Common Toxic Household Products

There are many unknown dangers around our home, most of which we have no control over. In a world of “going green” it’s hard to tell which products produce a threat to your health and which are simply natural alternatives. Here’s a list of common household items that truly put you and your health at risk.  There are suggested alternative listed below.  A very good website for all the best non-toxic products is Debra Lynn Dadd site –  Live Toxic Free:

1. Organophosphate Pesticides.  These are a type of neuro-toxic chemical used as chemical warfare agents in the 1930s.   Today, they account for about half of all pesticides used in the United States.   They are used to grow crops that end up being our food sources.   Children are especially vulnerable to exposure of these pesticides.  You can reduce your exposure to them by eating organic and using alternative pest control methods.


2. Non-Stick Cookware.  Polytetrafluoroethylene is the coating that makes products “non-stick” and it releases gases when heated.  These are known to put us at higher risk for harmful health risks.  Over heating a non-stick pan is also a well known cause of accidental death in small birds, such as parakeets.  Looking for ceramic cookware or ceramic coated cookware is a good first step.

3.  Phthalates.  These chemicals soften plastics and help scents and chemicals bind together.  They can be found in shampoos, conditioners, body sprays, hair sprays, perfumes, colognes, soap, nail polish, shower curtains, medical tubing, IV bags, vinyl flooring and wall coverings, food packaging and coatings on time-release pharmaceuticals.  You can reduce your exposure to phthalates by using unscented lotions and laundry detergents, microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic, using cleaning supplies without scents, and avoiding air fresheners and plastics labeled as No. 3, No. 6 and No 7.

4. Mothballs. Naphthalene is the chemical commonly used and is thought to destroy red blood cells and has been proven to cause cancer in animals.  It has not yet been proven to cause cancer in humans.  Avoid the risk all together and use cedar or pure diffused essential oils to protect your fine clothing instead.

5.  Flame Retardants. They can be found in televisions, computers, insulation and foam products, including children’s toys and baby pillows.  The chemical in that can shed and accumulate in dust. Exposure to the main chemical in flame retardants has been associated with thyroid issues.  There isn’t a list of which products contain these chemicals, (polybrominated diphenyl ethers),  but you may be able to minimize your exposure by looking for products that are flame retardant free.  These chemicals are especially common in older foam products such as sofas and mattresses.   Use of high efficiency HEPA filters in your vacuum and in air filters will also help minimize your exposure to this chemical

6. Air Fresheners. Toxins found in air fresheners can accumulate in the body over the time.   These toxins may affect hormones and reproductive health especially in children, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Use natural sprays, pure essential oils, or pure plant based incense instead.  Do your research because the labeling can be misleading on many of these products.

7. Oven and Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Furniture Polish and Stain. Many of the cleaners contain corrosive chemicals which can have negative effects on your gastrointestinal track and respiratory system if inhaled or ingested.  Non-vegetable, oil-based stains and polishes are extremely flammable and contain harmful chemicals that can be absorbed your skin.  There are many DIY formulas for common household cleaning products that use simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and other vegetable based ingredients.

8. Other Household Cleaning Solutions.  Most common household cleaners contain hazardous toxins. What is concerning is it’s not required for cleaners to list their ingredients on the bottle, which can be very misleading.  I personally have fallen for the scent and dye free formulas, only to discover they are just as bad as the rest.  Again, there are many truly green formulas available and do it yourself options abound.

9. Antibacterial Soaps.  In these days of antibiotic resistant bacteria, it is becoming well known that not only are these soaps contributing to the problem,  the chemicals in them are toxic.  Even the FDA has said the chemicals in the soap can be linked to creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and is not biodegradable.  Stick with pure plant based soaps like pure castile soap from Dr Bronner.  Or go to a farmer’s market and ask a local soap maker about their soaps.

10.  Indoor Air Pollution.   As houses become more energy efficient, is becoming more important to consider that pollutants we unknowingly bring in from outside and create through the burning of gas, oil, and candles.  Another source of indoor air pollution is the off gassing of chemicals used to make furniture, particleboard, plywood and pressed wood.  Many of these products use glues that contain formaldehyde.  You can look for green products when buying these items, or use an air filter and things like pure essential oils that may help break the harmful chemicals down.


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