At BonVie we talk a lot
about how the foods we ingest can either help or hurt our physical and mental
health. With the excessive marketing and consumption of processed foods and
sugars in our diets today, we do need to pay attention to eating healthy.
But how about some of the
other toxic elements that touch our lives daily: items in our home. You see
it’s not just the food industry that has us reevaluating the way we live, it is
also the items that we choose to have in our homes. From your couch to your
dish towels, and your household cleaners to your flooring, there are many everyday
household items that can be detrimental to our health. Many of these convenience
items contain harmful chemicals
that can have a detrimental effect on our
health if exposed for prolonged periods of time. And just like with food, to
avoid these harmful substances we must educate ourselves so as to choose the
healthiest home products. Let’s take a look at some of the items in your home
that might be making you sick:
This is a common one. When we need to store our leftovers or other food items, we often turn to those convenient plastic food containers that just snap shut and make our lives a whole lot easier! (although where DO those matching lids disappear to!?) One of the most harmful substances are phthalates which act as an endocrine-disrupting chemical. Phthalates
are commonly used in products to increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. When the plastic starts to break down over time, these chemicals leak into the foods that you store in these containers. As you eat that food, those chemicals make their way into your body. Once in your body, phthalates can cause eye irritation, nausea, vestibular dysfunction, and even reproductive harm, to name a few. Scary right?!
And we also know how damaging plastics are for the environment.
The healthy alternative is to use glass over plastic. There are so many great choices now for convenience-sized glass containers which provide for a safe alternative to plastics - and do not contain these harmful chemicals.
Although nonstick pans
make life (and clean up) easier when cooking dishes such as omelets and
pancakes these actually can be very harmful to our bodies. Those pans serve to
keep our foods from sticking because most nonstick pans contain traces of a
chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
which is a man-made chemical that
acts as a water and oil repellant contributing to the non-stick coating found
on most pans. This is another chemical that we really do not want finding its
way into our bodies. PFOA has been linked to cancer in studies that have harmed people who were exposed to it for long periods of time, .
Even though PFOA in the nonstick coating that makes our breakfast routine a
little easier, it is not worth the health risks over time. Instead choose some
other option, like stainless steel and cast iron cookware with natural nonstick
sprays and oils. Or at the least go with a great nonstick pan that is PFOA free. Check them
out in your local kitchen or department store or on-line for some choices that
will work for you, and your health.
Yes, even those little Glade Plugins and scented candles that make our homes smell wonderful can be harmful to our bodies. Many of these are composed of or include synthetic chemicals that can affect your health. Pretty much everything that we breathe in ends up in our bloodstream. That exotic “Hawaiian Tropical Breeze” scented wall plugin contains a chemical called benzene that can cause all kinds of health problem. Most people don’t know this, but when burned, benzene emits toxins that are harmful to our bodies. Many of these air fresheners contain phthalates which have been known to cause reproductive issues.
But this doesn’t mean that our homes can’t smell like a fresh ocean breeze and rainbows. There are healthy and great-smelling alternatives such as candles made with soy, essential oils and also natural air fresheners. Visit your local farmer's market, like the one here in Santa Monica, where you will find bouquets of flowers that will make your home smell just like a garden.
all of us enjoy a good comfy sofa because, well, we all need something to sit
on! Since the days of Freud the sofa has been all about creating a comfortable
space. While the objective here might not be to dive into the deep recesses of
your mind, we still want a sofa to maximize relaxation – but at the same time
does not sacrifice your health.
all upholstered furniture contains industrial flame retardant chemicals which
are extremely harmful to our bodies. Although these chemicals were intended for
good reason - so that your furniture does not catch on fire, these chemicals are harmful to our systems. These toxins easily
make their way from the fabric into the air or onto our skin, and eventually
into our bodies. Finding furniture without harsh chemicals is a challenge but good news is on the horizon. Furniture inundated with chemical fire retardants
to be regulated after research showed the dangerous effects of them in the mid
2000s. Today there is an abundance of toxic free upholstered furniture with no
fire retardants or harsh chemicals.
example of a safe sofa fillings, you could choose certified
chemical free foam or natural latex. And solid wood pieces finished
with linseed oil and low VOC finishes. Go online
and research companies committed to making safe furniture for your home.
This is not good news for many of us because we like that “fuzzy” warm feeling under our feet but what those fibers are made from can make carpet one of the most harmful objects in our homes. Just like sofas and other home items, most manufacturers make carpets sturdy and flame resistant - and soak them in numerous chemicals to do that. And while the intention is good – to prevent them from catching on fire and to help them maintain their structure, these chemicals have harmful effects on our bodies. The two main chemicals found in carpeting are formaldehyde and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Formaldehyde is a preservative that helps with maintaining the structure of the carpet. Fromaldhyde does a great job preserving dead bodies – but not so much when found in our homes. Polybrominated diphenyl ether is a flame-retardant chemical that is designed to repel flames in the event of a house fire. Both chemicals were designed with good intention, but with barefoot exposure and particularly for crawling and playing kids on our carpets they can be toxic to our bodies.
The safest alternative that still gives comfort and lovely aesthetic is wool carpet and rugs. Not only are they good for our bodies but by their very nature, wool carpets and rugs are good for the indoor environment
. That's because wool, unlike synthetic fibers, rapidly absorbs common contaminants in indoor air like formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide. Not only does wool keep the air free of many harmful pollutants, it will not re-emit them, even when heated. In fact, it has been estimated that wool carpets can continually purify indoor air for up to 30 years!
This is a no-brainer. The
chemicals in cleaners, from your toilet bowl cleaner to your glass cleaner contain
many harmful chemicals that wreak havoc on our systems. Although these cleaners
are good at what they do, all you have to do is read the fine print on the
label to be warned of the dangers of improper handling such as burns,
reproductive issues, and poisoning. Although we do not intentionally ingest
these chemicals, they find their way into the air, into our lungs, and
eventually into our bloodstreams. We really don’t want “Drano” running through
our veins, right?
Today we have many
choices of effective cleaners free from harmful chemicals to keep our homes fresh. Healthy and safe alternatives are available
pretty much everywhere with an increasing number of companies making a
commitment to making their products safe and clean.
We all want a nontoxic environment that we can come home to and where our children and pets can be chemical free. With real risks such as potential for reproductive issues and cancer associated with these chemicals, it is worth the effort to make our homes as toxic free as possible.
Think about throwing out those nasty cleaners and choosing kitchen cookware and carpets and furniture that are chemical free. Every little change counts towards a healthier home environment.