The TV you watch. The receipt you take from the cashier. The clothes you wear. In our modern world, nearly everything we touch and interact with contains some kind of chemical.
Researchers estimate that we actually encounter nearly one million chemicals every single day. While many of them are simply unavoidable and relatively harmless, we can do a lot to ensure that the homes in which we live are stripped of the chemicals we know are major dangers. Here’s where to check first.
1. Your Closet
The suspect? Perchloroethylene
Perchloroethylene or “perc” is a chemical solvent frequently used by dry cleaners and has been linked to cancer. Many businesses are ceasing their use of perc, but find a wet cleaner (they only use water) instead. Not an option? Be sure to air out your dry-cleaned clothes until the scent is gone before bringing them into your closet.
2. Your Refrigerator
The suspects? Dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Dioxins and PCBs are often found in high concentration in the fatty areas of the meat we store in our fridges, as well as dairy products with high fat content. Both toxic chemicals may cause cancer and impaired hormone functioning. Avoid them by selecting lean meats and trimming off excess animal fat before consumption.
3. Your Furniture
The suspect? Flame retardant
Flame retardants are essentially dangerous chemicals that have been connected to thyroid and female fertility problems. Anything that is made of polyurethane foam – most commonly furniture – contains them. Clean your home regularly and dust often, as flame retardants bind to dust.
4. Your Walls
The suspect? Lead
Lead poisoning has been tied to memory issues and high blood pressure, and the main cause is lead paint. While it was banned in 1978, some homes do still have lead paint on their walls. It only really becomes an issue when the paint chips or cracks, but have an EPA-certified professional test it just to be safe, if your home is older.
5. Your Faucet
The suspect? Lead
Lead pipes and solder were banned in 1986, but if your home was built prior to that date, have the city test your tap water. If it turns out that your water has traces of lead, consider investing in a water filter or make sure you run your faucet for a few minutes before every use to get rid of the highest lead concentrations
(1) Renter, Elizabeth. Daily Toxin Intake: Just How Many Toxins Are You Accumulating? Natural Society.
(2) What is Tetrachlorethylene (Perchloroethylene)? The American Cancer Society.
(3) What are the Human Health Effects of PCB’s? Clearwater.
(4) Main, Emily. The 12 Most Toxic Chemicals in Your Home. Prevention.
(5) Protect Your Family from Exposures to Lead. Epa.gov.