More and more, we seem to be hearing news of the toxicity of chemicals found in objects and products all around us. Formaldehyde in furniture and upholstery; dyes, fragrances, and parabens (a kind of preservative) in cosmetics and personal care products; and BPA in food containers and packaging all come to mind. While these toxins are harmful to everyone, those with allergies must be especially careful about exposure because many of these chemicals contribute to compromised indoor air quality and can cause respiratory trouble and skin irritation.
Recently, Time Magazine published a list of the Top 10 Common Household Toxins. Following is a summary of the list, and some alternative products that can help you avoid these dangerous chemicals:
- BPA, a chemical used in plastic production, is often found in water bottles, food packaging, and baby bottles. Switch to non-plastic containers when possible. Use glass food containers at home, for instance, stainless steel water bottles, and BPA-free baby bottles.
- Oxybenzone is found in sunscreens, lip balms, and moisturizers. Vanicream Sunscreen and Vanicream Skin Cream are oxybenzone-free alternatives.
- Fluoride, found in tap water and toothpaste, is another concern. To help avoid it, buy fluoride-free toothpaste.
- Parabens are synthetic preservatives found in personal care products like cosmetics, shaving creams, lotions, and shampoos and conditioners. Look for paraben-free products like Free & Clear Shampoo and Conditioner.
- Phthalates are chemicals that give plastic flexibility and resiliency and are used in a huge variety of products, from vinyl flooring and shower curtains to raincoats, toys, and food packaging. Avoid vinyl and be on the lookout for toys and food packaging that may contain the chemical.
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is an additive used as a preservative in chewing gum, snack foods, and diaper creams. Look for products without this chemical.
- Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) is a component of Teflon nonstick coatings. Don't use Teflon cookware, or avoid heating empty Teflon cookware to high temperatures.
- Perchlorate, an oxidant in rocket fuel, is found in drinking water, soil, and some vegetables. There's not much we can do to avoid it, but environmental groups are putting pressure on the government to lower levels found in drinking water.
- Decabromodiphenyl Ether (DECA) is a flame retardant found in carpets, furniture, and electronics. The industry is phasing out the chemical. However, be aware that flame retardant chemicals are also present in mattresses and can cause trouble for those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Royal Pedic Mattresses and other NAOMI-compliant Organic Mattresses are excellent alternatives.
- Asbestos can be present in housing insulation, drywall, artificial fireplace logs, and toys. Though most manufacturers have abandoned its use or at least reduced its levels, it is not banned by the U.S. government, so be aware that it can still be present in your environment.