How Toxic Is Your Home?
We like to think of our homes as being a safe place to be--a refuge from
a dangerous world. Yet some of the exposures that you have
day-to-day that are most hazardous to your health and the health of
your family happen right at home.
The good news is that for every toxic product you'll find in your home,
there is a safer alternative. You just need to know where to look for
those toxic exposures and what safe solutions are available.
Here are ten common toxic exposures most Americans have in their
homes, and some simple, inexpensive things everyone can do to reduce
1. Save yourself from exposure to toxic ammonia by washing your
windows with vinegar and water. Ammonia can cause irritation of the
eyes and respiratory tract, and burn your skin. Instead, mix distilled
white or apple cider vinegar half-and-half with water in a spray bottle.
Squirt on windows and wipe with recycled newspapers for a streak-free
2. Free yourself from toxic formaldehyde exposure by sleeping on
untreated cotton sheets. Formaldehyde exposure can cause
insomnia-yes, insomnia-and respiratory problems, among other
symptoms. Bypass formaldehyde-coated polyester/cotton sheets and
no-iron cotton sheets and choose cozy cotton flannel sheets or
untreated cotton percale sheets, both available at major department
stores and online.
3. Put up a detector to protect your family from carbon monoxide
exposure. Carbon monoxide starves the body and brain of oxygen and
can be fatal. First symptoms include sleepiness, headache, dizziness,
flushed skin, and disorientation. All homes with gas appliances or
heaters should install carbon monoxide detectors, available in most
hardware and home improvement stores or on-line.
4. Replace toxic mothballs with sweet sachets. Mothballs are made from
100 percent paradichlorobenzene, a volatile toxic chemical that can
cause headaches and severe irritation to nose, throat and lungs. Over
time it can cause liver and kidney damage. Because the balls look like
candy, they are a very attractive poison to children. Protect your
woolens from moths by making sachets from dried lavender, equal parts
dried rosemary and mint, or whole peppercorns. Cedar products are
also effective moth repellants.
5. Use soap-based cleaning products instead of poisonous detergent.
While detergents seem safe, they are a petrochemical-based product
that is responsible for more household poisonings than any other
substance. Soap, on the other hand, is made from natural oils and
minerals and has been safely used for centuries. Natural and organic
soap-based products can be found in natural food stores and online.
6. Refill your own non-plastic water bottle instead of using toxic plastic
water bottles. While it's good for your health to carry your own water
and drink it throughout the day, if it's in a clear polycarbonate plastic
bottle, it is leaching a toxic substance into your water--even if the bottle
is sitting on table at room temperature. Bisphenol-A. BPA is a potent
hormone disruptor that can impair the reproductive organs and have
adverse effects on breast tissue and prostate development. Drink from
a glass bottle or carry an aluminum or steel bottle, available online.
7. Avoid toxic pesticides by making dinner using fresh, organically-grown
produce. Most food sold in supermarkets are sprayed heavily with
pesticides, many of which cause cancer. Find out where to buy
pesticide-free organically grown food in your community, go there and
purchase what looks good and is in season. One taste and you'll go
back for more. A great variety of organically-grown food can also be
8. Wash away petrochemical perfumes and take a botanical bath. Many
commercial bath products contain detergents and artificial fragrances
that can be irritating to sensitive areas. You can have a luxurious
relaxing bath by adding natural substances to warm bathwater, such as
fragrant dried or fresh herbs (try lavender, rosemary, or peppermint), a
quart of buttermilk, or 1 cup Epsom salts. For bubbles, use a natural or
organic soap, available in natural food stores and online.
9. Get some color in your life without toxic solvents by choosing colorful
water-based pens and markers. Check through your pens and markers
and throw away any with "permanent" ink. They contain very toxic
volatile solvents such as toluene and xylene. Every office discount
warehouse and art supply store I have been to carries water-based
pens and markers in every size and color.
10. Clear the air with a couple of houseplants. In addition to being
beautiful to look at, houseplants also freshen the air by absorbing the
carbon dioxide we exhale and releasing the oxygen that is vital for us to
breathe. Some plants, such as the popular spider plant, also remove
some air pollutants.
To learn more about toxic products hidden in your home and safer
alternatives, buy and read Home Safe Home: Creating a Healthy Home
Environment by Reducing Exposure to Toxic Household Products
(http://www.dld123.com/homesafehome.html). To find nontoxic
products online, visit Debra's List at www.debraslist.com">http://www.debraslist.com.
Hailed as "The Queen of Green" by the New York Times, Debra
Lynn Dadd has been a leading consumer advocate for products
and lifestyle choices that are better for health and the
environment since 1982. Visit her website to learn more about her new
Safe Home, to sign up for her free email newsletters, and to
browse 100s of links to 1000s of nontoxic, natural and
earthwise products. www.dld123.com">http://www.dld123.com