Regular Contributor Emily Cardel (pictured) looks at the products that you have bought (or inherited when you bought your house) and the chemical dangers they often contain.
For part one of this two article feature, please click here.
When you take a moment to consider how you can improve your health, what comes to mind?
Most likely, your immediate thoughts gravitate towards your nutrition and exercise habits.
But what about the overall health of your home?
Here are some quick, eye-opening ways to keep the rooms that make up your home clean and healthy, courtesy of EWG’s Healthy Living Checklist! If your house “passes” with flying colors, you’ll know where you stand. If your “to do” list is long, you’ll know exactly where to dig in.
Cook with cast iron, stainless steel or glass instead of non-stick cookware. Non-stick cookware release toxic fumes when overheated.
Use glass instead of plastic. And whatever you do, never microwave food in plastic containers. If you use plastic, go for BPA-free.
Filter your tap water. Check out EWG’s online tap water quality base for local contaminants. This will help you purchase the right filter for the removal of the contaminants.
Do not re use plastic water bottles. Opt for a reusable stainless steel bottle instead.
Use iodized salt iodine is necessary to maintain healthy thyroid function.
Eat organic produce when you can. Check out EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to be sure you buy organic when pesticide residues are at their highest.
Cook with fresh or frozen whenever you can. Most canned foods are lined with BPA, a toxic chemical that makes its way into the food.
Do not use air fresheners. They contain a ton of toxic chemicals, which therefore contaminate the air you breathe.
Since we do not know what is in “fragrance”, choose fragrance-free when it comes to your personal-care products.
Cut back on cosmetics. Skipping out on hair spray and body spray is less toxic– and cheaper!
Choose green-certified products whenever possible.
Use products that list all of their ingredients. Most don’t, but they should. You have a right to know. Support the companies that care about what they put into their products.
Most homes can be safely cleaned with a few nontoxic ingredients: vinegar (it’s anti-bacterial), baking soda, water, a HEPA vacuum, microfiber mops and cloths – and some elbow grease!
Skip laundry products you don’t need, like dryer sheets, fabric softener, and chlorine bleach.
All Around the House
If your home was built before 1978, it most likely contains lead paint. When repainting, use a wet sanding technique to reduce dust, choose low VOC paints and always paint with the windows open for good ventilation. Keep kids away from rehab dust and loose chips.
Do not use compact fluorescent light bulbs! They contain mercury and should be handled and disposed of with care.
Do you have a playground set, picnic table or a wood deck? Those made before 2005 likely contain arsenic. Test to confirm and either replace with safer wood or reduce your exposure by sealing it, replacing high-use areas and washing hands after touching, especially before eating.
The chemicals and materials used to make the carpets and pads beneath them, including plastics, wool that’s laden with fungicides, synthetic rubber that may contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates, toxic dyes, and chemicals that are meant to repel flame, water, and stains.
The materials used in the carpet installation process, including glues and other adhesives
that contain formaldehyde and a range of VOCs that off-gas into the home environment.
When buying new carpets look at brands such as Earth Weave, Nature’s Carpet and
For more tips, make sure to check out EWG’s Healthy Home Guide.
Get an air purifier. After all, the first step to good health is to make sure you breathe in clean air.
Switch to soy candles. Scented candles may smell nice, but they emit potentially hazardous chemicals. Vegetable-based options such as 100 percent soy candles don’t produce those harmful chemicals, so opt for those instead.
Control your light. Light pollution significantly interferes with our sleep. Block out as much light as you can to ensure you get as much sleep as you can.
Clean out your pantry. A study from Cornell University found that people who kept cereal and soda on their countertops were more unhealthy than people who left out fruit instead.
Get rid of dust. According to the American Lung Association, chronic exposure of dust mites can cause allergies and asthma. So, make sure to vacuum frequently, change your bedding and pillow cases often (once a week or once every two weeks), and reduce the humidity in your house.