How to Reduce Chemical Use in Your Home
Most homes are stocked with furniture polish, bleach, bathroom sprays, and other cleaning products. What many people do not know is that these products are dangerous to their health. Cleaning products, pesticides, and other household chemicals contain substances that irritate the respiratory tract and may even increase the risk of cancer and other health problems. When someone sprays a household cleaner or a pesticide, tiny particles enter the air, making it possible to breathe in these chemicals. Radon, lead, ammonia, BPA, and pesticides are just a few of the hazardous chemicals found in some homes. Reducing toxin levels in the home can have a positive effect on the health and well-being of everyone who lives there.
One of the best ways to reduce toxin use is to replace harsh chemicals with natural cleansers. Vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, cream of tartar, and other natural products make safe, effective cleaning products for bathtubs, sinks, toilets, countertops, and other areas of the home. Another easy way to reduce toxin exposure is to ban tobacco from the home. Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to respiratory problems and may increase the risk of some types of cancer. Instead of using bottled water, install a water filter on each tap in the home. Some water bottles are made with plastic that contains dangerous chemicals.
Regular testing for lead and radon is important, especially in a home that has children living in it. Exposure to lead can cause developmental delays and other serious health problems. Radon increases the risk of lung cancer, with the EPA estimating that radon causes approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Always check the labels of beauty products and processed foods to make sure there are is no methylparaben present. This chemical has been linked to allergic reactions and other health conditions. Instead of using harmful pesticides, try natural alternatives. These natural pesticides keep pests away without harming pets or increasing the risk of health problems in humans.
Never mix chemicals when using household cleaners. Bleach and ammonia, for example, create a volatile chemical reaction when mixed together. This reaction results in the release of a dangerous gas that can hurt the respiratory system and cause serious complications. Some people do not realize that car waxes and other auto products may be hazardous to their health. Instead of using harsh products to remove battery corrosion or perform other car care tasks, use baking soda and water instead. Bleach is not the only substance that disinfects surfaces. Instead of using this caustic chemical, use Borax and hot water. Not only does this mixture kill germs, it also deodorizes.
Instead of turning to chemicals for common household problems, try non-chemical solutions first. Use a plunger to unclog drains instead of using harsh drain cleaners. Do not coat clothing with chemical fabric softeners. Use dryer balls or homemade fabric softeners that do not contain harsh chemicals. Use organic substances, such as coffee grounds and potato peels, for fertilizer instead of using harsh chemical fertilizers. This will help make plants beautiful without contaminating the soil. Furniture polish does not have to contain chemicals to do a good job. A simple mix of almond oil or vegetable oil with vegetable juice leaves a nice shine without contaminating the air. Liquid castile soap also makes a suitable alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. Read the directions on the soap to make sure it is used properly. Scouring powder is ideal for removing mildew without resorting to toxic bathroom cleaners. Simply spraying plants with water may be enough to remove insects without having to use harsh chemicals.
With a little effort, it is possible to reduce household toxin use. Reducing toxin use can improve asthma and allergy symptoms, prevent some types of cancer, and reduce the symptoms of other health conditions. Making these changes is also good for the environment, as harsh chemicals contaminate the soil and the water. Children benefit from these changes because they have a reduced risk of poisoning and health concerns related to chemical use.
These resources explain more about the dangers of household chemicals and how to replace chemicals with natural alternatives.
- Common Cleaning Products May Be Dangerous When Mixed (PDF): This resource discusses the danger of mixing household chemicals.
- Dangers Household Cleaners Pose to Kids: This article from CBS News discusses safety issues related to household cleaners and young children.
- Cleaning Supplies and Household Chemicals: This resource explains how harsh chemicals affect the respiratory system.
- Contact Dermatitis: This article explains how household chemicals can irritate the skin.
- Secondhand Smoke and Cancer: The National Cancer Institute explains the link between smoke exposure and cancer.
- Smoke-Free Policies and Secondhand Smoke Exposure: This resource from the CDC examines the effectiveness of smoke-free policies in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home (PDF): This resource guide from the Environmental Protection Agency explains the dangers of lead.
- What is BPA?: This article from the Mayo Clinic discusses the possible dangers of products that contain BPA.
- The Dangers of Radon Gas: This article discusses the safety issues associated with radon gas.
- Hazardous Household Products: This resource explains what makes a household product hazardous.
- Safe Storage of Chemicals: This resource provides instructions for storing hazardous chemicals safely.
- Household Chemicals: The Basics: This article from the Cleveland Clinic explains what to do if someone ingests a household chemical.
- The Dangers of Pesticides: This article explains why pesticides are so hazardous.
- The Dangers Under Your Sink: This article from MSN explains how some products put kids at risk for serious health problems.
- Preventing Poisoning: This resource offers safety tips for preventing poisoning by household chemicals.
- Common Household Cleaners Can Trigger Asthma: This article discusses the dangers of household cleaners for people who have asthma.
- Household Safety Publications: This resource offers a list of publications by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some of these publications address household chemical safety.
- Chemical Pneumonitis: This article from MedlinePlus discusses the dangers of inhaling household chemical fumes.
- Safe Ways to Control Pests Around Your Home: This article discusses alternatives to using dangerous pesticides.
- Safer Alternatives for Household Cleaning: This resource offers a list of alternatives to household chemicals.