the best solution, but it’s healthier for you than inhaling in 2-Butoxyethanol.

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Teflon and Nonstick Pans

Most of us may have a few nonstick pans in our kitchen cabinets. These Teflon-coated pans are everywhere today but have only been around for about twenty years or so. Although they are convenient to use and easy to clean, there is a chance that you are being exposed to toxins through your food, and you don’t even know it. Now that is scary to even think about, especially when almost everyone has at least one or most nonstick pans in their kitchen that they like to cook with.

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Teflon is made with perfluorinated chemicals (PFAs). People use them to make stain-resistant coatings found in clothing, carpets, and furniture. You can also find these chemicals in fast food packaging. PFAs will not break down in the environment and stay in the body for at least four years. Nonstick pans that are flaked, cut or scratched, or become hot enough to smoke will emit PFAs. These toxins can cause flu-like symptoms and even cancer. Stick to steel, iron, or copper pans instead of Teflon pans.

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Tea Tree Oil

Just because something is all-natural doesn’t mean it’s non-toxic. For centuries, tea tree oil has been used as a natural remedy. It has been known to treat skin conditions, flaky scalps, and fungal infections. This essential oil is made from the leaves of an Australian tree known as Melaleuca alternifolia. However, if misused, tea tree oil can be poisonous. Over 10 percent of those exposed to tea tree oil end up in a doctor’s office or emergency room.

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Tea tree oil comes in the form of pure essential oil, household cleaning products, and over-the-counter treatments for skin irritation. Even though some have used tea tree oil as mouthwash or treatment for toothaches, it should never be swallowed. Pet owners should know that applying large quantities of tea tree oil to your dog or cat’s skin can cause poisoning as well. Tea tree oil can be used in small doses, but avoid ingesting it at all costs.

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Vinyl Flooring

As we’ve seen with carpeting, it can be hard to find flooring material that isn’t toxic. Vinyl flooring may be convenient, but it’s filled with unwanted chemicals and toxins. It contains PVC, which is loaded with various phthalates. The same phthalates found in vinyl flooring can also be found in shower curtains. The most common phthalate in vinyl flooring is diethyl hexyl phthalate or DEHP. Because children are low to the ground and play on the floor a lot, they are ten times more likely to be exposed to DEHP.

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These harmful chemicals can lead to lower brain functions like memory, learning, and behavior. A child’s development and growth can also be negatively affected. Research has also found formaldehyde in vinyl flooring. It’s been determined that this material is a breeding ground for mold and other bacteria. To get rid of vinyl flooring in your home, choose ceramic tile or wood instead. Switch out your shower curtain with a waxed cotton one to limit the PVC amount in your home.

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We mentioned them earlier, but phthalates are found in many household products. You’ll see them in dish soap, air fresheners, and even toilet paper. Most scented sprays aren’t required to disclose the addition of phthalates in their products, so you can rarely tell which products include these harmful chemicals. Phthalates are also put into plastic products to make them softer and more comfortable to shape. You’ll find them in toys, raincoats, shower curtains, and flooring. The toxins are most known for being endocrine disruptors. Studies show that they can drastically reduce male infertility and lead to congenital disabilities.

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Children’s hormonal development can be damaged as well as the lungs, kidneys, and liver. Children are most vulnerable to phthalates because of the high levels of them in toys. To avoid phthalates, choose fragrance-free and all-natural products. Abandon aerosol air fresheners in favor of essential oils. Think about adding a few plants to your home because they naturally detoxify the air around them. It also freshens up the room and helps to make it feel cleaner as well, and a plant is all-around natural compared to any sort of cleaning product.

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Ammonia is a strong chemical found in glass cleaners and metal polishing products. It is also commonly added to cleaning products because it evaporates quickly without leaving streaks. This chemical is a compound of hydrogen and nitrogen. Although it is considered a natural product, it’s not free of toxicity. Ammonia can clean windows and surfaces effectively, but you will suffer in the process. The smell hits immediately, irritating your eyes and nasal passages. You may even tear up at the strong odor.

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Older adults with breathing problems and others with asthma are most affected by the overpowering scent of ammonia. Those who are frequently exposed to ammonia will develop asthma and bronchitis. Additionally, mixing ammonia and bleach creates a dangerous poisonous gas. To get sparkling windows that are free of streaks without using this noxious substance, use vodka! It creates a reflective shine on mirrored or glass surfaces. You can also try polishing silver with toothpaste. Who knew? Furthermore, you may have one or both things around your house already that you could use in place of ammonia, too!

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When most of us think of chlorine, we think of swimming pools and hot tubs. However, this chemical is used in a wide variety of household products as well, including mildew removers, scouring powders, and laundry whiteners. Chlorine is a featured ingredient in these products because it is designed to prevent bacteria growth, making sense. It’s why it’s used in hot tubs and pools, to begin with. There are so many ways to be exposed to chlorine. You can inhale it from fumes left by cleaning products.

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Sadly, in many cities, it is put in the water to stop bacteria so you can come in contact with chlorine in the bath or shower. It mainly affects your respiratory system, but chlorine can also negatively impact your thyroid. To avoid products with chlorine, scrub dirty surfaces with baking soda or Bon Ami. Vinegar works well to clean toilets and freshen up laundry. A good idea to reduce the amount of chlorine in your tap water would be to install filters in the sink and shower.

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Volatile Organic Compounds

You can find volatile organic compounds in paint, new wood flooring, new carpeting, and even new cars. When you smell that signature “new car smell,” you are inhaling volatile organic compounds or VOCs. There is a wide range of VOCs, including formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, xylene, and arsenic. All of these can vaporize into the air. Nevertheless, just because these chemicals vaporize into the air does not mean that it is gone for good.

There are still some on the objects it was originally sitting on, to begin with.

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Volatile organic compounds can cause dizziness, headaches, sore throat, and scratchy eyes. They have also been linked to depression. VOCs are more than ten times more toxic indoors and can especially affect children. To stay safe from VOCs, store products containing them outside. You can also find a lot of all-natural products that are free of VOCs. Buying a used car is another way to avoid them because it has already had the chance to air out and get rid of that new car smell.

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Let’s be real. No one wants their home to be infested with bugs, which is why many people choose to use pesticides to rid their homes of creepy crawlers. However, most store-bought bug sprays contain many toxic chemicals, leading to them being one of the top causes of poisoning, which is no surprise, according to the CDC. Any product that can kill bugs can also harm humans. If you must use a bug spray, be sure to wear a mask and gloves when handling such harmful products and ventilate any area you are in.

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You can be exposed to pesticides by inhaling them, ingesting them, or getting them on your skin. Limiting your risk of exposure is the best way to stay safe. Using a low-in toxicity pesticide for a short period should be fine, but using a powerful pesticide for an extended period can lead to many health problems. You can get skin lesions, breathing issues, headaches, and cancer. Look into natural bug killers like cinnamon, essential oils, peppermint, and diatomaceous earth, which are also safe for pets.

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Brominated Flame Retardants

Regularly included in consumer products to reduce property damage and fire-related injury, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have been shown to cause a wide variety of physical ailments. Studies have shown that BFRS can remain in the bodies of animals and humans for over twenty years after initial exposure. BFRs are found in nearly twenty percent of chemical flame retardants. You’ll find these chemicals most often in textiles, plastics, and electronics to make them less flammable. However, do they make them safer?

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Some adverse effects caused by BFRs include hormone disruption, behavioral changes, permanent memory loss, learning impairments, and delayed puberty. These chemicals have also been shown to cause cancer as well. One of the areas most affected by BFR exposure is the San Francisco Bay Area. Before purchasing new things, be sure to check toys and furniture labels carefully to avoid bringing BFRs into your home. Frequently dusting your home and washing your hands will prevent exposure to these harmful chemicals, which will help, too.

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Dry Cleaning Chemicals

While dry cleaning is convenient and results in clean and pressed clothes, it also exposes you and your family to toxic chemicals. Who would have guessed? As we have mentioned before, dry cleaning solutions mainly include the chemical perchloroethylene or perc. Classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a likely human carcinogen, perc is used in roughly 85 percent of dry cleaners in the United States. Perc and other dry cleaning chemicals are in the air, soil, and drinking water. That’s some pretty crazy stuff to think about.

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You can also find them in blood and breast milk. Dry cleaning chemicals are strong enough to cut through grease, making them tough on the human body. Perc damages the nervous system and brain and can also contribute to cancer. Exposure to dry cleaning chemicals will result in mild memory loss, drowsiness, dizziness, and skin irritation. Wearing dry, cleaned clothes not only exposes you to toxins through your skin. However, just having them in your home puts pollutants in the air. Look for wet cleaners or cleaners that use liquid carbon dioxide to avoid exposure to perc.

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Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is typically found in plastic water bottles. BPA is also in plastic toys, medical devices, compact disks, and the linings of canned food and drinks, just to name a few things. For over 40 years, BPA has been used to harden plastics. Over 90% of people have BPA in their system from eating foods in BPA-made plastic containers, and they don’t even know it. You can also ingest BPA through water, air, and dust.

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While the Food and Drug Administration states that low levels of human exposure to BPA are entirely safe, the chemical has been shown to affect people’s health. It can act like a hormone in the body and disrupt hormonal development in babies and children. BPA has been linked to cancer, heart conditions, brain problems, and behavioral issues. To avoid BPA, you should trade-in plastic water bottles for metal or reusable glass containers. There are plenty of food storage options out there free of BPA.

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Many households use bleach for a wide variety of things. It is in household cleaners, laundry detergents, and more around the house. While it is not corrosive, exposure to bleach can cause a myriad of health issues. Poison Control Centers report that the most received call they get that involves children under the age of six is related to the accidental ingestion of bleach. If you have any in your home with children around, be sure to keep it stored in a safe place so that they don’t have access to it.

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Bleach irritates the mouth, skin, lungs, and eyes. For those with breathing problems, bleach is especially harmful. It gets into your lungs, exacerbating asthma and COPD. This substance works to burn human tissue from the inside and outside. Another reason why bleach is harmful is that it’s incredibly reactive. When mixed with ammonia, bleach creates a dangerous gas that’s extremely toxic and, with high exposure, can lead to death. Use bleach in well-ventilated areas and always wear gloves. For alternatives to bleach, try lemon juice, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide.

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Poisonous House Plants

Houseplants provide air purification, visual interest, and occasional medicinal purposes. While plants make a great addition to any home, beware of toxic house plants. There are many species of plants that can affect people and pets, so it’s good to be aware of what can harm your family. Children, pets, and older adults with dementia are most in danger of poisoning by plants. Eating leaves, touching sap, ingesting berries, or drinking water from several plant species’ trays can damage.

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Most garden centers do not advertise the toxicity of the plants that they sell, so research the plants you’d like to have in your home before purchasing. Avoid philodendrons, arrowheads, peace lily, ivy, caladium, and pothos. The type of plant that is the most toxic is oleander. Just eating one small leaf of this plant can lead to death. Also, be sure not to accidentally purchase a plant that you or someone else in your home may be allergic to. Just because a plant isn’t poisonous does not mean it can’t cause you any harm.

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It’s nice to relax in your home and light a few fragrant candles from time to time. You would not think that lovely-smelling candles would be toxic, but they can be. Ingredients in candles like fragrance, wax, and wicks permeate poisonous materials through the air. Candles made with paraffin are hazardous. Paraffin is made with petroleum, and when it’s burned, it releases soot-filled with carcinogens. Not only is it bad to inhale, but it can also cause damage to the interior of your home.

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If your candles include synthetic fragrance oils, particles released when the candles are burned can lead to cancer and other illnesses. Older candles could have dangerous wicks. In the past, candles were made with lead wicks. The lead was included to help the wicks stand firm when the candle wax melted. When shopping for candles, choose ones labeled “lead-free.” Purchase candles made from 100 percent beeswax and have cotton wicks to avoid paraffin chemicals. There are also vegetable-based waxes on the market. Avoid soot by keeping candle wicks trimmed to one-eighth of an inch and never light the candle in an area with a draft.

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Hair Dye and Bleach

It’s hard to believe that something that seems so harmless, like coloring your hair, can cause a lot of damage to your lungs, eyes, and skin if you’re not careful. On top of that, it can also easily stain things if you’re not careful when applying it as well. Be sure that you are wearing gloves to protect your hands from staining and irritating chemicals when you are dying or bleaching your hair. Make sure to keep the dye away from your eyes and mouth as well.

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When messing with hair dye, you will want to do so in a well-ventilated room, with either a fan or an open window. If you notice your nose or eyes start to water or run, it means that the room probably isn’t that well-ventilated, and the chemicals are becoming too strong. Step out and take a breath of fresh air before continuing. Not everyone can use hair dye or bleach either. Some people have allergic reactions to the chemicals. Be sure to do a strand test ahead of time to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

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Artificial Sweeteners

Consuming anything that contains artificial sweeteners over some time has been linked with adverse effects such as weight gain, metabolic disorders, alteration of gut microbiota activity, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Now, we’re not saying you need to cut out anything that contains artificial sweeteners. However, it is probably a good idea to cut out a portion of it from your daily diet if you consume a lot of sugary drinks and sweet snacks regularly. Your body will be thanking you when you do, as well.

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Are you looking for an alternative to a sugary beverage? Reach for a more natural juice, you’ll get the sweetness you are looking for and some of the nutrients you may need, without the harshness of artificial sweeteners. Have a sweet tooth and crave a candy bay? Why not go for a healthier alternative and have some fruit, such as a banana or some strawberries? There’s nothing that says to cut artificial sweeteners out completely from your life, but it’s better to cut them down and replace them with healthier things instead.

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Rinse Off Produce

Nothing says fresh like fresh produce just bought from the produce department at your local grocery store. However, many people tend to touch the produce as they pick through to choose which ones to buy, covering the produce in germs they leave behind by their hands. Some produce is sprayed with chemicals when out in the farmers’ fields. The spray is supposed to help keep insects away from their crops. Some of the sprays also help to keep the produce looking fresher for longer.

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It is best to rinse off any produce that you may have bought from any grocery store. Even if you have just bought your fresh veggies or fruit from your local farmer with a stand down the road, you should probably still rinse your produce off before cutting it up, cooking it, or eating it. You never know what may be on your food, so it’s best to be on the safe side, and it only takes a few seconds of running your food under the water in the sink before preparing it.

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Wipe Down Counters

You may have just washed your counters with a sponge and a new cleaner you just bought, or even some Clorox wipes that say disinfectant right on the front label in big, bold letters. Even if you just cleaned your counters, you still might want to rethink putting food directly on top of them before you give them a good rinse. Not all cleaners may need to be followed up by a wipe with a damp cloth, so it’s best to check the label before assuming one way or another.

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If you bring anything home from the store or anywhere else and set it down on your counters, you may want to wipe them down after you move the items somewhere else. You never know what is on the packaging, and if you set food on your counter, you want to be sure that your counters are clean and not going to contaminate your food, which could make you and your family sick. Even if you just wipe off your counters with simple soap and water, it’s much better than not using anything at all.

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Essential Oils

Essential oils play a role in a lot of our lives these days. They help freshen up a room by making them smell nice. They help relax us and even help put calming pheromones into the air. You can use them in diffusers, creams, sprays, and even roll-on sticks as you do for some perfumes. Essential oils can have many health benefits for humans. However, they can be harmful to animals. Be sure to do your research if you have pets in your home before bringing in essential oils.

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Some of the highly toxic essential oils include lavender, clove, tea tree, thyme, camphor, eucalyptus, and wintergreen oils. Not only are they toxic to your furry friends, such as cats and dogs, but also feathery friends too. Inhaling essential oils can cause severe reactions such as agitation, hallucinations, and seizures. It can also cause respiratory distress, which can lead to death. Ensure that if you have pets and want to use essential oils, you do your research first before buying any. Keep you and your pets safe because essential oils are not worth the risk!

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Humidifiers are such a great idea when it comes to the humidity is low in your home. We all know that low humidity can cause everyday irritations, such as dry skin, dry throats, and noses. In turn, this leads to bloody noses and causes sinus headaches, and no one wants that. If you decide to hook up a humidifier somewhere in your home, make sure to read the instructions first, and be sure that the room it is in is not a small enclosed room, either.

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Make sure that whatever room you decide to put the humidifier in is a well-ventilated room. You also want to make sure that you check the vents regularly on the humidifier. If you notice any sort of mildew or moisture build-up on or around it or on your walls, windows, or ceilings, you need to remove it from your home. Inhaling mildew can cause respiratory distress and other issues in people such as asthma patients. Make sure to change the water out on your humidifier weekly, or as often as the instructions say to do so, and follow all cleaning instructions as well.

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The Coffee Maker

Whether you make your coffee with an old-fashioned coffee maker or have a Keurig coffee maker, you should know that it is best to clean it often, and not just the part that holds the water either. When running coffee through the tiny spout, it can start to cause build-up that you can’t see, making it the perfect spot for bacteria to start growing where it’s dark, warm, and moist. How gross is that? That’s not something you want to be thinking about while sipping on your hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

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If you have a Keurig, you can simply buy the cleaning pod made for it in the same aisle that you buy your k-cups in. If you don’t feel like spending the money on those, or if you have a regular coffee maker, fill up the back of your coffee maker with a mixer of both water and vinegar and run it as if you would be making coffee without putting coffee into it. The vinegar mixture will help clean out the coffee pot, getting rid of the build-up you can’t see or reach.

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Your Floors

So many things can be hiding in your carpets, and you don’t even know it, from tiny little crumbs to bugs and mildew. If you knock over a bag of chips and pick them all up, there will still be crumbs that fell into tiny crevices that you may not see—attracting ants and other bugs. Spilled a little juice on the carpet but ran and got a rag to soak it up right away. Are you sure you got it all?

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Vacuuming not only helps to freshen up your home, but it also helps to benefit your and your family’s health as well. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, vacuuming daily is a good idea. Even if you don’t, you should vacuum at least every other day, especially in highly trafficked areas, and if anything is spilled or knocked over. Dust mites, mold, and mildew can live underneath and in the carpet that you can’t see, which will affect your and your family’s health.

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Litter Boxes

If you have a beloved kitty living in your home, you probably know all too well the joys of taking care of the litter box. Whether it’s stuck away in the corner of the basement or somewhere in the guest bathroom, if it’s not cleaned regularly, you can smell it, and not just the feces, but the smell from their urine. It’s not a pleasant smell to anyone, and if you’re the one who cleans the litter box, then you know the smell gets worse the closer you are to it.

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The reason for such strong unpleasant odors is that litter boxes that aren’t cleaned out regularly enough contain a build-up of the feces and urine from your feline friend, resulting in dangerous ammonia fumes that you are inhaling. Inhaling ammonia can cause serious breathing issues and other problems because it is a toxic gas. Be sure that you are handling it with care when you are cleaning a litter box. Scrub your hands throughout with soap and water afterward. Keeping up on the litter box by scooping it daily will help, and you and your kitty will be thankful that you did.

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Keep Cleaning Supplies Locked Away

You may be cautious about how you use your cleaning supplies and where you set them down but are they safe where they are at? If you have any children or pets in your home, it’s essential to think about them and how easy it could be to get into your cleaners, and be exposed to all those chemicals if they’re not locked up or put away correctly. Not every bottle has a child safety lock on it to keep them out of it.

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If you keep your cleaning sprays and scrubs in a cabinet, be sure that they are not low enough to the ground that a young child or pet could get into. Make sure that if you have no other choice but to keep them under your kitchen sink, you have a lock of some sort on the cabinet doors so that only you have access to them. If you have shelves in your laundry room above the washer or dryer or high shelves in a closet under the stairs, those would also be good places to keep your cleaning supplies stored, as well.