Harmful Household Items You Need To Know About

According to the rules of toxicity, anything can be toxic at a certain dose. While it is impossible to avoid every toxin and potentially harmful substance around us, we can still do our best by staying educated to help reduce exposure. The combination and formulation of chemicals affect their toxicity level. Many products are not regulated by law to disclose all ingredients or disclose the results of tests on things that can cause us harm. 

Harmful Household Items

There are many unknown dangers around our home, most of which we have no idea can be harmful to our health. Here’s a list of common household items that truly put you and your health at risk.

1. Nonstick Cookware

Most non-stick cookware utilizes polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coating which is what prevents sticking. At high heat, PTFE turns into toxic Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA cannot be metabolized by the body. This can have harmful effects on the endocrine and immune system as well as the liver. PFOA can also cause numerous types of tumors.

Instead of using cookware with PTFE, try to find cast iron, stainless steel, or lead-free ceramic.

2. Furniture Polish

Many furniture polishes purchased in store have formulations containing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is an alleged carcinogen as well as a known skin, nose, and eye irritant. Formaldehyde can also cause headaches.

An all-natural (and cheaper) furniture polish can be made at home by combining 2 parts olive oil, 2 parts vinegar and 1 part lemon juice.

3. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Many toilet bowl cleaners contain hydrochloric acid, or also known as HCl. This chemical is poisonous if ingested, specifically damaging to the liver.  HCl can be eroding to the skin and irritating to the eyes. If inhaled, HCl will cause irritation to the respiratory tract.

A homemade, safer alternative would be to combine vinegar and essential oil in a small spray bottle. Spray mixture in and around the toilet, while pouring some inside the bowl. After allowing the mixture to sit for several minutes, sprinkle baking soda in and around the toilet. Then scrub toilet and wipe off with a wet rag.

4. Old Mattresses

Sometimes we fall in love with our mattresses and the comfortable spot we have spent years imprinting into it. What we don’t realize though are the other things that we have put into it. Over time a large amount of body oils, bodily fluids, and dead skin can seep into your mattress. Dust mites and millions of other microscopic bugs can make themselves comfortable in our mattress as well.

Recommendations of when to replace mattresses can vary from 4-15 years. Many factors affect this such as average amount of use, exposure to bodily fluids (accidents with child, night sweats etc.), and if the mattress has been flipped (pillow top mattresses generally are not made to be flipped). All of these should be taken into consideration when assessing mattress toxicity and when to replace. A mattress pad or protector can limit the accumulation of these toxins on your mattress and extend its life expectancy.

5. Plastic Food Container

Many plastic food containers are comprised of bisphenol A (BPA), a class of chemicals known as phthalates. Tiny bits of plastic can get into our food from containers during a process called “migration” or “leaching”. This occurs most when microwaving food in these types of containers, which most of us do. 

Most BPAs act as an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can affect our hormone production. This can have a variety of negative impacts on your health. These are susceptible to travel from the packaging to food and into the body. Studies have found that the migration of BPAs in plastic amplified with storage time can sometimes reach up to more than 50 times the normal amount. 

A safer alternative would be to use reusable glass or ceramic containers to store food. Ideally reheating these foods on the stove or in the oven.

6. Antiperspirants 

Antiperspirants cause more harm than good. Sweat is one of the body’s natural methods of releasing toxins. Antiperspirants not only block this release, but can store and introduce new toxins into the body. 

Active ingredients in most antiperspirants include an aluminum-based compound. These compounds are what stops the flow of sweat from surfacing on the skin by forming a plug in the sweat duct. Some research finds that these can be absorbed by the skin and have an estrogen-like effect, which disrupts the hormonal balance.

A safer alternative would be to use a natural, aluminum-free deodorant like Schmidt’s, Native, or Arm & Hammer Natural Deodorant. 

7. Soy

Soy has been mentioned in all types of health claims – good for you, bad for you, consume a lot, consume a little, or should it be completely avoided? Although these claims are debatable, it is a fact that over 90-95% of soybeans in America are genetically modified. Genetically modified foods, commonly referred to as GMO, have been linked to a multitude of health problems.

Soy contains a high concentration of isoflavones which are a type of phytoestrogen, meaning an estrogen found in plants. Phytoestrogens function is similar to human estrogen however, its effects are weaker. These isoflavones can bind to receptors in humans causing either weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic reactions. Although a weak reaction, this binding has been linked to multiple health issues including kidney, bone, cardiovascular disease and as well as some cancers.

There are new products being introduced regularly that provide a great alternative to soy. For example, there are now oat, almond, and coconut milk products for people who are looking for dairy free alternatives to soy.

8. Canned Soda

The nutrition facts on a soda can are quite disturbing when taken into consideration. Full of sugar and empty calories, soda does not serve much of a purpose besides tasting good. The majority of the calories come directly from the high fructose corn sugar content. A single can contains the equivalent to ten sugar cubes. This is in one can. 

Think about how easy it is to drink one can of soda and go for the next. Highly acidic soda can eat away at the enamel on your teeth and be extremely harsh on your digestive system. You would need to drink 2 liters of water to dilute the acidity of just one can of soda.

Infused water with lemon, mint, cucumber, and fruit can be a great, healthy alternative for a flavorful beverage. 

9. Cosmetics and Hygiene Products

There are currently no labeling laws governing or demanding the disclosure of which chemicals and compounds are in cosmetics or hygiene products. Companies make their labels quite appealing and may boast that they are animal cruelty-free or have been clinically tested or proven. 

While these are great steps to take when creating products, it does not mean that they are not dangerous to us. Harmful chemicals can be found in everything from hair sprays to baby lotions. 

Another concern can be when hair products are heated with blow dryers or straightening irons where VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) can be formed. VOC’s then turn into gases or vapors that are easily inhaled. These can cause irritation to your eyes, nose, and throat, organ damage, and some are even potential or known carcinogens.

10. Lice Shampoo

Lice are small insects that spend their entire life living in our hair and sucking our blood. So it only makes sense that we would want to try to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Using strong chemicals seems necessary when trying to rid a head and your household of lice. 

Many lice shampoos and products contain active and inert ingredients that can be toxic, especially to children. Risks of active ingredients are often understood and accepted, but we cannot neglect to mind the inactive ingredients as we cannot assume that just because an ingredient is inactive does not mean it is nontoxic.

There are many natural lice treatments and preventatives including white vinegar, olive oil and tea tree oil that are also effective and much safer. 

11. Laundry Detergent

Similar to cosmetics, manufacturing companies are not required to list all ingredients. Laundry detergents can have a variety of ingredients that can be irritants and toxic. Dyes, fragrances, and brighteners can all contain harmful ingredients. 

Diethanolamine is a common ingredient in laundry detergent that is a suspected carcinogen and irritant. Dyes and optical brighteners often utilize non-natural compounds and do not serve any purpose beyond aesthetics. Many of these compounds are not biodegradable. “Fragrance” is often a term used for a combination of inorganic molecules used to create a pleasant scent.

Baking soda can actually be used as a cheap and easy alternative to store bought laundry detergents, vinegar can be added before the final rinse to lighten fabric as well.

12. Air Fresheners

Air fresheners are utilized all around us: in offices, living spaces, bathrooms, and cars. A typical air freshener emits over a hundred different chemicals. Products typically have warning labels to avoid inhaling the vapor contents. Typically, we think of this warning referring to an excessive amount, but even then, we have to consider what impact low dose long term inhalation can have. 

The earth provides us with a plethora of natural air fresheners. Flowers, spices and herbs can be displayed or boiled to provide a natural air freshener.

13. CFL Light Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs recently became all the craze for their energy savings benefits. While the cost and energy efficiency cannot be denied, neither can the dangers. These bulbs contain mercury, a potent neurotoxin. When bulbs are broken, the mercury vapor is released. 

It is habit to toss a burned-out bulb into the trash, not realizing or remembering that these bulbs need to be properly disposed of similar to batteries. It is important to learn proper disposal procedures of these bulbs, while also taking care while cleaning up if one is accidentally broken. 

14. Pet Food/Byproducts

Reading nutrition facts and ingredients on pet food products is just an important as reading them for ourselves. Many pet foods contain animal byproducts. Animal byproducts are the “leftovers” of a slaughtered animal that they are using for food purposes. Animal byproducts can include feet, organs and undeveloped eggs. 

While organs can be nutrient dense, other byproducts can cause health issues. They can be especially dangerous for us if coming from a country with different meat industry practices as we can get salmonella and more from our dogs. 

If unable to afford pet food completely byproduct free, it would help to find a product with byproducts not listed in the first few ingredients. 

15. Prescription Medication

Prescription medication is such a common aspect of life in the era we live in. The dangers of prescription medication are also an accepted common factor. If you have a problem, there is almost always a prescription for it. However, this help usually does not come without the trade of side effects, which are usually negative. And such the vicious cycle goes. 

Although there is a need for use of some prescriptions, focusing first on a healthier lifestyle can greatly reduce the need for most prescriptions. Healthy diet, regular exercise, and the use of herbs, spices and essential oils should all be used as a first line of offense and defense to many health issues. 

16. Batteries

Similar to CFL light bulbs, the dangers of batteries are typically related to breakage and improper disposal. It is the wonderful combination of chemicals, and their reactions, that create the energy from batteries that are also the things we need to be concerned of. These materials include acid, lead, nickel, lithium, cadmium, alkaline, mercury and nickel metal hydride. So it is important to take care when storing and disposing of batteries. 

Make Your Health A Priority

We are surrounded by toxins – while some level of exposure is unavoidable, being mindful and educated can greatly reduce our risk for ourselves and the people around us. If you need help making your health a priority, reach out to us today to schedule a no-cost consultation