Toxins In The Home and How They Affect Your Health

By: Sapna Fliedner MSN, HHC

The average home today contains more than 60 environmental toxins that negatively affect your health and the health of your family.   Studies show that due to the rise in synthetically manufactured products used in the home, the rate of birth defects, behavioral problems and serious illness is on the rise.

young housewife wearing protection mask, holding cleaning supplies against white background
young housewife wearing protection mask, holding cleaning supplies against white background

According to the EPA, the air in your home is 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside. According to Dr. Ted Myatt, senior scientist at the consulting firm Environmental Health and Engineering, “The air in your house contains pollen, mold and ozone that leaks in from outdoors, as well as pet dander and pollutants from household cleaning products.”

Consumer products that contain harmful chemicals are believed to cause physical illness and behavioral disorders in children such as ADHD/ADD. The accumulation of toxins in the body is linked to degenerative diseases, cancer, allergic reactions and autism. Children are more susceptible as they play on the floor and put everything in their mouths. These toxins are dangerous because they are small enough to become lodged in the lungs. From there, they can travel through the blood to any vital organ. Children are more at risk as their brains and organs are still developing.

Different Toxins In The Home And The Problems They Can Cause

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs). These are flame retardant chemicals found in many household items such as foam pillows and the foam stuffing in furniture. It is also found in sleepwear and flame retardant cribs. I wonder if a baby lying in a pile of chemicals has anything to do with SIDS? PBDEs also cause liver damage and thyroid problems.

BLEACH: Bleach has been shown to cause reproductive problems in men and behavioral problems in children.

CARPET CLEANING PRODUCTS: Many types of carpet cleaner are extremely toxic to children and can cause cancer and liver damage.

TOILET BOWL CLEANERS: Some toilet cleaners contain chlorine and hydrochloric acid, which are dangerous when inhaled.

CHLORINE: You can inhale chlorine gases while taking a hot shower. We have attatched a simple shower filter that takes out most of the chlorine.

FORMALDEHYDE,  PHENOL, BENZENE, TOLUENE: These chemicals which are found in cosmetics, more commonly nail polish, beverages, fabrics (wallpapers) and common household cleaners, cause dizziness, insomnia, headaches, rashes, cancer and damage to the immune system.

RADON: Radon is a natural radioactive gas. Radon seeps through cracks in the basement, the surrounding foundation and well water. It is the 2nd leading cause of cancer in the United States.

LEAD: Lead is found in older paints, old plumbing and the soil near busy roads. It causes kidney and neurological damage, high blood pressure, disrupted cell production and reproductive problems.

CARBON DIOXIDE: This is found in furnaces that burn propane, butane or oil. It can cause cancer.

VINYL CHLORIDE: This is what gives  a car the  “new car smell”. Found in the plastic interior of new cars, this chemical can cause liver damage.

HYDROFLUORIC ACID: Commonly found in household rust removers, it can cause intense pain if it comes into contact with the skin.

FREON: Freon is what keeps refrigerators and air conditioning units cold. According to Dr. Hulda Clark, Freon was found in the cancerous internal organs of cancer patients. She suggests an alternative refrigerant called Forane that is easier for the body to handle.

PHTHALATES: These chemicals are used in nail polish, toys, adhesives, paint and PVC plastics. These are clear liquids used as plasticizers; they make fragrances last longer and make things bend. They are found in everything from shower curtains to wall coverings to food storage containers to teething rings. They are toxic to the reproductive system and can cause cancer.

BENZOPYRENES: These are found in vehicle exhaust fumes, tobacco, burnt food and wood smoke. They are also carcinogenic. In 2001, the National Cancer Institiute found high levels of benzopyrenes in steak, hamburgers, burnt toast, and chicken that were grilled and well-done. I once heard a story of a young woman who was in her 40’s, and in excellent shape who ran everyday. She had 2 small children. She ate all of her food grilled with minimum fat. She was diagnosed with cancer and within 6 months died. Her doctor stated she had high levels of benzopyrenes in her system due to all of the grilling and charring of foods.

TEFLON: The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that perfluorooctanoic acid–PFOA (a chemical produced to make Teflon) is carcinogenic and causes hypothyroidism. It is a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon coatings in cookware. Environmental Groups explain that PFOA does not break down and seems to last in the environment forever. When the blood of several hundred children was studied in 2001, 96% of the blood samples contained PFOA.

Many of these toxins come from household cleaning products. In response to this, many companies offer “green” cleaning products, which advertise themselves as being safe for humans and the environment. However, even these green cleaners are not necessarily healthier either. According to Alexandra Gorman Scranton, director of science and research for Women’s Voices for the Environment, the reason is that there is inadequate federal regulation when it comes to manufacturing. They can be marketed as green and still contain toxic chemicals. You need to pay special attention to the ingredients.

How To Combat Air Pollutants In The Home

It is difficult to keep pollutants out of the house. Many of them are naturally occurring toxins such as mold and dust particles. However, there are some things you can do to minimize their build-up.

1. Clean the inside air by opening windows and letting the air from outside dilute the indoor air. We do this everyday. Even in the winter, we open the windows for 10 minutes every morning. They say that oxygen levels are at their lowest and carbon dioxide at it’s highest in bedrooms in the morning. Ten minutes is enough time without getting the whole house cold.

2. Dust absorbs toxins, so vacuum slowly to rid your home of dust. Empty the vacuum bag outside.

3. If you have blankets or boxes that have been in storage for a long time, make sure to wipe them down outside before using them.

4. Check and clean air filters every few months to prevent toxins such as mold from being circulated through your home. You should also leave the bathroom fan on for 15 minutes after a bath or shower to reduce the chance of mold build-up.

5. To really limit home pollutants, remove all toxic products from the home. This includes window cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, carpet cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, laundry detergents, cosmetics, etc. (Unless you want your family swimming in a toxic chemical soup.) Purchase organically made products with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like Seventh Generation, Earth Choice or Earth Friendly. Or better yet, make your own using water, vinegar, essential oils and baking soda.

6. Throw out Teflon and Aluminum cookware and use stainless steel, glass (pyrex) or cast iron.

7. Avoid clothing and furniture that contain stain resistant chemicals, formaldehyde, polyurethane.

8. You can also cut down on toxins in your home by eating organic food.

9. Projects like installing new carpet and painting walls can release chemicals that pollute indoor air.  Some houseplants act as efficient purifiers. For the best results, put as many plants as you can care for in the rooms you use most, says environmental scientist Dr. Bill Wolverton.  You’ll want at least two plants (in 10- to 12-inch pots) per 100 square feet of space; Here are a few good ones: Spider plant (removes formaldehyde and xylene), Ficus (removes benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene), Peace Lily ( removes ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene), Snake plant / Mother- In-Laws- Tongue (removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene).

From the time we are conceived, we are bombarded by chemicals in the womb. Researchers have found 265 different chemicals in the umbilical cords of babies. Then we feed them artificial formula, which has more chemicals, or the chemicals are found in breast milk. We then put on synthetic diapers with more chemicals on them. We then vaccinate them which is loaded with chemicals. Then we put them in flame retardant sleepwear. Then we put them to sleep on a crib mattress loaded with more PBDE’s (Flame Retardant), then we feed them non-organic food which is loaded with pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides, drink water that has chlorine, fluoride, lead, arsenic, and rocket fuel in it. Bathe them in body wash and shampoos that contain Sodium Laural Sulfate and Phalates to name a few, all the while being inside a home loaded with toxic air. Then we fertilize our lawns and spray them with cancer causing chemicals and put them on it to run and crawl……and this is all before the age of one. Is it any wonder why our children are dying before us?



10 Healthy Secrets You Haven’t Tried Yet — Kimberley Hiss;

Children and Toxic Chemicals in the Home — Brenda Templin;

Toss Toxins From Your Home;

Unsafe Home Environments: How unseen toxins in your home can affect your family’s health — Dani Veracity;

Toxins In Your Home — Dan Vickers;

The Invisible Toxins In Your Living Room — Winnie Yu;

The 10 Most Dangerous Toxins in Your House — Claude Morgan;

Toxins in Your Home;

The Truth About Green Cleaners — Winnie Yu;

Is the Air in Your Home Making You Sick? — Sarah Mahoney;

How to Limit Your Baby’s Exposure to Toxins in the Home — David T. Tayloe;

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