Keeping your home safe and clean is essential to protecting your health. However, some everyday household products could put you and your loved ones at risk. Even the alternative options labeled “green” or “natural” may still contain harmful ingredients. So how can you distinguish these toxic household products?
It may be difficult to distinguish all of the health hazards in your home. Still, you can limit your exposure to dangerous threats by reading the labels and using products as directed. To help you determine which ones you may want to stop buying, get rid of, or replace, here is a list of the most toxic household products:
10 Most Toxic Household Products You Must Know About
1. All-Purpose Cleaners.
Most cleaning solutions tend to be the biggest toxic offenders in your home. The cleaners labeled “all-purpose” usually comprise ammonia, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate, sodium hypochlorite, and/or trisodium phosphate. These chemicals contribute to skin, eye, nose, as well as throat irritation and can be highly poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. Since it’s not a requirement to list the unsafe ingredients, many consumers unknowingly purchase and use these toxic household products.
The safest alternative for all-purpose cleaning is a solution of baking soda, Borax, Castile soap, vinegar, lemon, and hot water. But if you choose to work with an all-purpose cleaner:
- Always protect your skin by wearing rubber gloves;
- Make sure you use it where there is good air circulation; and
- Avoid mixing different cleaners. Combining cleaning agents like ammonia and bleach will produce chloramine, a gas that causes severe breathing problems and could be fatal if inhaled in large quantities.
2. Non-Stick Cookware.
The invention of non-stick pots and pans may seem helpful because it eliminates the concern about food sticking to the surface. However, non-stick cookware contains trace amounts of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a cancer-causing chemical. When the lining of those pots and pans gets scratched or chipped, the chemicals can seep into your food. It would be safer to swap the non-stick for cast iron or stainless steel cookware.
3. Air Fresheners.
The purpose of air fresheners is to keep your home smelling fresh and clean. Instead, it pollutes your home with several highly flammable, cancer-causing chemicals, including formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p-dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants. If you’re going to use air fresheners, it’s best to keep them away from open flames and spray in well-ventilated areas. Or you can opt for non-toxic alternatives like baking soda and vinegar, which both absorb odors.
4. Antibacterial Cleaners.
Antibacterial cleaners usually contain a fragrance, surfactant, and pesticide, which can cause irritation to your eyes and burn your skin and throat. Therefore, you should wear latex gloves when using these cleaners. And if the product comes in contact with your skin or eyes, wash the area immediately.
5. Plastic Food Containers.
Plastic food containers consist of chemicals like phthalates, which give plastic flexibility, durability, and transparency. However, plastic eventually breaks down, especially when you add heat to it. That breakdown releases phthalates and other dangerous chemicals into your food, causing damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. To protect yourself from these health risks, avoid heating and storing food in plastic containers and switch to glass containers.
6. Antibacterial Soaps.
You may have grown accustomed to using antibacterial soaps and gels to keep your hands free from germs. But every time you do so, you may be rubbing toxic chemicals like triclosan and triclocarban on your skin. Who wants harmful substances that create antibiotic-resistant bacteria all over their hands? Using regular soap and water is a safer, effective way to keep germs away.
7. Oven Cleaners.
Many oven cleaners contain poisonous and corrosive ingredients such as lye. If inhaled or ingested, these chemicals can cause severe tissue damage and may be fatal. That is why you should always wear protective gear (apron, gloves, and safety goggles) and operate in a well-ventilated area when working with oven cleaners. Or you can opt for an oven cleaner that doesn’t include lye.
8. Insect Repellents.
When you apply repellents to protect your skin from biting insects, you’re also exposing yourself to pesticides such as pyrethrin and chemicals commonly known as DEET. These chemicals may burn your eyes, skin, and throat and cause anxiety, a loss of coordination, and mental and behavioral changes. Spraying insect repellent only on your clothing can help prevent this threat to your health and will still shield you from bugs.
You may use these products to eliminate pests from your home or pets, but you could make yourself sick in the process. The same pesticides found in bug sprays are also in pet flea and tick treatments. These chemicals can cause headaches, dizziness, twitching, and nausea. When handling insecticides, make sure not to use them on or around surfaces that come in contact with food. And if you use flea and tick medication on your cat or dog, it’s best to wait 24 hours before petting them.
Similar to other toxic household products, chlorine bleach contains chemicals that can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat and damage the esophagus and stomach if consumed. Therefore, you should always handle bleach with caution by wearing protective gear, using it in a properly ventilated area, and keeping it away from young children.
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