Q - I have really enjoyed your past articles about recycling and hidden chemicals in our homes. I wondered if you had more information on the topic?
A - January was “De-tox Your Life” month (yeah, that was news to me too). So I did some digging on finding and eliminating the hidden chemicals that could be polluting your home and your family. I found some interesting and surprising information:
1) Clean Green
Household cleaners can hide toxic chemicals and a clean house isn’t supposed smell like a mountain breeze. All of those synthetic chemicals and fragrances can actually pollute the air inside your home. You can find seven must-have ingredients and recipes to clean your entire home at http://doyourpart.com/category/green-living/columns/.
2) Free Yourself of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is linked to a number of health issues, including asthma and cancer. It’s often emitted over many years from certain pressed wood pieces, flooring adhesives, and paint. It’s also emitted from wrinkle-free bedding, dry cleaned clothes, and many nail polishes. Choosing natural fibers that can be laundered and seeking formaldehyde-free home furnishings are a great first step at reducing your exposure.
3) Ban VOCs From Your Home
Formaldehyde is one of the most notorious volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but there are many others. They include benzene, toluene, methylene, and chloride. VOCs are found in paint, personal care products, furniture, carpets, and adhesives. You can specifically seek out low VOC paints and you’ll want to do a little research to see what’s really in the products you use at home.
4) Choose Better Personal Care Products
This really requires some work on your part but fortunately the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database, www.cosmeticsdatabase.com, makes it easy. You can search thousands of products to find out what’s really in them and how they ranked compared to others.
5) Know What You’re Eating
When possible, opt for organic foods that are grown and processed without using synthetic chemicals or sewage sludge. Familiarize yourself with the so-called “Dirty Dozen” list to find out which types of produce contain the highest amount of pesticide residue.
6) Give BPA plastic the Boot
Several studies have linked bisphenol-A or BPA to developmental problems, cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and infertility. BPA is used in polycarbonate (PC) containers that are often marked No. 7. Plastics marked No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 are safer choices.
7) Choose Natural Pest Control Products
Chemical pesticides can be bad for you and your pets. Natural alternatives like vinegar, borax, or diatomaceous earth (DE) are effective and much safer. DE is a powder made from microscopic fossilized shells and works on everything from bedbugs to roaches.