Harmful Chemicals in Your Home
Our homes are our sanctuaries. The place we get better when unwell, where we share personal and social experiences with friends and family and where we come to wash, sleep, eat and live out our lives.
With so many activities taking place in our homes, it can be a scary thought that they may be full of invisible dangers in the form of chemicals that we come into contact with daily. Cleaning products, nail varnish removers, glues, paints, solvents, batteries, pharmaceuticals, electronics, small machines (such as lawn mowers and garden equipment), insecticides, lighter fluids and cosmetics are all items which can emit toxic chemicals into our homes.
With so many different types of products available, it can be difficult to know which brands can be harmful to us and which ones are good for everyone including the environment.
Many cleaning products, paints and day-to-day items release fumes which shouldn’t be inhaled by adults, children or pets. Some substances can even burn our skin, irritate our eyes or cause harm once we have disposed of them. Many, if not all the chemicals we have in our homes are frighteningly poisonous if swallowed.
If you choose to use chemical based products, always keep them out of reach of children and animals and take extra precautions when cleaning by ensuring your rooms are well-ventilated and use masks and or gloves to protect your lungs and skin. In addition, ensure that chemical products always stay in their original packing because the bottles contain important safety and disposal information.
Using non-toxic cleaning products will improve the quality of your home environment while also lessening the risk of accidents relating to dangerous chemicals in our homes or in our environment.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, on average, each person produces just under 2kg of toxic waste each year. Much of this is poured directly down our drains into our rivers, causing pollution and damage to our eco-system.
Although there are plenty of brands out there, Eczone, Sodasan and Eco.3 stand out for their safe, non-toxic cleaning formulas and their wide product range.
As a cleaning alternative, homemade remedies are great and can often work out much cheaper to produce and replenish. You can find a whole range of recipes online, but the main ingredients and their uses are as follows
- White vinegar to remove grease
- Olive oil can be used as furniture polish
- Baking soda and water acts as an all purpose cleaner
- Lemon juice helps to remove stains, cleans class and helps to eliminate bad odors
Paint is often overlooked as a harmful chemical in our homes, yet we use it to cover almost every surface. Conventional paints can give off toxic fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s for short). When repainting furniture or rooms, especially children’s bedrooms, consider low VOC or eco-friendly paints. Eco paints which are plant-based and created with natural solvents are ideal for any room in the house, but work particularly well on older walls which need to breathe. Paints can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea and the toxic chemicals can continue to be released years after painting.
Although often more expensive, eco-paints tend to perform better than synthetic paints as the pigment content is usually higher. Earthborn, Farrow and Ball , Benjamin Moor’s Natura range and Aglaia are a few eco-friendly paints which supply high quality paints, in a range of tones and colors.
Cosmetic and pharmaceutical products
Pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products can also be made up of chemical compounds. Unlike with food, our daily beauty and cosmetic products are not required to highlight their expiration date on their packaging. Expired beauty products can cause skin irritation, rashes and eye infections so it’s important to keep track of when you purchased your products.
To minimalize the risk of exposing yourself to unwanted chemicals in your cosmetics, dispose of foundations and mascaras after a few months, especially when they begin to dry out and become clumpy. Eyebrow pencils, lip liners and eyebrow pencils have a shelf life of about a year and eye shadows and powders should be replaced after two years.
Always check the expiration date on medications and cosmetics (if they have them) prior to using them and never use expires drugs. As cosmetics are in contact with some of our most delicate areas, it is important to consider what harmful bacteria and toxins can be formed in our products, simply over time. Keeping your makeup and pharmaceuticals out of the moist, warm environment of the bathroom, in a contained and dry space, will also help reduce harmful chemicals and bacteria growth in daily used items.