We’re exposed to toxins all the time. They’re in the air we breathe, the products we use, and they’re even in our homes!
In fact, in most cases, our homes and other indoor spaces are two to five times more toxic than our outdoor environment.
Since the average American spends 90 percent of their lives indoors (1), the health of your family is dependent upon you having a healthy home, literally. So in this blog post, the final post in this series on family health, you’ll learn where the toxins in your home are hiding, plus how to reduce them and create a safe, toxin-free space for your family.
You may have a toxic home if it contains any of the following:
- Non-Organic Mattresses
- Dry Cleaned Clothing
You sleep on your mattress every night in a contained space that may not have the ventilation needed to clear the air of all of the chemicals found in your conventional mattress. That means for 7-9 hours each night, you are breathing in toxins like flame retardants, boric acid, formaldehyde, and antimony.
All conventional mattresses in the United States are treated with antimony and other flame retardant chemicals to prevent household fires from spreading. They have been shown to cause reproductive, neurological, thyroid and other developmental problems, making them especially harmful for infants. Long-term exposure can also cause damage to the liver and the heart (2, 3).
Formaldehyde is a strong smelling chemical that is used in mattresses and a variety of building materials. According to the National Cancer Institute, exposure to formaldehyde can result in coughing, nausea, and skin problems. It can also cause cancer and liver toxicity with long-term exposure (4).
Did you know it takes 7 years to off-gas all of the chemicals found in a conventional mattress?
Create a healthy home by purchasing an organic mattress, like these from Naturepedic, or by setting your mattress outside for 4-5 days in a dry, sunny place. Sun and wind are powerful off-gassing tools and will help to reduce the chemicals and toxins in your mattress before you bring it into your home.
Dry cleaners use toxic chemical solvents, like perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene, PCE, or perc. When inhaled, even small amounts of perc have been shown to cause eye irritation, headaches, respiratory discomfort, dizziness, and vision problems (5).
You can create a healthy and less toxic home by choosing organic or green dry cleaning options, or by hanging your dry cleaned clothing outside for a few hours to air out before bringing it inside.
Carpet contains many of the same toxic chemicals as conventional mattresses: formaldehyde, flame retardants, carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and polybrominated-biphenyl-ethers (PBDEs). Also, if you’re walking on your carpet with your shoes on, they also contain pollen, dust, bacteria, and any dirt and chemicals that you happened to step in or on outside.
Remove your shoes when you enter your home. If possible, choose hardwood floors over carpet. If carpet is a must, opt for organic wool or cotton as they contain fewer chemicals than synthetic materials.
You can also reduce toxins and create a safe and healthy home by opening windows for ventilation or using an air purifier to filter out toxins in the air.
To clear the air, Dr. Judy recommends IQ air purifiers.
Another toxin that may be preventing you from having a healthy home is mold.
Mold and mildew thrive in homes, especially in warm, damp places – under sinks, in washing machines, and showers. Exposure to mold can cause a range of symptoms, most notably nasal congestion, throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, and skin irritation.
If you suspect that mold is present in your home, have your home tested and if necessary, treated using non-toxic products.
We all want green grass and lush landscapes, but the chemicals typically used to make this happen can be detrimental to your health, causing dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological, respiratory, reproductive, and endocrine system problems (7).
If you must spray your lawn with conventional products, spray only on the perimeter and areas that are several feet away from the windows and doors of your home. Otherwise, choose organic products or work with a company that uses organic, eco-friendly options, like Ladybug Pest Control here in Arizona.
You can also reduce your family’s exposure to pesticides by choosing organic fruits and vegetables over conventional varieties.
Bleach is one of the most commonly used disinfectants in the world, but it’s not the safest, especially for individuals with asthma or chronic bronchitis as it is more likely to cause respiratory problems than other cleaners. (8).
Prolonged exposure to bleach can also cause chemical pneumonitis, a condition with symptoms like coughing, difficulty breathing, the feeling of not being able to get enough air, gurgling chest sounds and burning in the chest. (9)
Fortunately, you don’t need to use bleach to have a healthy home. There are more natural alternatives available, like distilled vinegar, lemon juice, and hydrogen peroxide.
It’s impossible to rid your home environment of all toxins, but you can reduce the toxicity of your home by opening windows to improve air circulation, removing your shoes when you enter your home, and using a high-quality air filter.
If you want to take your home detoxification a step further, buy some plants!
Plants are a natural and effective way to remove toxins from your home (10). These are the most effective when it comes to purifying the air:
- Spider Plant
- Jade Plant
I hope you’ll use the tools and resources shared in this series on family health to support and optimize your health and the health of your family.