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7 Toxic Products in Your Home

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Some people say the further we get away from nature, the more problems we get into. So many of the conveniences and advances of the last centuries – specifically plastics and synthetics – turn out to be not so safe when used over the long term – or in excess. You can’t always avoid everything that’s dangerous or unhealthy, but here are seven of the more toxic things in the average home that you want to avoid.

Mattresses

Because all mattresses (including baby mattresses!) are sprayed with flame retardants, there’s no avoiding this one unless you can find mattresses made from wool or other naturally flame resistant materials.  Synthetic foam is full of chemicals, too, but there are natural (and expensive) alternatives.  If a “natural” mattress is out of your price range, the best thing to do is to air out a new mattress for several days in a well-ventilated room (or let it sit outdoors!) before you use it.  Also use full, wrap-around mattress covers that can keep some of the chemicals from escaping.

Nonstick Cookware

While it seemed like a great idea at the time, Teflon and other non-stick coatings on pots and pans aren’t so great after all.  Heating the coating over 500 degrees – especially if it’s scratched – causes chemicals to be released that end up in your food.  If you’re stuck on non-stick, buy high quality versions, don’t use high heat or toss them as soon as you see a scratch.  I finally switched to cast iron which can take the heat and is surprisingly easy to clean.

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Pesticides

Most pesticides don’t belong inside or outside of the home.  Besides burning, irritation and possible poisoning, there are many natural ways of dealing with pests. But if mixing up a batch of natural pesticide or sprinkling eggshells around your garden (to stop grubs) isn’t for you, look for products contain pyrethrin, a floral derivative, that is relatively safe, effective and degrades in a short time.

Cleaning Products and Air Fresheners

You know about caustic chemicals like bleach and ammonia, but most modern day home cleaning products have a lot of other chemicals that can irritate lungs, nose, eyes and skin.  Same thing goes for air fresheners whether in spray, candle or liquid form. With a variety of natural products on the market now, it’s worth trying some out to find replacements for your current cleaning supplies. And of course, white vinegar, lemon juice and cooking oil can often be used – and are just as effective in some cases – as products you but at the store.  Check out some of our past posts on natural air fresheners, mold removers and some home cleaning DIY formulas.

Carpets

Once again, flame retardants are the primary reason carpets are so toxic.  And once again, letting the area air out before moving back in can help.  But most carpets are made of synthetic materials that can cause irritation.  Look for brands or products that are made of natural materials or labeled okay for allergies or environmentally safe.

Plastic Food Storage and Bottles

While not bad for freezing or short-term storage, unless they’re marked BPA free, plastic containers and bottles chemicals within the plastic may leech into food – especially if you heat the food in the containers.  Besides looking for BPA free products, avoid heating plastic containers or putting them in the dishwasher.

Vinyl

Vinyl contains Phthalates, a softening chemical that’s found in a host of products including shower curtains, flooring and many other soft or flexible plastic or synthetic products.  Long term exposure is considered harmful and the sheer amount of it in the average home is problematic.  Choose alternatives to vinyl products where you can since there are some products it’s in that you can’t avoid (like electrical cords!).

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by on July 8th, 2014