People everywhere are no longer “spring cleaning” their homes, they’re detoxifying them. Dust and clutter are annoying, but they're visible and (somewhat) easy to get rid of. Toxic chemicals are another beast entirely. Here are some tips on how you can make your home a safer, better place to live.
1. Use a Doormat and Go Shoeless
You can track some of these pollutants, bacteria, and bad substances into your home from outside. Use a doormat, and once at home, remove your shoes, put on a pair of slippers, socks or even go barefoot!
2. Avoid Some Bottled Water (and Bottles)
Some water sold in plastic containers may contain bisphenol A (BPA), a known carcinogen, or other chemicals called phthalates (THAL-lates). Either can migrate to food through the packaging. The latter group of chemicals has been linked to genital defects in male children and learning and behavior problems in older children.
Some recent studies have shed light on chemical replacements for BPA that manufacturers have been using, called bisphenol S (BPS) and fluorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF), that are also potentially harmful. While some plastics might not be coated with BPA and may be advertised as BPA-free, they might still be coated with other potentially toxic chemicals.
When buying food that's in plastic, select containers that are labeled free of BPA and phthalates. Rather than store food in plastic, use glass, ceramic, stainless steel or wood containers.
3. Understand Food Production
Foods that are high in fat are prone to chemicals like phthalates bonding to those fat molecules and leaching into them. Phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system — particularly the developing testes. Unfortunately, these days, it’s almost impossible to avoid phthalate exposure, because soft plastics are used widely in food production, and particularly in dairy production (cows are milked with plastic tubing), but there are important steps that you can take in order to decrease your exposure to them via the food you eat. Check out this piece for more.
One helpful tip, however, can reduce your exposure: phthalates in pesticides are not permitted in organic produce, meat, and dairy production, since pesticides are not permitted in the growing process.
4. Know Your Canned Goods
Many cans are lined with BPA because it keeps them from corroding. According to its 2017 study of canned goods at four large food retailers, the Center for Environmental Health found BPA in 40% of the cans it studied.
5. Smoke Outdoors
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke plays a hand in killing 41,000 non-smokers and 400 infants per year. The health problems it may cause include lung cancer, stroke and coronary artery disease. Children who are around smokers are at increased risk of respiratory ailments, sudden infant death syndrome, severe asthma, middle-ear problems and more. Go outside if you must smoke. But the healthiest option here is probably to quit.
6. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can kill. Some CO detectors plug into your electrical outlet. Others are battery-powered, some of which come with a sealed-in battery that lasts 10 years.
7. Live With Less Carpeting
The air inside your home is usually more polluted than the air outside. Wall-to-wall carpeting is a good place for dust mites, fleas, and more to thrive. Consider using area rugs made from wool, cotton or other natural fibers, to minimize the amount of chemicals in your home.
8. Get an Air Purifier
A portable air purifier with a filter helps to remove pollutants. They are especially helpful in the bedroom. Mop tile and linoleum floors once a week. Vacuum carpets weekly. A HEPA filter captures more pollutants than a standard one.
9. Clean Your Environment With Plants
House plants can remove harmful chemicals, including benzene, xylene, ammonia and formaldehyde from the air. Some recommended plants for doing this are the spider plant, dwarf date palm, bamboo palm, Boston fern and snake plant.
10. Use Wet Instead of Dry Cleaning
After your clothes are dry cleaned, they still emit chemicals. After getting your garments back, remove the plastic wrap because it traps in chemicals. Hang your wearables outside, if possible, until the fumes are gone. An alternative is to use wet cleaning, which uses water, special equipment and detergents instead of chemical solvents.
11. Select Cookware and Bakeware Carefully
Some studies report that pots and pans containing polychlorofluorocarbons may let the chemicals seep into food. The EWG says that at 700 degrees Fahrenheit or after three to five minutes on the stove, non-stick cookware can emit 15 toxins, two of which can cause cancer.
Replace this cookware with cast iron skillets or pots. Use stoneware and aluminum pans to replace non-stick baking sheets. Aluminum also works well for roasting. Glass products don't leach toxic elements into food, and Pyrex dishes are safe for use in your oven.
We’ve found that oftentimes the most convenient options and tools are probably also the most harmful to your health. It can be really challenging to keep up with all of the established and new findings when it comes to what’s in the things we bring into our homes. Hopefully, by breaking it down a little bit for you, you’re armed with more information than you had before!