Potentially dangerous chemicals abound in your home. Besides links to potential cancer risks, these pollutants may even affect your fertility! Scared, yet? Janelle Witzel, Toxic Nation coordinator at Canada’s Environmental Defence (toxicnation.ca), explains how to avoid common household pollutants.
Hazard: Air freshener (with a chemical base).
If you’re constantly breathing in air laced with chemicals, you’ll up your chances of sucking in pollutants, including volatile organic compounds and mould.
Negate the ill-effects by buying a plant or two. They’re not for aesthetics purposes though. For a breath of fresh air, introduce philodendrons or ferns throughout your home. Aim to have two to three houseplants per 30 sq m of room space.
Hazard: PVC and polycarbonate plastic items. (Think sports drink bottles and old takeaway containers.)
Over time and after exposure to heat, plastics that contain Bisphenol A can leach the toxin. Research has linked emissions to breast and prostate cancer.
To protect yourself and your family, check out the bottom of the item, and look for the “bad” recycling numbers: 3 (a.k.a. vinyl) and 7. Opt for glass containers or plastics labelled 1, 2, 4 and 5.
Hazard: Mattresses with brominated flame retardants, plastic or foam.
It may stop your bed from going up in smoke, but this protector is suspected of disrupting hormones, and causing cancer and developmental disorders.
Here’s a comfortable solution for you; Shop for mattresses with cotton stuffing or cotton padding around the foam core. Or try wrapping your existing one in a cotton cloth to act as a protective barrier – but ensure it has a high thread count of 250 or more.
Hazard: Vinyl and fabric shower curtains with a water-repellent coating.
Polycarbonate plastic is made with a toxic chlorine gas by-product and cancer-causing solvents.
With that in mind, ditch the plastic, it’s no longer fantastic. Let your inner hippie run free with natural plant-fibre materials, including cotton and hemp shower curtains. No worries about hemp rotting when it’s wet – the fibres actually become stronger.
Hazard: Chemical pesticides.
Organo-phosphate insecticides are known neurotoxins, and constant exposure won’t help your sperm – they can cause reproductive damage and reduced fertility.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore your beautiful home garden. Just opt for a more organic approach. Get down and dirty, by handpicking weeds, mulching and planting flowers that attract beneficial insects to feast on pests. Visit organicgardening.com for tips and tricks.