6 toxic household items you need to get rid of

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If you thought you were safe from pollutants inside the house, think again. Latest research suggests that chemicals in everyday products may place us at risk for health problems — from infertility and birth defects to certain types of cancer. While it’s impossible to avoid exposure to all environmental chemicals, there are means to rid your home of many of these potential toxins. As compiled from Good Housekeeping magazine, alternet.org and everydayhealth.com, steer clear of these items to evade health mishaps.

1. Pizza boxes

It has taken more than a decade, but Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which was used to make Teflon and linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and thyroid disease, has finally been completely phased out of production. But hold the celebration just yet, because the chemicals harnessed to replace PFOA, known as PFASs, are now added to thousands of products, such as the box containing your pizza. That box is likely covered in a clear coating (that’s negligible to the eye) to keep grease from soaking through the cardboard. As it turns out, the coating has been linked to birth defects and cancer. Ask for your take-out pizza slice in foil, not a box. Also, consider prepping your fave chicken tikka pizza using premade dough, it will be on the dinner table faster, taste fresher, and save you money — just saying! 

2. Plastic food containers

Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly added to plastics to make them flexible. But they also mimic hormones in the body, interfering with normal fetal development and possibly increasing the risk of reproductive health impacts, such as compromising fertility in men. Concerns about phthalates have led to its replacement in recent years in hundreds of products by other phthalates known as DINP and DIDP. The downside? The replacement chemicals have been linked to high blood pressure and insulin resistance in adolescents, and birth defects in baby boys. Avoid plastic wrap and plastic food containers when possible and resort to using tin foil, glass jars and ceramic containers instead. 

3. Candles

Most of us will agree that there’s nothing better at adding atmosphere to a room than candles. But as those candles fill the room with warm light, they’re also permeating your space with harmful gases and sediments. And it doesn’t always matter whether the candle is paraffin, vegetable oil, or beeswax based. During combustion, all candles release some soot carbon particles that can lead to respiratory problems. While the candle industry insists that the final product is inert, studies have shown that the burning of paraffin candles releases benzene and toluene — both known carcinogens — into the atmosphere. And even if you pay a hefty price for a high-end candle, it doesn’t make it any safer. If you can’t live without your candles, consider those made from natural dyes and perfumes. 

4. Markers

Disclaimer: your kids might disapprove! Permanent and dry-erase markers are both a favourite tool and toy in many households. But that pungent aroma they give off can be a hint to their toxicity. Markers are often rich in chemical solvents, including xylene, which is a neurotoxic aromatic hydrocarbon that can leave people feeling sick even after exposure to trace amounts. You’ve probably noticed how it can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat when you first remove the marker’s cap. Other common complaints are headaches, breathing difficulties, dizziness and brain fog after exposure to markers, even those that are labelled as “Non-Toxic.” 

5. Carpets

A cosy carpet seems like a great idea (especially in winters)! But several industrial chemicals used to repel stains are linked to a host of health problems. Older carpets often include PFOA, the chemical linked to cancer and thyroid disease. Carpets from within the past decade most often contain chemicals called PFASs, which build up in the body and are passed to babies through breast milk. Leading scientists are concerned about the health risks of PFASs. What you can do — if your carpet hasn’t been changed in a couple of years, maybe now is the time to invest in rugs. Rugs are safer whilst providing the cosiness that carpets offer. Plus, area rugs are easier to wash if you do get spills. 

6. Hand sanitiser

Uh oh! The antimicrobial compound triclosan, widely used to kill germs for decades, is a prime ingredient in hand sanitisers. But triclosan has been linked to hormone problems including infertility and early puberty, and it could cause liver cancer. Despite the fact that triclosan is no better than soap and water for removing germs, manufacturers are phasing triclosan out, only to add in benzalkonium chloride, another antibacterial chemical that is proven to exacerbate asthma.  Solution — avoid antibacterial products. Unless you are prepping an operating room, they are, uncalled-for. Use soap and water instead. If you like having a hand sanitiser when you are on the go, look for one powered by ethyl alcohol.

 

 

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