Today, and every day, I think it’s fair to say that most of us are trying to keep ourselves and our loved ones as safe and healthy as we can. Right now that means staying home, but let’s take a few minutes to talk about how we can make sure that our home is filled with safe and healthy products.
Did you know that many everyday products are potentially dangerous, and can make us sick? They may contain chemicals and release toxins that time and time again are shown to be bad for humans. Our mission at Absolute Green is to make products that are safe for you, and safe for your pets, and today we’re sharing a list of common products that you might have in your home that could make you sick.
Perfumes and fragrances
Many mass-produced perfumes and fragrances contain phthalates, which are chemicals that help smells last longer. Some phthalates are believed to cause cancer, reproductive and fertility issues, respiratory problems and more. When you read a product’s label and it simply says “fragrance”: be wary. That’s a vague term that’s used to list phthalates and chemicals that manufacturers don’t want to disclose.
If you read the ingredients of many common household cleaning products, you’ll see a laundry list of nasty things that you probably don’t want in your home. Again, you’ll see “fragrance”, i.e. phthalates. But that’s just a start. Chlorine and ammonia are two common irritants that can cause respiratory problems. Perchloroethylene or “PERC” is common in upholstery cleaners and carpet cleaners is a neurotoxin and possible carcinogen.
Read the labels on all the cleaners you have in your home, and don’t believe products that simply claim to have natural ingredients. If you see something that you’re unsure of, look it up and be an educated consumer. And remember, Absolute Green’s line of cleaners is absolutely free of of dangerous chemicals and are safe for you and your family.
Many air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are airborne gas byproducts emitted by several household products. The most prevalent VOCs classified as toxic or hazardous in air fresheners are acetone, ethanol, d-limonene, pinene, and acetate. VOCs can cause several nasty health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and headaches, and damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system. As an alternative, consider using Absolute Green’s range of air fresheners, which are made from natural essential oils and contain no harmful ingredients.
We’d all like to make our homes smell great, but scented candles are probably not the best way to go. Most scented candles contain paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum, coal or shale oil. Paraffin wax releases toxic compounds into the air, including acetone, benzene, and toluene – all known carcinogens. Even a soy candle, which may have a safer wax, often contains fragrance to create the smell, and that fragrance could contain phthalates. So, if you’re trying to make your home smell better, try a safer, natural alternative like an essential oil diffuser – and only choose candles that are made from natural waxes with no fragrance.
Plastic food containers and bottles
The problems with plastics are numerable. Our oceans and landfills are absolutely filled with plastic garbage. Only 9% of plastics are recycled, despite what we might think when we’re dumping them in our recycling bin. Some research shows that we ingest the equivalent of a credit card’s worth of plastic via microplastics every week. Microplastics are small fragments of plastic that litter our oceans, food and drinking water – even bottled water.
But there’s more bad news about plastic, specifically about plastic food and drink containers. Some studies have shown that using some plastics as food and drink containers can also be harmful for our health. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges consumers to avoid #3, 6 and 7 plastics, which may have adverse hormonal effects. Other studies suggest that we should avoid produce wrapped in plastic, which contains phthalates - an endocrine disruptor. Any way you look at it: plastic is bad news and we’re all better off by choosing something else.
Fabric softeners contain fragrance, which we’ve already discussed. But many also contain quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats”, which help clothes feel soft. However, they are also believed to trigger an asthmatic reaction and potentially be harmful to your reproductive system. Be on the look out for labels that include distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, variants of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate or the terms “biodegradable fabric softening agents" and “cationic surfactant."
Instead, try adding white vinegar to rinse cycle, or buy some wool balls for your dryer, which are two natural ways to soften your clothes.
Non-stick (Teflon) pots and pans
Until 2015, Teflon was made using a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a suspected carcinogen and hormone disruptor. While these chemicals are said to be burned away during manufacturing, there are dangers of over-heating the pans and leaking these chemicals into your food. If you have Teflon pans that pre-date 2015, when this chemical started to be phased out, you may want to consider replacing them with ceramic or iron pans.
Some common furniture polishes contain dangerous chemicals, that are eye and skin irritants, carcinogens and flammable. Not to toot our own horn here, but our wood polishes are free from these chemical irritants.
Right now, especially, you may be thinking that antibacterial soaps are your safest bet to remain healthy. But the fact is that they are no more effective in killing bad germs, like coronavirus, than regular soap and water. Furthermore, they may help make more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, doing more harm than good. They also contain triclosan, an endocrine disruptor that is believed by some to cause nut allergies and hay fever, with prolonged exposure.
Fire retardants in mattresses and upholstery
Finally, most mattresses and upholstered furnishings are treated with chemical flame retardants to slow the burn in case of fire. A noble cause, certainly, but those chemical retardants have been linked to linked to infertility, cancer, obesity, and developmental brain disorders. These days, there are many alternative options that do not contain these chemicals, just be sure to do your research when buying a new mattress or sofa.
In most cases, we can’t completely cut some of these products and chemicals out of our lives, but the decisions that we make as consumers have an impact. The more that we support products and companies that we believe are good for us and good for the earth, the more options we’ll have available to us.
Stay healthy, everyone!