by Alanna Keller
Did you know that the air inside your home is often more toxic than the air outside? In fact according to the Environmental Protection Agency our indoor air environment is two to six times more polluted than the outdoor air environment.
Considering that nowadays we spend on average 90% of our time indoors, it is extremely important to keep this air clean. You can invest in an air purifier, and other products that are supposed to clean the air inside of our homes -or you can let the air flow through your house as often as possible. If you can, go as natural and simple as possible when choosing cleaning products. Here are 6 of the most important toxic products to eliminate from your home:
1. Anything That Is Made With PVC Or Vinyl
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is the plastic type substance that is often found in shower curtains, food packaging, lunch boxes, backpacks, children’s toys, vinyl flooring and many other building materials. This substance is toxic and is a known and labelled carcinogen by the World Health Organization. This is probably why it is banned in at least 14 countries and across the entire European Union. (America, when will you catch on?)
How can we avoid PVC? If you are unsure about whether or not something is made from or contains PVC in its packaging, check where the recycling label is. If it is made with PVC it will say #3 or “PVC” right beside the label. For other products such as furniture, or toys you may have to call the manufacturer. There are also a lot of companies who are aware of the dangers associated with the use of PVC and will proudly label there products as “PVC FREE.” There are also some companies who are completely PVC free and won’t use it in any of their products, such as IKEA.
The majority of window and glass cleaners contain a highly poisonous chemical that you’ve probably heard of -ammonia. Almost all Windex products contain ammonia. This chemical can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory system, it is also corrosive. Store-bought and salon quality hair dyes are also a large source of ammonia.
To avoid products containing ammonia you can do the obvious and buy ammonia-free products. Or you can easily make your own cleaners, a simple solution of white vinegar and water works extremely well on windows and almost all other surfaces. It is also a natural disinfectant. There are also a lot of herbal based hair dyes that are chemical free and work really well.
3. Air Fresheners
Most air “fresheners” that are on the market today contain an array of toxic chemicals. Most notably though, they contain phthalates. Phthalates are directly related to cancer and hormone disruption. Not only that, but the plug-in type coat your nasal passages with an oil film called methoxychlor, which will kill the nerves in your nose over time, and interfere with your ability to smell.
To alleviate this problem it’s a great idea to open up the windows when you are cleaning and let fresh air flow through your house as often as possible. Consider using essential oil diffusers and making homemade spray fresheners with essential oils and water. You can also boil orange and lemon peels in water on the stove or cloves and other herbs and spices as well.
4. Antibacterial Soaps & Sprays
Whether it’s the commonly used hand sanitizer or the majority of disinfectant sprays that are available to us today, these antibacterial products may be doing more harm than good. Most of these products contain a compound called Triclosan, which has been sold as the answer to stopping the spread of germs, it has actually been responsible for spreading antibiotic resistance, and “super bugs.” Aside from that there are many adverse health effects including disruption to the thyroid gland.
There are many natural plant based alternatives that can be used to disinfect and even kill germs and stop the spread of bacteria. White vinegar and tea tree oil are great. Simply fill up a spray bottle with 2 cups warm water, 20 drops of tea tree oil, and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and voila! A natural disinfecting cleaner for your kitchen or bathroom. Young Living also makes a natural antibacterial hand sanitizer and soap using the “Thieves” blend of essential oils. It works very well!
5. Bisphenol -A (Or BPA)
Although the use of this chemical that is commonly used in plastic products has been extremely limited over the past few years, it is still legal and highly toxic. It can be found in pretty much anything plastic including baby bottle inserts, baby toys to food containers, food packaging and even water supply pipes. It is easier for this chemical to leach out of the plastic when it is heated, so it is best avoid heating it, but ideally it should not be used at all.
Try to avoid as much plastic as you can. You can opt for glass or food grade stainless steel containers for food storage. If you must use plastics for some things, opt for labels with “BPA FREE” and if you are unsure, check the recycling label on the package. If it has a 3 or a 7 then it may be made with BPA.
6. Volatile Organic Compounds (Or VOCs)
VOC’s are gasses that are emitted from certain solids such as: paint, pesticides, laundry detergent and a few others. They are highly toxic and have been linked to asthma and even cancer.
You can get paint without VOCs and can avoid using pesticides altogether. If you are not into trying a natural or homemade laundry detergent, then try to purchase the unscented kind. It has less or no VOCs than the regular “laundry smelling” kind of detergent.
There you have it, it is important to be aware of these harmful chemicals so that you can make a safer more informed choice for yourself, your family and the environment. The less people that support companies that use these chemicals, the less they will be manufactured. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. Let’s opt for a greener, cleaner, kinder environment one step at a time.
Sources are embedded throughout this article