Five Things in Your Home That Are Bad for You and Your Environment

The modern home is one that contains many products, and we often don’t think twice about the ingredients used to make those products. Several recent studies, however, have shown that even some of our most commonly-used household products actually contain components that are harmful to our health and environment. Listed below are five of those products.

Plastics that contain BPA: Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound that is used to make plastics. In recent years, BPA has become a hot topic, because studies have shown that long-term exposure to it can be harmful to our health in a number of ways.

In the past, most plastic products (including baby bottles and food and beverage containers) contained BPA. Today, the use of BPA to make baby bottles has been banned in the European Union and Canada.

Elsewhere today, it is fairly easy to find plastic products that clearly advertise that they are BPA-free. It is wise to purchase BPA-free plastics, whenever possible, to decrease your risk of potential health problems caused by exposure to the chemical.

Wall paint containing VOCs: Traditional household paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs contain carbon and are unstable. They easily vaporize into the air, and when they enter the air, they react with other elements to produce ozone.

This creates pollution and can cause several health issues, including respiratory problems, burning eyes, nausea and headache. Some studies have also shown that VOCs can cause cancer.

As an alternative to traditional paints, there are now household paints in the market that advertise as containing “no” or “low” VOCs. Be aware, however, that you will need to paint several coats of no/low VOC paint to stop the release of VOC vapors from the original paint layer.

Toxic household cleaners: There are five particular household cleaning product ingredients that have been tied to a string of health and environmental problems. Any product containing phosphates, chlorine bleach, napthas, phthalates and formaldehyde should be avoided.

Phosphates are usually found in dishwasher and laundry detergents and can cause algae bloom in the water supply, which is toxic to the fish and plants in the water and the people who drink the water.

Chlorine bleach is found in many detergents and bathroom cleaning products. Because it breaks down slowly in the environment, it can remain in the water supply and build up in the fatty tissue of animals and humans.

Naptha, used to make furniture polish, are neurotoxic. Phthalates (also used in furniture polish) can cause genetic defects in humans and animals and are known hormonal disruptors. Formaldehyde can be found in many different products and can cause cancer. When possible, it is best to choose household cleaning products that are made with all-natural and less toxic ingredients.

Older products that contain lead: In some countries, household products containing lead are still produced. However, most manufacturers in countries like theUnited States try to avoid making products containing lead. If you haven’t purchased new blinds or furniture in the past 10 years, chances are, they contain lead.

You can check the brand and manufacturing date to double check if they do contain lead or not, but if they do, consider replacing those items with newer, lead-free versions. When exposed to us at a certain level, lead becomes a poisonous substance and can damage the nervous system and cause brain disorders.

Teflon: Teflon is the substance used to make non-stick cooking pans. These pans should not be heated at high temperatures, because the Teflon releases a toxic gas that could possibly cause cancer and other health problems.

Also, you must use only plastic or wood utensils when cooking with a Teflon non-stick pan. If you use metallic utensils, the Teflon coating will scrape off and get into your food and water system. There are other non-stick pans available that do not use Teflon technology. These seem to be less-harmful to your health and the environment.

(This article was written by Jillian Lewis. She works as an environmental educator and also owns the website In her spare time, she enjoys writing, hiking and mountain climbing.)

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2 Comments on this Post

  1. I applaud the idea of creating a safer home, and because there’s so much misinformation out there about the Teflon® brand, I’m not surprised that you are concerned. I’m a representative of DuPont though, and hope you’ll let me share some information with you and your readers so that everyone can make truly informed decisions.

    Regulatory agencies, consumer groups and health associations all have taken a close look at the Teflon® brand. This article highlights what they found — the bottom line is that you can use Teflon® non-stick without worry.

    I’d truly be glad to share additional information about it if you are interested, and appreciate your consideration of this comment. Cheers, Sara.

  2. Yes please, looking forward to knowing more on that. regards

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