All parents try to ensure that their family is happy and healthy, and do everything within their power to keep them safe and sound. But, it often doesn’t cross their mind that the products they are using to keep things clean and fresh may be placing them in immediate danger.
It seems that healthy nutrition is not enough
When you think of health and well-being, proper nutrition and supplementation are always on the top of the list of pathways to achieve the goal. You don’t consider analyzing the products you use for cleaning purposes, for example.
The truth is that there are a number of known carcinogens in our homes lurking in the shower, in the toilet, in the kitchen cupboard, and the rest of the household, that do have the potential to substantially increase the risk of you or a member of your family developing cancer.
Here is a list of potential dangers, from air-fresheners to shower curtains, which you can look out for to make your home safe again.
1. Air Fresheners
According to a report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, many of the air-fresheners we use in our homes on a regular basis contain compounds with carcinogenic potential. The vast majority of air-fresheners, even some marked “all-natural” or “unscented,” contain compounds called phthalates.
Different types of phthalates have different health consequences although the majority of them affect reproductive health. Also, many of them can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma.
Homemade air fresheners are one of the simplest products to make. Here is how to make an air freshener of your own:
Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s) into a spritz bottle with some distilled water and shake it well before each use.
Mist the spray around your home whenever you want to freshen the air. Or you can use it in an aromatherapy diffuser.
Instead of air fresheners, you can also use air filtering plants.
The other possibly dangerous and toxic product in your home could be lurking from your favorite scented candles. We all know that lead can be dangerous and lead poisoning can be disastrous for children’s health, but when you see advertisements for aromatherapy or candles, you automatically assume that these products are good for your health.
It is still a good idea to check your candles to make sure they don’t contain this potentially dangerous substance (although the US Consumer Council has banned the sale of candles containing lead wicks). Many scented products also contain dozens of harmful toxins and carcinogens. So, before your purchase, check the chemicals used to create the scents of your products as well.
A simple way to check your candles for lead is to use a piece of paper:
Holding the wick, try to draw a line on the paper. If there is no line, then the wick most likely does not contain lead. You can also light the candle and hold the paper high above the flame. If a gray soot residue forms, your candles may contain lead.
3. Shower curtains and other plastics
The next danger comes from the plastic toxins that seem to be all over the house. You may recognize polyvinyl chloride by its all-present abbreviation: PVC. It is true: PVC is the third highest produced type of plastic in the world! Although PVC may be harmless for certain home applications, like sewer pipes for example, when it is used in environments that can release the toxic carcinogenic compounds of PVC, this plastic polymer could become a ticking time-bomb.
Which are those other products? Well, shower curtains contain PVC and other toxic compounds that can be released while you are having a shower. These toxins can affect the reproductive system, the respiratory system, and may be carcinogenic as well. Some of the plastic products used to make children’s toys, durable plastic containers, and other plastics, may also be a health hazard.
What is the alternative for these plastics?
- Healthier alternatives for plastic shower curtains include: natural cotton curtains or EVA curtains (EVA is a non-toxic alternative to PVC). So, check your children’s favorite toys and your plastic containers to make sure they are PVC free.
4. Carpet cleaners and fabric shampoos
Many carpet shampoos and fabric cleaners that are designed to offer superior stain removal effect use a product called perchloroethylene. Perchloroethylene, also called tetrachlorethylene, has been linked to increased risks of developing lung cancer.
Carpet cleaners and fabric shampoos also sometimes contain a compound called naphthalene. Naphthalene is the main ingredient in mothballs, and naphthalene exposure is linked to an increased risk in developing both throat and lung cancers.
Is there a natural replacement for these dangerous cleaning substances? Sure!
- Baking soda is a great odor remover and white vinegar is effective for removing dirt and stains. If you want to get rid of your carpet shampoo, sprinkle your carpets with baking soda, add some vinegar to your water to shampoo, and then wait for your carpets to dry. Sprinkle with baking soda again if necessary, and then vacuum any visible powder that remains.
- Steam cleaning is another healthy option for keeping your carpets clean without letting the chemicals in carpet shampoo out.
5. Dry cleaning products
According to the American Cancer Society, another carcinogen hidden in your cupboards could be tetrachlorethylene or perchloroethylene that has been abundantly used on your dry-cleaned items. These chemicals are often included as solvents in products used for dry cleaning of fabrics.
Wearing clothes that were dry-cleaned can unintentionally expose you to these harmful substances. Make sure your local dry cleaner does not use perchlorethylene to clean your textiles.
6. Insecticides and pesticides
The term family usually extends to our furry dumb friends – pets. One would think that the products promoted as pet friendly would indeed be pet-and-human friendly. However, like your cleaning materials, there are a number of potentially carcinogenic chemicals in many of the tick, flea, and lice control products too.
Some tick and flea products contain organophosphate insecticides, permethrin, and carbamates. These products are listed as likely to be carcinogenic to humans. Instead using these products, opt for natural methods to get rid of fleas from your garden or pets.
7. Antibacterial products
We are often fooled into thinking that certain products are automatically safe. This is particularly true of products like antibacterial products that are supposedly designed to make our environments safer?!
Recent concerns about an ingredient used in many antibacterial products have led to banning the use of these product in the EU. For instance, triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal ingredient found in many cosmetics, soaps, detergents or toothpastes.
A list of scientific evidence suggests that triclosan may be carcinogenic. Although initial tests were only done on mice, there were enough concerns to ban the product in the EU.
Products like silver have been used for their antibacterial and antimicrobial properties (for example, advancing biotechnology incorporates ionizable silver into fabrics for clinical use to reduce the risk of infections), and the use of silver does not seem to pose any major danger to humans. However, at home you can make your own natural antiseptic soap, or make your own sanitizing natural household cleaner.
Finally, do NOT take safety for granted
The above list of products is just a sampling of the potentially hidden dangers in products that we take for granted. You need to take an proactive interest in the products you rely on to keep your family real safe. Research the products you use regularly and search the ingredients.
Detoxifying your home is an integral part of the detox concept. This includes not only detoxifying your body, but also detoxifying your mind and the closest environments too.
Natural Resources Defense Council
American Cancer Society