Just being a neat freak doesn’t safeguard you from nasty illnesses and health hazards. Your home has a number of toxic chemicals no matter how clean you keep it. And they’re usually present in products you didn’t even know had them. Wondering what these chemicals are? Here are 7 toxic chemicals you are likely to find in things around your home and in your food.
7 Toxic Chemicals You Didn’t Know Were In Your Home
These toxic compounds are abundant in items like shower curtains, paints, and furnishing finishes as well as products with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They’re also components of food containers and products with synthetic fragrances.
Phthalates have been under constant scrutiny because of their harmful effects on the production of the reproductive hormones testosterone and estradiol. Research suggests that exposure to some phthalates may increase the risk of breast cancer.1
To steer clear of phthalates, avoid using vinyl products and items with synthetic fragrances.
2. Glycol Ethers
Research suggests that glycol ethers – which are found in cosmetic products, adhesives, and cleaners – are likely to lower sperm motility, making them hazardous for male fertility.2
Check the labels of cosmetics and cleaners before you buy them and purchase the ones that are free from these toxic chemicals.
In the past, arsenic was used extensively in pesticides, paint, and wood preservatives, which made its presence abundant in the environment. However, its inorganic use has been restricted in the recent past. That said, because this deadly element is also naturally present in the soil, it makes its way into the food and water we consume anyway.
Arsenic is infamous for its effects on human health. In large doses, it can cause vomiting, dehydration, and skin disorders. It also increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. The inorganic form and compounds of arsenic are also said to be cancer causing substances.3
Reduce exposure to this toxic element by using water filters certified to remove it from drinking water. Avoiding it in food is a quite difficult because it’s hard to tell which foods contain high amounts of it. So, it’s a good idea to limit your consumption of grains like rice and eating a variety of grains instead.
4. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
If you have tons of non-stick pots and pans, you may have to get rid of them because of their abundance in PFCs. Products and food packaging that are stain-, grease-, and water-resistant also contain these chemicals in excess.
Exposure to PFCs has, for long, been known to cause fertility issues like difficulty in conceiving and low sperm motility. They’ve also been known to result in thyroid disruption, which in turn affects the functioning of all other hormones and harms fetal brain development.4
Use utensils that have polyurethane coatings instead of the non-stick kind and get rid of packaging material if it’s stain-, grease-, and water-resistant as soon as you take it off to bring down your exposure to PFCs.
5. Flame Retardants
Flame retardants are substances added to products that are potentially flammable to reduce the impact of fires on them. These products may include furniture, carpets, and electronic items.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – a class of flame retardants – have been found to be widespread environmental pollutants. These compounds have been associated with a number of serious health concerns in humans such as tumors, developmental disabilities in fetuses whose mothers were exposed to PBDEs during pregnancy, and hormonal imbalances.5 This is why many of these compounds are gradually being phased out or banned.
Flame retardants are said to bind to the dust as and when the substances on which they’re used start wearing out. So, the best way to get rid of them is to keep cleaning around the house.
The major source of this heavy metal is lead-based paint. However, it can also end up in drinking water from old water pipes, which used to be made of it.
Short-term exposure to high levels of lead can result in lead poisoning, which is accompanied by symptoms like abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Long-term exposure may increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and reduced fertility. It has also been found to affect the behavior and intelligence of developing babies.6
To reduce lead exposure, ensure that your water filter is the certified lead removing kind. A healthy diet is also believed to bring down a person’s ability to absorb lead.
If you’re a germophobe and use antibacterial soap way too much, it’s time to stop. These soaps contain a chemical called triclosan, which has been associated with increases in body mass index (BMI) as high as 1.5.7
While it’s good to ward off germs, use only as much of antibacterial soaps as you need to prevent the harmful effects of chemicals like triclosan.
Apart from these compounds, which you are likely to find in products used around the house or in the food you consume, look out for other toxic chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), dioxins, perchlorate, mercury, ammonia, triclosan, and glyphosate. If you’re looking to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals through food, wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before you eat them and consume a variety of grains. Also, ensure that you keep your surroundings clean and check the labels of store-bought items to steer clear of these toxic chemicals.
|↑1||López-Carrillo, Lizbeth, Raúl U. Hernández-Ramírez, Antonia M. Calafat, Luisa Torres-Sánchez, Marcia Galván-Portillo, Larry L. Needham, Rubén Ruiz-Ramos, and Mariano E. Cebrián. “Exposure to phthalates and breast cancer risk in northern Mexico.” Environmental health perspectives 118, no. 4 (2010): 539.|
|↑2||Cherry, Nicola, Harry Moore, Roseanne McNamee, Allan Pacey, Gary Burgess, Julie-Ann Clyma, Martin Dippnall, Helen Baillie, and Andrew Povey. “Occupation and male infertility: glycol ethers and other exposures.” Occupational and environmental medicine 65, no. 10 (2008): 708-714.|
|↑3||Arsenic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑4||Potential human health effects of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health.|
|↑5||Costa, Lucio G., Gennaro Giordano, Sara Tagliaferri, and Andrea Caglieri. “Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants: environmental contamination, human body burden and potentialadverse health effects.” Acta Bio Medica Atenei Parmensis 79, no. 3 (2009): 172-183.|
|↑6||LEAD. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑7||Lankester, Joanna, Chirag Patel, Mark R. Cullen, Catherine Ley, and Julie Parsonnet. “Urinary triclosan is associated with elevated body mass index in NHANES.” PloS one 8, no. 11 (2013): e80057.|