Your home should be a safe haven – but little did you know, the very place you thought was safe, actually poses a huge health risk.
Common household products you’ve been using for years on end could very well place you at the same risk of developing cancer as someone who smokes, drinks alcohol excessively, or uses tanning beds.
The ingredients in these products are known human carcinogens. This means that when these ingredients enter our body in some way, shape or form, they cause rapid shifts in the way our DNA is produced – changing it and mutating it, until cancer all of a sudden manifests itself.
Prolonged exposure to these substances is usually what triggers cancer to show up in the body. Your risk of developing cancer will depend on how strong your genes are, whether you’ve been exposed to the substance for a month compared to a couple years, and how intense the exposure was.
Here are 6 common household products that are known carcinogens. Don’t hesitate to throw them out immediately after reading!
1. Air Fresheners
Air fresheners are everywhere – whether in a can, as a plug-in, or dangling from the window of your car. These fresheners don’t actually make your air space any cleaner – they make it much more toxic. Plug-in air fresheners produce formaldehyde, which we then breathe in, putting us at risk of developing cancers of the nose and throat. It can also cause sore throats, coughs, scratchy eyes and nosebleeds. Other ingredients in air fresheners include petroleum products which have been linked with a raised risk of asthma not only in children, but adults, too.
2. Plastic Tupperware
Eating food or drinking liquids from plastic, or subsequently storing these items in plastic, can cause chemicals from the plastic to leach into whatever it’s touching. These chemicals include things like Bisphenol A (BPA), which helps harden plastic in tupperware, water bottles, and other food and drink containers. Bisphenol A has been repeatedly linked to disrupting sperm production, affecting fertility, causing changes in the prostate gland and mammary gland development. It also has a negative effect on the brain.
Healthier option: glass tupperware is my favourite thing to store food in – it doesn’t contain BPA and won’t taste off the next day, unlike most food that tastes weird after storing it in plastic.
3. Cleaning Products
Cleaning products are among some of the worst culprits for toxic exposure to harsh chemicals. I mean, why else would there be hazard symbols on the cleaning products? How is this safe for humans? When we use these chemicals to clean our house, they linger in the air, and we breathe them in. When we use chemical cleaning products to wash our dishes, we ingest the residues on them when we eat our food. The chemicals in cleaning products, ranging from ammonia, to mono-, di-, and tri-ethanolamines, fragrances and phosphates, all impact our health (and the environment) negatively. They have the ability to cause cancer, trigger asthma and cause you to develop flu-like symptoms. They are skin and respiratory irritants, and can cause kidney and other organ damage. Just don’t use them. Period!
Healthier option: there are so many natural cleaning products on the market now that don’t contain harmful ingredients. Alternatively, you could make your own cleaning products, which is just as effective.
4. Dryer sheets
Dryer sheets, contrary to popular belief, are quite toxic. According to the EPA and MSDS, there are various chemicals in fabric softeners and dryer sheets, such as chloroform, limonene, ethanol, pentane, linalool and benzyl acetate, to name a few. These chemicals have a major negative impact on the human body, and can trigger asthma, central nervous system disorders, upper respiratory tract infections, and a variety of different cancers.
Healthier option: instead of dryer sheets, you can use dryer balls. They work great, too! You might not get that dryer sheet smell – but those smells are synthetic anyway. Who needs their clothes fragranced? Not me!
5. Scented Candles
I’ve never been a fan of scented candles – and for good reason, too. They are a major source of indoor air pollution, and the chemicals they put off have been considered just as dangerous as second-hand smoke. Most candles are made of paraffin wax, and when burned, creates highly toxic benzene and toluene (both known carcinogens). Here are some more chemicals found in scented candles: Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, and Cyclopentene. Convinced enough yet? These chemicals are all linked to cancer, and can cause headaches, lung problems, and kidney and liver issues.
Healthier option: opt for beeswax candles instead of the scented ones. Natural beeswax smells rustic and beautiful, too!
6. Non-Stick Cookware
Non-stick cookware is lined with a chemical compound called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTE – also known as Teflon), which releases toxic gasses when heated. These gasses have been directly linked to cancer, organ failure, reproductive damage, and other health risks.
Healthier option: consider using cast iron or anodized aluminum pans. Stainless steel pans also work great, and are eco-friendly, too! Just stay clear of Teflon coatings.