These household products might be damaging your health
Household maintenance is an essential part of our lifestyle. Household products enter our homes with mostly two intentions one being need or convenience other being a feel-good factor. You must have splurged on things like a like luxury cookware set, or a beautiful set of scented candles. We might not even need them but we still love buying them. Although there is no harm in spending a few bucks for such leisure, what if I tell you you might be investing in something which can have potentially hazardous effects on your and your family’s health?? I am sure you would like to be a part of this rat race at the cost of your health. So next time when you are out shopping, make sure you make healthy choices and get things that aren’t harmful to you.
Let us discuss here a few common household items that might be a permanent part of your family but are doing you more harm than good. Also, I would help you get a few alternatives to replace those with better options.
Here are lists of a few household products which we commonly use:
With the development of the aesthetic touch of kitchen wares, non-stick cookware is designed to look good. The ease of scraping off the food particles made their usage extremely easy. The non-stick coating of such cookware is made from Polytetrafluoroethylene, a product when heated releases gas linked to higher risks of cancer and other harmful effects. Instead of this cookware, you can opt for cast iron cookware which is naturally non-stick and safe to use, also the presence of iron in those are leached in very little forms in food which improves iron levels of food.
Another common and quite old choice of cookware is made with aluminium, now you may wonder if these vessels are being used for years in our homes by grandparents and if there isn’t any coating on these, so they would not be harmful. When you cook food in aluminium vessels regularly and for too long, the molecules of aluminium get leached and mixed with food which then enters our system. This element is highly potential in creating toxicity in blood and gets deposited in the cells of muscles, kidneys, liver, etc. The same principle applies to aluminium foils used for the packaging of hot foods. With regular usage of the vessels, almost 5–7 mg of particles may enter the body. The common health issues that might arise due to aluminium toxicity from aluminium Household Products would be memory loss, headaches, migraine, digestive disorders, pain in muscles, thyroid malfunctions, weaker bones, neuro-generative diseases, etc. The best alternative for these vessels is the clay pot or earthenware, these cookwares were used for ages for cooking, and their usage is completely safe for cooking. Also it enhances the taste and makes the food alkaline. For wrapping food and packaging opt for traditional muslin cloth or plastic-free paper-based foils.
Plastic food and liquid containers
I would not strain on this point expecting you all to be aware that the usage of plastic water bottles and storing foods, especially liquid and hot ones make the micro-plastic particles get mixed with the water and food get into the body leading to heart and liver issues, hormonal imbalance, cancers, developmental disorders and much more. The only solution to this completely avoids the usage of plastic bottles and containers, opt for steel, copper, mud pots, glass, etc.
Any fragrance that is artificially added to any product is harmful to health. The chemical that is added to most artificial room fresheners comes from the same source used to make plastics, which are phthalates, which have a direct impact on hormonal imbalance and sometimes also contribute to cancers. A healthier alternative to these may be essential oil diffusers wherein you can even choose oils that have relevant effects as per your health conditions. Aromatherapy is a traditional method of supportive medicine, it involves smelling different fragrances to stimulate brain areas that are connected with smell detection. You can use any mild to moderate aromas like lavender, lemongrass, sandalwood, rose, etc which are also helpful to get better sleep if you use them in your bedroom. And trust me it gives a great refreshing and calming experience aiding in the reduction of stress and improving memory as well.
These also contain artificial fragrances, and benzene which is highly toxic to children contributing to autism and other developmental disorders, migraine, and skin irritations, and is also neuro-toxic. Replace these with aroma oils(especially lemon oil if you want to get rid of the bad smell) and fresh flowers instead.
Cleaning Supplies household products
Chemical-based Household cleaners
Bleach is one of the main members present in cleansing agents, it is responsible to contribute to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders). It contains toxic fumes that when gets inhaled irritate the lungs and contribute to asthma giving symptoms like breathing difficulty and cough. Check for sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl -main ingredient in bleaching agents) presence when you buy cleaners for your home. There are many natural alternatives at home like vinegar or normal soap and detergent powders which can be used to clean bathroom fittings, floors, etc.
Antibacterial Household products
After the covid pandemic, we all have become conscious about hygiene and the presence of germs in any area of our body or surroundings. Being in a germ-free environment is all that we aim for and sometimes even become a bit obsessed about choosing particular products which promise to give us a sterile environment. The usage and selling of antibacterial products have risen, which includes anti-bacterial soaps, handwash, powders, toothpaste, deodorants, liquids, and gels even to be applied to intimate areas. The primary or most common ingredient in most antibacterial products is Triclosan, an anti-bacterial medicine that might be only required when you suffer from an active infection. There is no need to use such products regularly, instead, usage of these items creates an imbalance in the normal flora of the body. Our body is loaded with millions of good bacterias which maintains immunity and helps in fighting harmful bacteria. any antibacterial agent does not discriminate between good and bad bacteria and the entire colony gets wiped off. This contributes to multiple health issues like skin irritation and infections, boils, leaky gut, and poor immunity. To wash off the body or hands any regular and mild soap with water is good enough. For oral health, oil pulling is a much more effective process. Next time when you buy such stuff, make sure you check its ingredients and avoid using products that have Triclosan listed on the product. Do not buy anti-bacterial labeled products without any medical prescription.
Personal care products and VOCs
Volatile organic compounds as the name suggests are molecules that can circulate in the air and also will get inhaled when we are exposed to those areas. The reason why one can’t specify one or two products associated with is that VOCs are present in a huge variety of items in our surroundings starting from paints, foams, upholstery, air fresheners, detergents, furniture polishes, dishwashing liquids, dry cleaning chemicals, cosmetics, floor and bathroom cleaners, etc. These compounds irritate eyes, skin, and lungs, and cause headaches, allergies, breathing problems, and even cancers.
Common VOC compounds which can be seen listed in products are benzene, formaldehyde (present in molded plastics), toluene, acetaldehyde, butanal ( candles, gas stove), acetone (present in nail paint removers, furniture polish), Carbon Disulfide ( in chlorinated tap water) methylene chloride, etc. Unfortunately, the most challenging aspect of VOCs is that their presence is so widespread, and sometimes is inevitable to find products without them like your favorite paints and furniture polishes.
It is almost impossible to live a zero VOC exposed life, but there are methods you can reduce the exposure and health risks with the following precautions:
- Only buy and use paints when needed, avoid painting houses too frequently or if the old paint is in good condition.
- Stay in a well-ventilated area so that the volatile compounds can be removed with air.
- When opting for a house renovation, choose a period when you can be out of the house for a few days.
- Avoid using cosmetics which has strong or artificial fragrances
- Choose naturally made floor cleaners like mild soaps and detergents with baking soda for effective floor cleaning.
- Use natural air fresheners like aroma oils instead of room sprays.
- When cooking, keep the area well ventilated.
- Use a carbon filter for the water filtration system to reduce VOCs in chlorinated water
- Avoid heating plastic products or storing hot foods in plastics.
Today there is a rise in allergies, respiratory issues, skin problems, and other diseases. We may become conscious of our diet and exercise routine, but also equally important is to be aware of the type of ingredients we use in our household.
When shopping for your home, always make sure you get your stuff from a certified organic store, be aware of the different names of harmful ingredients and read the label so you can buy only healthy household products.
Over the last few years there has been a growing awareness about the harmful side effects of many daily use products. More and more people are now opting for herbal, safe and clean label products. We are now actively seeking brands that offer safer and environmentally sustainable products which don’t harm our health or the environment. Making sustainable and eco-friendly choices might set you back by a few extra bucks today, but buying the cheaper and harmful products could cost you and your family a lot more in the long run!
This blog was originally published on the Awaana Health Blog.