Your Home's Hidden Poisons

Most of us are aware of the hidden dangers that lie in everyday household items like cleaning products and disinfectants, but what about the things you come into contact with on a more regular basis? More and more, potentially toxic chemicals are used on items you would never think possible, given their intended use. From your laundry, and the clothes you wear to where you sleep and light itself, there are potential dangers hiding in plain sight every day and night. Here are a few examples of what you might have in your own home, and how to avoid their possible dangers.

It might sound like reverse psychology, but products that smell clean are usually pretty unhealthy for you. The fragrances that are created and used in laundry products like detergent and fabric softener are made up of mostly synthetic chemicals that are petroleum based. These types of chemicals can cause cancer, lung damage, and asthma. Most supermarkets will carry a couple of options as far as natural detergents go, and you can also replace fabric softener with a half cup of white vinegar in order to soften clothing and reduce static. However, be sure not to combine vinegar with bleach in the same load, as it can result in toxic fumes.

Clothing that is labeled as no iron or wrinkle free usually are coated in chemicals called perfluorochemicals that are also used for stain resistance. This family of chemicals cannot be broken down in the body once absorbed. They accumulate in cells over time, and have been linked to liver and bladder cancers, as well as reproductive and developmental toxicity. Other synthetic fabrics like polyester can contain carcinogens like polyvinyl chloride, and even though some of these chemicals can outgas after numerous washings, it isnt likely that theyll all disperse. Try to avoid clothing items labeled as wrinkle free, stain resistant, or static resistant. Instead, opt for more natural fibers like 100% cotton, linen, wool, or cashmere.

Most modern mattresses are made with polyurethane, which is so flammable it earned the nick name solid gasoline. As if that wasnt bad enough, theyre usually treated with flame retardant chemicals. These include polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and heavy metals like antimony which can interfere with normal brain functions and even disrupt hormone activity. If your mattress was manufactured prior to 2005, you should consider replacing it with an organic mattress made with natural latex and wool. If you buy a new synthetic mattress, let it outgas somewhere outdoors or in a garage for a few days before you sleep on it to avoid chemical absorption.

Since the invention of the electric light bulb, its been a rarity that any human has experienced a truly dark night. The human body evolved to be exposed to light during the day, but not at night. Certain chemicals in the body are produced at night, when the body expects lower levels of light. Chemicals like melatonin can greatly affect immunity and oxidation, which can lead to degenerative conditions like heart disease. Melatonin production seems to be more affected by blue or white light that you might see from a TV or computer than red light, so if you must use night lights opt for those using red instead. For the best results, keep your bedroom completely dark and free of any external light sources. 

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