Avoid These Household Toxins

Terri Bennett

Posted June 26, 2012

1) Triclosan: It's found in many antibacterial hand soaps, gels, and body washes. Triclosan is believed to interfere with thyroid function. It is also has been linked to the creation of "superbugs," which are resistant to antibiotics.

Alternative? Soap and water. Even the FDA says it "does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water."

2) Flame Retardants: Chemicals found in flame retardants are linked to serious health issues such as delayed brain development, reproductive problems, and cancer. Flame retardant chemicals can be found on children's clothing and mattresses.

Alternative? Organic cotton or natural latex. Instead of clothing made with flame-retardants, opt for snug-fitting organic cotton clothing and a working smoke detector. Also, choose a crib or child's mattress made from organic cotton or natural latex.

3) Pesticides: The EPA warns that most pesticides are especially dangerous to children because they block absorption of nutrients and can even cause permanent biological changes. Recent studies have also linked pesticide exposure to childhood leukemia and birth defects.

Alternative? Vinegar, borax, or food grade diatomaceous earth. Use natural products like these to get rid of pests. Spraying vinegar around doors, windows, and countertops will keep ants away. Borax and sugar will kill roaches. And diatomaceous earth will kill all insects, which means you must use it selectively. Borax and diatomaceous earth are natural but can be hazardous if ingested. Learn more at DoYourPart.com/Columns.

4) Air Fresheners: Why mask bad smells with air polluting chemicals? Most air fresheners can actually leave dangerous levels of hormone disrupting phthalates or formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) behind.

Alternative? Fresh air, baking soda, and soy candles. Getting fresh air into your home can alleviate odors. For tough and stubborn smells like in your garbage can, all-natural baking soda can work wonders. To bring sweeter scents into your home, use soy candles instead of petroleum-based ones.

5) Chemical Cleaners: Most of us don't know we're polluting while cleaning because the makers of popular household cleaners aren't required to list all their ingredients on the label. These hidden ingredients can cause everything from asthma to reproductive problems.

Alternative? Natural cleaners. You can use all natural vinegar and baking soda to clean and disinfect just about every surface in your home. Cleaning recipes can be found at DoYourPart.com/Columns. If you'd rather buy an eco-friendly cleaner, look for those that are plant-based.

Making smarter choices will help to create healthier homes and healthier children. It's one of the most important ways to Do Your Part for your family and our planet. 

(Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of "Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living" available at DoYourPart.com. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

© 2012 Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.. All Rights Reserved
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