How Can You Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins?
Nov 19, 2019 08:39 PM EST | By Staff Reporter
There are so many ways we can experience exposure to harmful poisons, and in many cases, we may not realize it's happening. From household cleaners and similar products to children's toys, there are often toxins and poisonous products and ingredients lurking in even the most unsuspecting of places.
These toxins and poisonous products can be a big deal. For example, a report by the British Medical Journal in 2004 states that environmental and lifestyle factors are primary determinants of human disease. According to their estimates, these account for as many as 75% of most cancers. There are anywhere from 400 to 800 chemicals stored in most people's bodies in America, primarily in fat cells.
It can be challenging to identify toxin exposure, meaning it may be years before someone with exposure sees the results, often in the form of acute or chronic illnesses.
With busy lives and many things on most of our plates, it's nearly impossible to monitor every single material we come in contact with to determine whether or not it contains hazardous materials.
However, there are general steps you can take to at least reduce your potential exposure and risk level somewhat.
One step is to have an understanding of what the most common toxins are in our home environments on average. Another step is to try and find ways to replace the most hazardous products, and ventilating your home regularly, especially during winter, is also important.
What Are the Most Toxic Items Most of Us Have in Our Homes?
Certain items are the leading culprits as far as toxin exposure in our homes. These include:
- Plastic water bottles often contain BPA, which can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Even though many companies have replaced BPA, they have done so with BPS, which is known to disrupt the normal functioning of cells. It's best to avoid plastic water bottles altogether and instead think about using a glass water bottle or a polypropylene plastic water bottle.
- Another toxic issue in your home are those plastic food containers, which are often made with chemicals called phthalates. These chemicals can mimic hormones in the body. Use glass containers to store food instead.
- Stain-resistant carpets can seem amazing, particularly if you have children in your home, but these carpets often include harsh and potentially toxic chemicals, particularly older stain-resistant carpets. If you're able to replace your carpets, choose natural materials the next time around, such as wool and sisal.
- Food additives are extremely prevalent in many things we eat and especially packaged foods. Try to find food that doesn't contain artificial flavorings or coloring and opt for items without added preservatives. If you're able to cook at home with fresh, organic ingredients, do so as much as possible.
- If you spray bugs or weeds in and around your home, it can be a source of toxin exposure. Try to use natural methods to keep pests out of your home, such as traps and making sure crumbs are cleaned up quickly. Don't use chemical-based flea-and-tick collars on plants, and try to pull weeds rather than spraying if you can.
- Skip the dry-cleaning or use a dry-cleaning service that focuses on the use of safer products. Dry cleaners often use a chemical called perchloroethylene, which can cause air pollution within your home.
- Volatile organic compounds or VOCs are chemicals that can vaporize easily and release toxins into your home. This is a very general term because there are actually more than 400 compounds that are considered VOCs. They are significantly higher in indoor air than outdoor air. VOCs can come from anything from new electronics to cosmetics and shampoos.
Regular Deep Cleaning
While you may not be able to fully eliminate every toxin from your home, there are things you can do to make for better air quality, and one of those things is deep cleaning your home frequently. It takes a lot of work, but even just a little dust in your home can make allergies more prevalent among the members of your family, and it contains a lot of hazardous chemicals.
Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter and vacuum at least twice a week. Every time you vacuum, clean the bag or tank so that dust isn't flying back into your home.
Get Your Home Professionally Tested
If you have lead paint or products in your home or radon, it can be incredibly dangerous. For example, radon is linked to the development of cancer, and if you're pregnant, lead poisoning can cause brain damage in your developing baby.
If you live in a home built before 1978, you should especially think about getting your home tested for lead. You can also buy a radon test kit at hardware stores.
Reevaluate Baby Products
If you have a baby or young child in your family, many of the products you use for them may contain toxic substances.
For example, a recent study found that many changing pads contain polyurethane fame and other chemicals linked to infertility cancers and learning disabilities. The same can be said for crib and bassinet mattresses.
Baby products like powder and baby oil may be harmful toxin sources. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that you don't use baby powder on your baby because if it's made of talc, it may be contaminated with asbestos, and your baby may be breathing in tiny particles that can cause lung irritation, as can you.
Baby oil contains petroleum byproducts and potentially toxic fragrances.
Finally, if you use an antibacterial hand sanitizer, you may want to think about replacing it. Antibacterial gels and wipes can contain triclosan, which has been associated with cancer in lab studies on animals. It's better to wash your hands with warm water and soap whenever possible.
It's not possible to avoid all toxin exposure, but it is possible to reduce your exposure with a cleaner, fresher home and more consciousness about what products are most likely to contain toxins.
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