20 Ways to a Safer Home
We try to take care of our bodies by watching what we eat and drink and exercising. But did you know that you also need to take care of the toxins that may be lurking in your home?
Research shows that common household products and body-care products are increasingly being found to have negative effects on our nervous and immune systems, on our reproductive systems, and our cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Most chemicals found in our home cannot be tasted or smelled. Chemicals in the average home products may be fine in individual or small doses, but problems can arise when one is exposed to them in larger amounts, over extended periods or in a combination.
Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative physician and author on chronic disease prevention, says that tolerance levels to chemicals are different depending on genetics, nutritional status, and previous contacts with many chemicals.
Lipman also points out that many of the cleaning products we use to clean furniture, bathrooms and windows are full of toxic chemicals, some of which do not even appear on the labels. The same goes with personal care products that we put on our skin and pet products. “Most tick and flea products contain active ingredients and solvents that might cause cancer in animals,” says Lipman. Making sure you air out your home is also important in keeping toxic levels at bay. “Indoor air is typically 2-5 times more polluted that outdoor air and carpet can introduce a myriad of toxins to our homes,” adds Lipman. “Carpet can also trap dirt, fleas, dust-mites and lead.”
Lawn chemicals have also been linked to cancer and some are known to cause nervous system poisoning. “These findings are not saying that we should not keep our houses comfortable and clean and our yards looking good,” says Lipman. “What’s important is to understand that how we do this can have an important impact on our health. Abundant toxins can and do lead to health problems.”
Dr. Lipman and Planet Green.com offers 20 suggestions to help detox your home and while some ideas may be easier to implement than others, they all offer tips and suggestions that you can use in one form or another.
- No shoes in the house.
- Place floor mats vertically by your entryways to wipe off shoes.
- Keep the air clean in your home by opening windows and doors as much as possible and use green plants as natural air detoxifiers. Use flowers or herbs for fragrances in your rooms rather than air fresheners and have your air ducts and vents cleaned with nontoxic cleaners. Use soy base or beeswax candles instead of scented ones.
- Switch from the standard household cleaning products to cleaner and greener ones, such as organic products. Some other top basic cleaning ingredients include baking soda, washing soap, distilled white vinegar; vegetable based liquid soaps and tea tree oil.
- Replace skin and personal care products with less toxic and chemical free options. Learn how to identify toxins in deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, hair products, nail polish and perfumes.
- Use plastics without Bisphenol A (BPA) which is linked to cancer. Avoid plastic shower curtains, plastic food packaging, and using plastic containers to microwave foods. Stay away from children’s toys marked with a “3” or “PVC.”
- Avoid non stick pans, pots, bakeware and utensils, as Teflon contains perfluorinated chemicals which have been linked to cancer and developmental problems.
- Keep house dust to a minimum by mopping all surfaces once a week and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter for your carpets.
- Avoid excess moisture as it encourages the growth of mold and mildew.
- Get a shower filter to keep toxins from becoming airborne.
- Get a water filter as more than 700 chemicals have been identified in drinking water.
- Avoid stain-guarded clothing, furniture and carpets due the presence of PFC’s.
- Be conscious of toxins in carpeting, especially in products made from synthetic materials. It is better to use natural fibers and replace carpeting with hardwood floors or tile and use nontoxic gules, adhesives, stains or sealers for installation.
- Seal with a non toxic sealer and replace particle board walls, floors or cabinets which often contain formaldehyde. Other items to avoid are plywood, fiberglass, fiberboard and paneling.
- Avoid harmful pet-care products and avoid toxic pest control.
- Replace toxic lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides with less harmful natural ones.
- Tell the dry cleaner not to use the plastic wrap or remove it as soon as possible. The plastic traps the dry cleaning chemicals on clothes and in your closet.
- Use low VOC, low odor latex paints. Open windows to properly ventilate after painting indoors.
- Have your house checked for carbon monoxide leaks commonly found in leaking gas stoves, gas fireplaces, furnaces, chimneys, and gas water heaters.
- Check Radon levels in poorly ventilated basements that have cracked walls and or floors. Radon has been linked to lung cancer.
Obviously, no one expects you to do all of these 20 steps, but knowing what to look for and what you can do to simply reduce the toxins you use each day can be a big step to a healthier home and family.