Do you suffer from chronic headaches, skin irritation or allergies? While some of these symptoms can point to a deeper, internal root cause, they can also be a sign of too many toxins in your home. Think about it: We spend the most time in our living spaces. It’s where we eat, sleep, relax and recoup from the outside world. If it’s full of potentially hazardous chemicals, we’re soaking in a toxic soup every day. A typical American comes in regular contact with some 6,000 chemicals and an untold number of potentially toxic substances on a less frequent basis. There are about 75,000 chemicals regularly manufactured and imported by U.S. industries, and we could be exposed to any number of them. Disturbingly, many of them have never been fully tested for safety. And when it comes to our homes, we’ve often become so adapted to our environments that we don’t realize how much they affect us. We pop a pill when we get a headache or can’t stop sneezing, and we slather on some hydrocortisone or antibacterial cream when skin issues flare. A culprit for some of these toxins may be your household cleaner. Most conventional cleaners are made with hazardous ingredients that are now being linked to developmental disorders, brain disorders, endocrine system disruption and cancer. But, never fear: You can detox your home, start fresh and improve your body’s toxic load!
How to Detox Your HomeThe first place to start is getting rid of conventional cleaners that might contain toxic ingredients. Most are labeled with the signal words: CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER. Some are even labeled as HAZARDOUS WASTE, meaning they must be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility and can cause injury if handled improperly—they not only pose a threat to people, but they also can harm the environment. The second step? To replace your products with safer, nontoxic options. We’re getting there.
A Note about GreenwashingAlthough there are many “nontoxic” and “natural” products available that are biodegradable and environmentally safe, many have their own toxic red flags. Ingredients in these “nontoxic” products may have potential for harm. For example, some of the most popular cleaning products that claim to be nontoxic actually have antibacterial ingredients that are EPA-registered pesticides. They may also have preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone, which are known skin irritants and are considered neurotoxic.
Toxic Red Flags: Ingredients to Avoid
- Phenoxyethanol: a preservative that is an endocrine disruptor, neurotoxin, skin and eye irritant; phenoxyethanol is an ethoxylated compound that may be contaminated with the carcinogenic toxin 1,4-Dioxane.
- Petroleum-based ingredients: an ending of “ol” or “ene” is likely an indication of a petroleum-based product or coal tar derivative (i.e. xylol, glycol, phenol, benzene, toulene, xylene).
- Potassium sorbate: preservative associated with skin and eye irritation.
- Sodium benzoate: preservative that has been associated with sensitivity issues.
- Synthetic parfum and fragrances: most are processed with solvents that have harmful VOCs; botanical fragrances must be extracted through distillation, not with solvents.