As Americans become increasingly health conscious, it is time to examine the place we spend most of our time. Health experts say our homes are filled with health hazards we probably don’t even notice. Here are some of them:
1. Artificial Sweeteners
With all the news about the devastating effects of sugar, many people have switched to artificial sweeteners. However, sweeteners like sucralose (the ingredient in Splenda) and aspartame can cause their own problems, including insulin sensitivity, glucose intolerance, disruption of gut flora, and promotion of obesity, heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of artificial chemicals, try the natural sweeteners stevia and zylitol.
2. Plastic Food Containers and Bottles
Plastic containers are convenient, but they contain bisphenol-A, bisphenol-S, and phthalates, which can leach out when the containers are heated or the surface scratched, causing disruption to the human endocrine system. This can cause reproductive health problems, hypertension, hyperactivity and learning disabilities, and cancer of the breast, prostate and thyroid. To avoid these, switch to glass.
3. Non-Stick Cookware
Non-stick cookware contains perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA), a chemical that has been labeled as a “likely” carcinogen, as well as fluoride. When the cookware is heated, fluoride is released into the air, causing potential harm to people who inhale it. Ceramic cookware has a naturally non-stick surface, and emits no toxic chemicals.
4. Air Fresheners
Deodorizers and air fresheners generally contain the chemicals 2, 5-dichlorophenol (2, 5-DCP) and 1, 4-dichlorobenzone (1, 4-DCB), which are implicated in precocious puberty as well as lung damage. Endocrine-disrupting phthalates are often present as well. Consider using essential oils, which offer other health benefits as well. And don’t forget to open your windows and let the fresh air inside.
7. Antibacterial Soaps and Detergents
Many of the antibacterial soaps and detergents we use actually promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. One ingredient commonly used in these products is triclosan, which is responsible for allergies, thyroid and endocrine disruption, weight gain, inflammation, and tumors of the liver and kidneys. Simply washing hands with soap and water is the best approach to germ control.
6. Commercial Cleaning Products
Many brands of cleaning products contain glycol ethers, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and formaldehyde, among others. Try making your own cleaning solutions using baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid castile soap. There are also completely natural products now available in grocery stores.
7. Personal Care Products
Many personal care products and cosmetics are full of toxic heavy metals and dangerous chemicals, such as lead, beryllium, thallium, cadmium, and arsenic. The Environmental Working Group maintains a database with a list of safe personal care products.
Turning your attention to health hazards at home requires some thought, but the payoff in your health may be significant.