One expert offers tips for consumers who want to avoid exposure to everyday household toxins and chemicals.
Abridged article. Read Unabridged article by Christina Gillham from Newsweek
1. Filter Your Water.
A simple water filter can capture a lot of pollutants. Some cities’ water supplies can contain trace amounts of arsenic, lead, perchlorate and/or atrazine, a pesticide that may cause cardiovascular and reproductive problems, and possibly cancer.
2. Know What’s in Your Grooming Products.
Shampoos, lotions and makeup can contain a number of toxins like parabens and phthalates, which have been identified as hormone disruptors and may be linked to certain cancers. When shopping for cosmetics and personal-care products, read the ingredients labels-avoid anything that includes the words “paraben” (often used as a suffix, as in methylparaben) or “phthalate” (listed as dibutyl and diethylhexyl or just “fragrance”).
3. Don’t Eat Microwave Popcorn.
The inside of a microwave popcorn bag is usually coated with a perfluorinated chemical (PFC) called a fluorotelomer that can break down to form perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Designed to prevent oil from seeping through the bag, PFOA can migrate into the food when heated. It has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals and preliminary epidemiological studies suggest that a pregnant woman’s exposure to PFOA may reduce her baby’s birth weight.
4. Don’t Get Stain-Protection Treatment.
This is an extra you can add to new furniture, shoes or clothes, but Baker says you should avoid this option because these treatments usually contain perfluorinated chemicals
5. Limit Use of Canned Food and Plastic Containers.
Most canned goods are coated with a resin lining derived from Bisphenol-A (BPA), which recently made headlines because of its presence in the plastic used in some baby bottles. A component of polycarbonate plastic, BPA may be linked to certain cancers, fertility and behavioral problems in children.
6. Use PBDE-Free Electronics.
The chemical, most commonly found in TVs and computer monitors, is stirred into the equipment’s plastic and can heat up over time, causing the material to break away and settle into the dust. Many manufactures have stopped using PBDEs for electronics, but not all have.
7. Don’t Use Paint Made With Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).
VOCs include a variety of chemicals and are found in some household products like paint and paint strippers. They are emitted as gases and have been associated with allergies, breathing problems and asthma, and are suspected to cause cancer, according to the EPA. Fortunately, low-VOC and no-VOC paints are readily available.
8. Patronize a Perc-Free Dry Cleaner.
Perchloroethylene (perc) is also a VOC and is most commonly used in dry cleaning. The EPA identifies perc as a known human toxin and “a precursor to ground-level ozone (smog).” It usually enters the body through inhalation and remains stored in fat tissue.
9. Dust and Vacuum Weekly.
Baker says that toxins like PBDE can settle into the dust in your house, so to be extra safe, it’s best to keep your house clean through regular dusting and vacuuming.