Four Hidden Toxins in the Home
It's no secret that certain household items are potentially toxic. While most people know to avoid fumes from bleach and other common cleaners, did you know that other seemingly harmless everyday items around the home can negatively affect your health?
Here are four hidden toxins to look out for:
- Scented Candles and Air Fresheners
Scented candles and air fresheners can make your home smell good and feel cozy. But these common household items may do more harm than good. Scented candles are made with paraffin wax, which releases unhealthy chemicals when burned. Similarly, some scented air fresheners are made with trace amounts of formaldehyde. Although occasional exposure has limited harmful effects, frequent use can lead to aliments such as allergies, asthma and even cancer. Avoid these potential health risks altogether by burning unscented soy or beeswax candles instead.
- Non-stick Pots and Pans
Non-stick cookware and bakeware have become a must-have for most homes. They save you hours of scraping and washing, but did you know that these pots and pans have the potential to be harmful, which outweighs their usefulness. Non-stick cookware is coated with a man-made chemical known as Teflon or polytetrafluoroethylene. Although Teflon is usually harmless, when overheated, this coating starts to disintegrate, releasing toxic gases and particles into the air. Although a risk only when this cookware is subjected to extreme temperatures, exposure to Teflon fumes can cause polymer fume fever — resulting in a headache, fever and chills. How can you keep your non-stick cookware safe? Never expose it to temperatures higher than 500° and replace older pans that have scratches or chips.
- Old or Chipping Paint
Not only is chipping or worn looking paint an eyesore — it can also make you sick. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if your house was built before 1978, there's most likely lead-based paint somewhere in your home. In fact, old paint is the leading cause of lead poisoning, which can lead to a variety of negative health conditions — especially in children. Luckily, older paint causes little harm if kept in excellent condition. If you notice your paint starting to chip or peel, make sure to replace it immediately to eliminate the potential threat of lead poisoning.
Despite their decrease in popularity, mothballs have been a common solution to get rid of clothing moths for decades. To avoid these pesky creatures chewing holes in clothing, people would put out mothballs to alleviate the problem. However, mothballs are made with active ingredients like naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene that can have negative side effects for both humans and animals. Fumes from these chemicals can cause nausea, headaches and difficulty breathing. In addition, exposure to these fumes may cause cancer in household pets. If you still feel that mothballs are necessary, only use them in sealed containers, and wash any clothing that's been exposed to these chemicals before you wear them.
By educating yourself and being selective about the products you bring into your home, these hidden toxics can easily be avoided — saving you and your family from unwanted negative effects.