You do everything you can to make a safe living environment for you and your family. You keep the air clean by using a HEPA filter vacuum and replacing your HVAC filters on time. You filter drinking water, keep sharp objects away from children, test your smoke detectors, and make sure all medications are in a secure location. But did you know that there may be harmful chemicals in your home that are hidden in plain sight? Over time, these chemicals can affect the health of you and your family.
Getting Rid of Harmful Chemicals in Your Home
Keeping harmful chemicals out of your home isn’t difficult once you are familiar with products that contain them. Chemicals could be negatively impacting your family’s health. Here are three that you should be on the lookout for.
1. Phthalates are Harmful Chemicals in Your Home
Phthalates are the chemicals used to give plastics like vinyl and PVC their flexibility. When PVC is worn down or heated, it leaches phthalates into your food or drink. These chemicals disrupt the human endocrine system. Exposure to phthalates in young girls has been directly linked to early puberty onset, which indicates a high-risk factor for developing breast cancer later in life.
Phthalates are also commonly found in detergents and personal care products to help them maintain their scent. It’s often labeled on bottles as “fragrance.” When these products are used, the phthalates are absorbed into the skin and body. To minimize exposure to phthalates, avoid microwaving plastic containers. Always store extra food in metal or glass containers. Don’t use vinyl shower curtains, vinyl flooring, PVC pipes, and products that contain “fragrance.”
2. Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A (also known as simply BPA) is another disrupter of the endocrine system. It’s found predominantly in #7 plastics. These are reusable polycarbonate beverage and food containers, including baby bottles. BPA is also found in beverage and food can liners, in PVC, and on money and receipts. It’s one of the most harmful chemicals in your home because research has linked it directly to heart disease, breast cancer, and miscarriage.
To minimize exposure to BPA, never heat or microwave plastic containers with food in them. Always store your food in metal or glass containers. Completely avoid all canned foods (unless the packaging specifically says “BPA-free”). Instead, buy frozen, fresh, and bulk foods. If you use reusable water bottles, make sure they are also marked as “BPA-free.” Also, always wash your hands thoroughly after handling money or receipts.
Perfluorochemicals (also known as PFCs) are pollutants that are found in stain-resistant upholstery and clothing, fast food wrappers, cooking pans, inside microwave popcorn bags, and inside pet food bags. In fact, Stainmaster, Scotchgard, Teflon, and Gore-Tex are all common PFC pollutants. They’ve been directly tied to fluctuating thyroid levels, low birth weight in babies, poor immune function, and liver inflammation.
To reduce your exposure to PFCs, skip the stain-resisting treatments on carpeting and furniture. Don’t purchase or wear clothes that are labeled as water or stain-resistant. Stay away from nonstick pans. Pop your popcorn on the stove and buy personal care products without “perfluoro” or “PTFE” on the label.