Growing research suggests chemical toxins in everyday household products may increase the risk of autoimmune diseases, birth defects, cancers, and infertility. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now monitors 298 environmental chemicals found to accumulate in human tissues. Of course, the FDA is supposed to monitor the thousands of other drug chemicals put into the human body. And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors thousands of chemicals put into the environment as well.
But we can’t always count on the CDC, the EPA, or the FDA–so you have to take matters into your own hands. Fall is a good time to clean out your house and get rid of some of these harmful products. Here are some items around your home you may want to replace:
- Food containers
Plastic food containers can break down over time, especially when exposed to heat in dishwashers or microwaves. Plastic can also release dangerous chemicals into the food, including phthalates, which act as endocrine-disrupters.
So avoid storing foods, or buying prepared foods, in plastic containers. And never heat your food in a plastic container.
Instead, look for glass storage containers. Then you don’t have to worry whether ceramic containers or plates are “microwave safe.” (You can’t trust those labels from China anyway.) Glass is always microwave safe, as well as safe from chemical contamination.
- Cooking pans
Many non-stick pans contain traces of perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA)–a fluoro-hydrocarbon like those found to be harmful to the Earth’s ozone layer. The non-stick lining can scratch and scrape off right off into your food. So save the Teflon for politicians like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.
Instead, use olive oil and/or butter in stainless steel or cast iron cookware.
Remember, you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) scrub cast iron with soap and water. Just wipe out with oil to “cure” the cast iron.
If your stainless steel or cast iron cookware does get stained with burned contents, you will be amazed at what a little white vinegar placed in the pan and gently warmed will do.
- Air fresheners
The incompetent EPA is killing our economy and destroying our freedoms to supposedly reduce outdoor air pollution. Yet research shows air pollution has been steadily improving since the 1960s.
But what about indoor air pollution? The EPA doesn’t warn you about that serious problem at all! In fact, artificially scented candles and synthetic, plug-in scents often contain chemical phthalates. Eventually, these endocrine-disrupting chemicals can end up in your blood and tissues.
So don’t allow artificial air fresheners into your living and working environments.
You can find candles made with essential plant oils, dried flowers, and spices. Or, even better, instead of covering up unwanted aromas around your home, use natural ingredients like baking soda and white vinegar to remove them.
- Cleaning products
It amazes me how many harsh, chemical cleaning products I see on store shelves. But the government allows manufacturers to keep their chemical formulas a secret. So there’s no way of knowing exactly “what’s in there.”
Here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t use any product to clean your kitchen, bathroom, or any room in your home for that matter, if you feel like you should wear gloves to use it.
And skip the upholstery protection sprays. They often contain chemicals such as phthalates and surfactants. These stain blockers create a transparent plastic layer to “protect” upholstery. But when the plastic eventually wears off, it can release chemicals into the air.
So take a look under your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Throw out any harsh, chemical sprays you have hiding out under there. Instead, clean with natural products like baking soda, borax, hot water, vinegar, lemon, or soap powders. They work better and don’t require covering your home with toxins and releasing them into the air you breathe.
- Personal care products
Many antiperspirants, cosmetics, and perfumes pollute the air you (and others around you) breathe. So always use fragrance-free personal products.
Also, pay close attention to the ingredient list. Avoid deodorants made with aluminum-based compounds and other chemicals, such as parabens and “PEG-” numbered ingredients. You can absorb these chemicals through your sweat glands. And some research suggests possible concerns about cancer and dementia.
Cosmetics for personal care–from lipsticks to shampoos–can contain up to 126 different chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group. The average American woman applies up to 12 such items to their skin and hair every day. Men are only half as bad; they use an average of six products daily. Although, I’m hard pressed to figure out what these men are using, since I manage with only soap, water, and toothpaste every day, and no spray anything.
So here are some tips for choosing personal care items…
Opt for ingredients labeled “organic.” The word “natural” is essentially meaningless. Women should choose cosmetics with mineral-based pigments and moisturizers made with plant oils. Everyone should avoid soaps and shampoos that contain synthetic fragrances and chemicals such as triclosan. (I’ve warned you before about this harmful chemical still found in some hand sanitizers.)
The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) is a great resource. You can look up just about any product on the market to learn how it rates on safety.
In the meantime, throw out all the chemical products found around your home this fall. And go as pure as you can. Then, open the windows and enjoy the natural, invigorating scents of the crisp fall air.