Most of us consider our home as our “safe space”. It’s where we come to relax and unwind after long days at work. It’s where we let our kids crawl around without having to be on high alert 24/7. However, what if our home isn’t as safe as we thought? Hidden dangers, in the form of toxins, could be lingering in your house without you being aware of them. These toxins can have significant health consequences that may be putting yourself and your family at risk.
I want to educate you so that you can spot these potential toxins and eliminate them. Making small changes over time can help you create a truly safe and healthy environment that the entire family can thrive in.
While the FDA deems many chemicals as “safe” at specific quantities, it doesn’t mean they don’t affect us. In fact, we are most likely exposed to higher levels of particular toxins because they aren’t just a component in one product, but they are most likely an ingredient in many of the typical products on the shelves.
Some other toxins cause harm to our health because our bodies are exposed to them every day, multiple times a day. Our bodies can’t eliminate these chemicals as optimally as we should be able to because our bodily systems and processes have to deal with a bigger toxic load than normal.
A large amount of chemicals that can affect anything from brain function to reproductive health to emotional health are hormone disruptors. Since it takes only a minute amount of hormones to cause changes in the body, it’s vital that we eliminate products that contain these. Here are some other health consequences from different kinds of toxins.
Disruption to Hormones
Negative Changes to the Gut Microbiome
Delayed Cognitive & Physical Development
Here are some ways that toxins could be hiding in your home so that you know what to look out for and avoid.
Imagine all the places and surfaces you wipe down in your home to ensure they are “clean”. Floors are scrubbed, counters are wiped and products are sprayed to clean up the mess. However, are you causing more harm by using harsh chemicals? Many household cleaners contain potentially harmful chemicals like phthalates, halogenated flame retardants, and alkylphenols that are considered endocrine disruptors.
These toxins linger around in your house, sticking to surfaces and getting into the air you breathe. A number of studies showed how some particular chemicals like harmful fragrance chemicals, phenols, flame retardants, and phthalates were found in at least 90% of dust samples, suggesting ubiquitous presence in indoor environments.
A great, non-toxic brand of cleaning products we use in our home is Branch Basics. We use this for everything from cleaning our countertops, to spraying veggies, to bath time with our baby. I am very mindful of not only what I put in my body, but also what I put on my body. As a mother, I can feel confident using these products even with having our little baby in the home.
The dust in your home could be trapping all those toxins and letting them linger in your house longer than needed. This chemical dust fills the air and exposes the household to those toxins that were inside your all-purpose spray or automatic fragrance sprayer. Dust is one of the main ways children are exposed to chemicals. Children play all around the house, crawling in corners and putting their hands on everything. Pretty much cleaning up the dust for you (However, I don’t advise this cleaning tactic). If you don’t dust regularly, I’d encourage you to start now. This is one easy way to rid your house of those extra harmful chemicals.
Flame retardants found particularly in children’s clothes and household furniture can have negative consequences that most of the time, don’t outweigh the benefits. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), the chemical used as flame retardants, can lead to thyroid disorders, decreased cognitive function, early-onset puberty, delayed physical and mental development, cancer and can negatively impact the immune system. When buying products or furniture, buy ones filled with cotton or wool instead of polyurethane foam. Also, be mindful of what you wash your clothes in as this has a significant impact on your health. If you use laundry detergent or dryer sheets with chemicals, this not only lingers on your clothes, but also your towels and your bed sheets. I highly recommend using wool dryer balls, using non toxic detergent and investing in a non-toxic mattress so that your body is able to rest, reset and detox while you sleep.
If you ever experienced water damage in your house or even have extra moisture in the air, mold could be building up without your knowledge. Mold exposure can increase your risk of asthma and rhinitis. Molds can also produce mycotoxins which can heighten your risk for immune deficiencies, cancers and other issues. Since mold can release tiny spores, they could contaminate the air around you and cause you to breathe in all those dangerous chemicals. Depending on the degree and severity of mold exposure, you may need to work with a functional medicine provider and mold remediation company to help you navigate your environment and next steps. Certain air purifiers like the molekule work at a molecular level to destroy pollutants including VOCs, bacteria, mold, viruses, and allergens.
Think about all the water you consume throughout the day. We should be consuming a large quantity of water whether it’s your main source of hydration, used in your tea/coffee, cooking, etc. Now think about when you use water to wash your hands and to take a shower/bath.
Since your body is made up of about 60% of water, it’s important we are getting adequate amounts. However, if we are putting that much water into our bodies, we need to ensure that it’s clean water. The sad reality is that most of the water supply is contaminated with chemicals or heavy metals. These pollutants depending on the levels, can range in side effects from neurological to endocrine-disrupting to cancer-causing side effects.
One great tool you can use to see the chemicals in your water supply’s zip code is the EWG Tap Water Database. You can search your town to see the specific chemicals in your water. From there, you can decide on the best water filtration system to reduce or eliminate them. The aquasana is a fantastic water filtration system that removes hundreds of chemicals for not only your drinking water, but also your shower/bath water.
To start your non-toxic living journey, here are a couple of things you can do to help reduce the toxins in your home.
Open your windows as often as possible, even if it’s only for 15 minutes per day
Make sure your home air system is clean and running effectively
Make your own DIY cleaners with vinegar/baking soda mixtures
Buy organic clothing to reduce chemical exposure especially for your kids
Dust your home weekly
If you are worried that you and/or your family are being exposed to toxins, causing adverse health effects, one way to check is by getting tested. Once you know the specific problem that is affecting your body, you will be better able to change your lifestyle behaviors and environment to avoid them.
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