Most people do their best to ensure their homes are safe. The idea of the place where you spend so much time slowly killing you is in many ways inconceivable. Lots of household items are potential irritants and/or can cause health complications. In general, though, the healthier a person is, the less likely he or she is to be affected by the potential contaminant. But in reality, certain items in your home can cause people to get sick and, in extreme circumstances, even kill due to continued exposure.
The concern with paint is lead. Some older homes have underlying layers of lead paint. When the paint chips children can eat the chips and be exposed to the lead. If there is scraping or sanding of surfaces with lead paint, the lead contaminated dust can be breathed in and cause illness – mostly neurological but also physical.
Most people don’t clean the bottom thoroughly. It holds a gasket where bacteria actually stay. You increase the risk of variety of health issues, Bruce White, Education Committe Chair and First Vice President of the Board of Directors at the Indoor Air Quality Association, says, such as salmonella, norovirus, and listeria. The CDC issued a warning and recalled certain dairy products after several deaths. Past outbreaks have been due to listeria in raw vegetables.
Drinking water not just hydrogen and oxygen; it has minerals and chemicals, some of which can be very harmful. The water varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it is drawn and the treatment – which can include chlorine or ozone – it receives. Toxins can still find their way into your home’s water system. Contaminant can range from industrial waste to radioactive substances.
A poorly maintained AC system can become contaminated and potentially harmful, studies suggest. Moisture-related HVAC components such as cooling coils and humidification systems may be sources of contaminants that cause adverse health effects. Findings also provide an initial suggestion that outdoor air intakes lower than 18 stories in office buildings may be associated with substantial increases in many symptoms such as worsening asthma problems and allergies.
Shower curtains, too, are likely to contain phthalates. Also, most plastic curtains are mildew magnets. Washable fabric shower liners will last longer than plastic ones, but do you really want to bother to wash and clean them often? Besides, you’re still going to have to throw them out in about three months. People with mold/mildew allergies will probably need to replace them even more often.
Anything from the floor increases the risk for mold and dander. It makes sense if you think about it. They are soaked after you leave the shower, providing a moist environment where mold and bacteria can thrive undisturbed. Make sure you follow the washing instructions. They usually need to be laundered once a week at a very high temperature and with bleach. Don’t wash together with bed sheets or clothes.
The phthalates are the biggest problem here as well. The chemicals can lead to hormonal imbalances and reproductive problems. Side effects for men include lower testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, and lower sperm quality, according to the National Resource Defense Council. Many air fresheners don’t even list phthalates as an ingredient.
They may smell good but what you’re inhaling can really harm you. The benzene chemicals can irritate the skin and cause breathing problems. Reproductive issues and damage to the brain and central nervous system have also been listed as possible side effects, according to the EPA. As they burn, the candles release toluene, another carcinogen. Consider essential oils or soy-based candles as replacements.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is the release (volatizing) of chemicals into the air. Health effects many include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination and nausea, damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Another big problem associated with carpets is dust. Anywhere you have dust you can have pollen and dander.
They contain phthalates, which are ingredients that are not required to be listed on labels. Even organic products can contain the harmful chemicals. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system. Use natural oil for fragrance, if possible. Congress has banned the use of some phthalates in children’s products.
A big concern, as is the case with carpeting, is chemical sensitivities, Spencer Hampy, CIE, CMC, and president of Oasis Indoor Environmental, says. Inter-reaction with other chemicals, disinfectant reactions, and residual on surfaces are also problems. The multipurpose cleaners widely used for windows and kitchen items have 2-butoxyethanol, the ingredient that gives cleaners their distinct smell. Side effects include breathing problems, low blood pressure, lowered levels of hemoglobin, and metabolic acidosis (high levels of acid in the body), according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
You may have heard of the toxic bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics? BPA disrupts normal endocrine function, studies have shown. The chemical can have a significant impact on the brain. BPA also messes with hormones even at low doses, a University of Texas study has indicated. Don’t take a chance and switch to glass containers or stainless steel.
Expired medical products can be less effective or risky due to a change in chemical composition or a decrease in strength, according to the FDA. Certain old meds are at risk of bacterial growth. Sub-potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance.
“Antibacterial” only sounds like a good product but it’s the triclosan component in the soap that causes problems. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that animal studies have shown triclosan, which is also found in certain toothpastes and cosmetics, alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals does not always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Non-stick pans and pots are very tempting but can also be harmful. This kind of cookware has been made with chemicals that can be harmful to the liver, thyroid, and immune system in general. The problem is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Toxicological studies on animals indicate potential developmental, reproductive and systemic effects, according to the EPA. Go for stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or iron pots and pans.
The problem is radon, a radioactive gas that comes from the soil. Exposure to it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking) in the U.S., according to the EPA. About 21,000 people die each year from radon-related lung cancer. You can test your house for radon, using a monitor. Designated safe standard levels are 2 to 4 picocuries per liter.
Canned goods are a problem because of the BPA chemical (bisphenol A) in the cans. The chemical is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. But studies link it to health problems like diabetes, neurological disorders, and breast and prostate cancers. Because BPA is an unstable compound and is also lipophilic (fat-seeking), it can leach into food products, especially when heated.
Anything that is powdered with gas releases toxins into the air. This is especially dangerous if you’re using gas or wood burning stoves and furnaces because they can all produce carbon monoxide, which can lead to poisoning. Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from it, according to the CDC. That’s why the agency recommends to never use a gas range or gas oven to heat a home.
The problem with oven cleaners is the sodium hydroxide in them. It’s also found in drain openers. The chemical is very corrosive and can cause redness and skin burns if it comes in contact with the skin. It’s toxic if ingested. Choose baking soda paste instead. You can safely clean a drain by pouring baking soda and a cup of vinegar in it. Run hot water down the drain after 30 minutes when the bubbles stop.
Potential problems with these common fridges include mold at door seals, depending on age refrigerant leaks. They have an electric coil in the freezer that melts frost every four hours, so you don’t have to do it. The water goes down to a tray and evaporates. If that pan has dust, which is likely, then all of it is blown right into your home. Make sure you clean the back of your fridge thoroughly.
The problem here is the PFC compound used to make everyday products more resistant to stains, grease, and water. These chemicals’ concentration increases over time in the blood and organs. The EPA says that research in animals has linked PFC to low birth weight, delayed puberty onset, elevated cholesterol levels, and reduced immunologic responses to vaccination.
Some items have a very long shelf life and that’s why people forget to check the expiration date. But it’s there for a reason. Products won’t work after a certain amount of time. You can risk food poisoning, cramping, and vomiting.