Even though we all take good care of what we bring inside our home, many toxic household chemicals are present in everyday items of our home. While cleaning agents and pesticides are some of the most common, here you’ll find some surprisingly dangerous household toxins that can be hidden in your living space.
I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you. -Joyce Meyer
Laundry Detergent Packets
Everybody uses them, but did you know they contain toxic substances? The concentrated liquid can be very harmful if ingested, and it can cause:
- Loss of consciousness
- Excessive vomiting
- Throat swelling
- Breathing difficulty
Children and pets are the ones who suffer most, since the colorful little packets can look very interesting to them. Store the packets safely, preferably on higher shelves or in closed containers.
Air fresheners make everything feel fresher, brighter, and cleaner… but that feeling hides an ugly truth behind it. Did you know that the regular use of sprays or diffusers can increase your risk of developing asthma by 30% to 50%?
Many of these common fresheners are also filled with Phthalates, which can cause reproductive problems, liver and kidney toxicity, and developmental problems. The majority of air fresheners also emit terpene, that later reacts naturally with ozone creating formaldehyde, which is proven to be a carcinogen.
Here’s the deal:
Don’t fully trust those “all-natural” or “unscented” labels. They can still contain these harmful chemicals.
How to reduce the use of Air Fresheners:
- Take the time and make your own natural air freshener, like potpourri
- Open the windows and let the fresh air naturally clear your home
- Take advantage of indoor plants and their ability to improve air quality
- Use fresh flowers to fill the house with natural scents
Most houseplants bring us many benefits, such as increased air quality, improvement in concentration and creativity, and even relieve some respiratory conditions. But beware that certain plants are highly toxic to humans and pets, and they can cause many problems, such as irritation, diarrhea, liver damage, and some can even be fatal if ingested, which is the case for plants such as Daffodil and Oleander.
This table by Den Garden shows us the toxicity to humans and pets from some common houseplants.
Vinyl (also known as PVC) is a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. It contains compounds such as phthalates and lead which can cause respiratory and liver damage, and can also interfere with the nervous systems and with child development.
The plastic is most commonly found around the house in plumbing supplies, flooring, shower curtains, and mats, but it can also be found in inflatable toys or even mattresses.
Many people love and need the benefits that humidifiers bring to a home, but what the majority of people don’t know is that the common gadget can be highly toxic if not properly maintained. Over time, humidifiers gather bacteria, microorganisms, minerals, and other common toxins and disperse them into the indoor air increasing respiratory problems, especially in people who suffer from allergies or asthma.
What to do:
Clean your humidifier frequently and consider getting a newer model if yours is already dated to avoid dispersion of harmful bacteria and toxic substances.
Radon is an odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that naturally occurs in soil. The toxin is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and of course, smokers are affected even more. The toxin can get into your house via cracks in the foundation, so it’s very important for everybody to do periodic home toxin testing, especially those who live on the ground floor, in the basement, or on the second floor of a home.
Get ahead of it:
You can purchase affordable short-term test kits to check the radon levels at your house. If it’s below 2.7 pCi/L, then it’s acceptable. If it’s higher, then try a long-term radon testing kit (which takes account weather variations and humidity levels) or get the help of a professional.
We all long for those late summer parties or those fun camping trips, but one thing that can be a big annoyance or can even ruin the night is bugs. While bug repellents can be an easy solution, most products contain DEET, which is known to increase health problems in humans. While there are studies that say that the compound may be safe in small quantities, it’s best to avoid it and go for safer and healthier alternatives.
What you can do:
- Use a botanical/natural bug repellent
- Make your own natural mosquito repellent. You can find some great DIY options here.
Did you know that about half of all US homes are contaminated with mold? The estimate is no surprise, though. Mold and mildew are more common in humid areas, but they can grow wherever there’s moisture - be it in a damp basement or even in a small pile of damp clothing.
The fungus can make you experience runny nose, red eyes, itchy skin rashes, constant sneezing, or even asthma symptoms and attacks. Some of the more severe types of mold can even cause pneumonia or trigger autoimmune illnesses.
How to avoid mold:
- Use proper ventilation
- Dry wet areas immediately
- Only store clothes if they are clean and dry, and avoid leaving gym clothes in bags for long periods of time
- Keep the bathroom fresh: leave the exhaust fan running for half an hour after showering, and leave a window open if possible
- Keep the gutters well maintained
- If there’s mold showing on the wall, it means there is mold within the wall too. Contact a professional to remove it, especially if the area is large.
Which one of these hidden household toxins surprised you the most? Let us know at our Facebook page or in the comments below, we would love to hear your opinion!