5 Sources of Chemical Hazards in Your Home
Home is the last place you’d expect to face dangers to your health. But every year, thousands of people visit the emergency room due to accidents in the home.
The U.S. Poison Control Centers reported that in 2018, an incident of poison exposure was reported every 15 seconds. Most of them were related to cosmetics and personal care products, while household cleaning substances were the second largest cause. It’s important to know where these hazards are located and how you can minimize your risk of exposure.
Consider the following five sources to make your home a safer environment.
The three main chemicals to watch out for in the bathroom are phthalates, parabens, and para-dichlorobenzene. They’re most commonly found in moisturizers, toothpaste, and aerosols respectively. These toxins are linked to several health problems and para-dichlorobenzene is a known carcinogen.
Avoiding them starts with carefully reading product labels to identify whether they contain these chemicals. Opting for natural alternatives such as green cleaning products can help to reduce your exposure.
You’re probably familiar with chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in hard plastics such as lunchbox containers. BPA is linked to certain cancers as well as heart disease. It can leak into your food when microwaved, so it’s best to warm up meals on something else like a ceramic plate.
Be sure to avoid leaded dishware, as lead is linked to a myriad of health issues including developmental problems as well as vomiting and nausea. Certain foods can also contain it, in addition to mercury. The latter is most prevalent in dark canned tuna. That said, lead can lurk in unexpected places, so it pays to know where.
If you use dry cleaning services, you might want to consider doing laundry at home instead. This is because around 85% of dry cleaners in the U.S. use perchloroethylene (perc). The chemical is designed to treat delicate fabrics, but studies have shown that inhaling high amounts of perc can lead to kidney damage and cognitive decline among other issues.
When dry cleaners are the only option, be sure to air out your clothes before putting them into the closet. Another potential source of chemicals is your mattress, as it may contain harmful flame retardants.
Walls and Floors
Carpets and certain types of wall paint are major sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This is a large group of chemicals that can cause many health problems through long-term exposure, including nervous system damage and nausea. Opt for low or non-VOC paints and improve the ventilation in your home by opening windows.
There are some products in your home that may contain more chemicals. This includes medications, hygiene products, and detergents. When finding natural alternatives isn’t an option, your best bet is to simply keep these items away from children and pets.
Don’t forget about weed killers, pool chemicals, and other more obvious sources. Taking steps to reduce your exposure to these chemicals will go a long way in making your home a safer place.