Many of the household products that we keep in our homes contain ingredients linked to, or are suspected to cause cancer. Some are also suspected to cause allergies, asthma and other health related problems. It is now easy to replace these potentially toxic products with nontoxic options and save a few bucks while doing so. Here is a list of some of the top offenders, and what you can replace them with.
1. Air fresheners:
Sweet-smelling air often comes with napthelene and formaldehyde, both known carcinogens, as well as a host of other toxic chemicals.
For a fresh scent, start by removing the odor’s source rather than trying to mask it. If something still stinks, try zeolite, baking soda, or natural fragrances from essential oils.
2. Art and craft materials:
Common art supplies may contain harmful ingredients. For a full list of specific products to avoid by brand, see the items prohibited for use in California schools by the California EPA: Art Hazards List . To guard against exposure to carcinogenic and/or highly toxic ingredients:
- Watch out for lead and other heavy metals in paints, glazes, and enamels. Use vegetable-based dyes and paints instead.
- Use water-based glues, paints, and markers and avoid hazardous solvents like rubber cement, paint thinners, and solvent-based markers.
3. Automotive supplies:
Antifreeze and brake fluids that contain ethylene glycol are highly toxic, and windshield wiper fluid is extremely poisonous. As little as 2 tablespoons can be deadly to a child.
If you need to use automotive supplies, keep them locked away and dispose of remnants or containers at your local hazardous waste facility.
4. Dry cleaning:
Conventional dry cleaners use tons of chemicals, such as perchloroethylene (tetrachloroethylene), naphthalene, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, all of which are carcinogenic. These chemical fumes can stick around on your clothes for days.
If your garments require a trip to the cleaners, ask for the wet-cleaning option at the cleaners, and seek dry cleaners that use liquid C02 or citrus juice cleaners.
5. Flea, tick, and lice control:
Avoid lindane-based pesticides, these have caused seizures and death.
Visit your local pet store for a natural products.
6. Paints and varnishes:
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in paints are known human carcinogens. In addition, the VOCs in paint are released into the air and may continue to off-gas at low levels for years after application.
Always choose low- or no-VOC finishes, Benjamin Moore has a line of all natural paints called Natura.
When you smell mothballs, you are essentially inhaling insecticide. Mothballs are nearly 100 percent naphthalene, a carcinogen, or paradichlorobenzene, a toxin.
Many people use cedar to combat moths, but it is not effective against adult moths.
8. Cleaning products:
Mold and mildew cleaners can be a nasty bunch, often containing formaldehyde. Try a natural approach to killing mold and mildew by using vinegar and tea tree oil.
Carpet and upholstery cleaners are designed to strip stains and dirt from heavy textiles by using noxious substances. The worst of the ingredients is perchloroethylene, a central nervous system toxicant and respiratory irritant.
Instead, try using a steam cleaner with water or a natural-based cleaner.
Furniture polishes achieve a shine with nitrobenzene, a reproductive toxin and central nervous system toxin that can be absorbed through the skin. Look for an all-natural polish, or make your own using 1/8 cup olive oil or other vegetable oil mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon vodka.