You don’t have to look hard to find nasty chemicals in most homes. Some, however, are worse than others. You can make your home a healthier place by eradicating the following four chemicals from your living space.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Image via Flickr by Muffet
Bisphenol A (BPA) has gotten much attention because most water bottles contain BPA. You can also find this chemical in some unlikely places. Carpet manufacturers, for example, use BPA as a flame retardant. Many metal cans used for canned goods also contain BPA.
Researchers have linked BPA to some serious health problems, including a higher risk of prostate cancer, ADHD, and diabetes. You can decrease exposure to BPA by purchasing products that do not contain the chemical. Drinking from glasses instead of plastic cups, for example, should decrease the amount of BPA in your family’s life. You will need to do some research to decide which products you want to buy, but BPA-free alternatives exist for many products.
Atrazine is one of the most popular herbicides used in the United States. Agriculturists use the product primarily to kill broadleaf and grassy weeds that can crowd out corn crops. Considering that everything from cosmetics to Splenda contains corn, you almost certainly have some atrazine in your home.
You probably can’t eliminate all contact with atrazine, but you can minimize your exposure by choosing organic products. Agriculturists following organic growing guidelines don’t use atrazine, so you shouldn’t find this herbicide used in fresh organic vegetables or corn-based products.
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
You won’t see volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home because they exist in the air. VOCs come from a variety of products, including building materials, new carpets, and chemicals used to dry-clean clothes. Short-term exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Prolonged exposure can lead to cancer, central nervous system damage, and damage to the liver and kidneys.
Eliminating all VOCs from your home would take a Herculean effort, but you can reduce their presence greatly by improving the indoor air quality of your home. Some simple strategies include opening windows to ventilate areas, replacing your HVAC system’s air filter monthly, and installing an air purifier. The more VOCs you can remove, the healthier your home’s air can become.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element present in the environment, but it is also a dangerous poison that can kill people in large quantities. You may not know that arsenic already exists throughout your home. Treated lumber, for example, often contains arsenic. The most alarming products, however, include foods that you enjoy regularly. You can find arsenic in some apple juice, rice, poultry, dark-meat fish, and alcoholic beverages.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to monitor arsenic levels in food and beverages. Unless you grow everything you eat, you will have a difficult time removing all traces of the chemical from the products you buy.
Families can’t eliminate all potentially dangerous chemicals from their homes, but they can make choices that limit their exposure. Now that you know the dangers of these four chemicals, you can start to remove them from your home and your lifestyle.