While we may be burning the greenie candle at both ends, blending up organic smoothies, filtering our water, being mindful with our non-toxic detergents, there are other sources of toxins hiding in plain sight
Which areas of your home may not cut the mustard when it comes to non-toxic living, and what can you do about it?
In the bedroom
Our bed is where we retreat to slumber, dream and renew ourselves. But are you aware that your bedding and even your bed itself even can be the source of toxins that can have the potential to cause poor health?
Detergents, petrochemical dyes, formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage and creasing, dioxin bleaches and chemical fabric softeners. Quite a toxic list! Even organic materials need some level of processing, but the idea is to find options that are as clean as possible.
Synthetic fibres like polyester, apart from containing petrochemicals and toxins, don’t breathe as naturally and are prone to trapping moisture that creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Polyester and other synthetic fibres give off toxins that have been found to disrupt hormones and have been linked to cancer, but even if you opt for cotton because it seems to be the more natural option, it is in fact one of the most pesticide and chemical-laden crops in the world. The danger extends all the way from the damage it does to the environment, to your snug bed where you rest every night.
Your mattress and bedding inners can hide toxins too. Because these are flammable materials, they are often treated with flame retardants that are semi-volatile organic compounds that we can inhale and accumulate in our bodies. They can also be absorbed through our skin if we lie on a mattress that has been treated.
Sound unappealing? Luckily you have the power to choose natural, organic options!
- Organic cotton is grown without the use of harmful toxins and pesticides and chemicals. The resulting fabric is a breathable natural fabric that is gentle and hypoallergenic, minus the toxins.
- Organic hemp is one of the most sustainable, eco-friendly fabrics around. It’s naturally moisture resistant, hypoallergenic and breathable, and while it is very durable, it gets softer over time.
- Bamboo is a popular up-and-coming fabric. Bamboo grows fast, needs less water and fewer pesticides and the resultant fabric is durable, antibacterial, breathable and hypoallergenic.
And remember that the good old-fashioned tradition of airing your bedding out in the sunlight now and again can also work wonders for keeping your sleeping space clean, fresh and healthy so you can have sweet dreams.
In the kitchen
You can cook the healthiest organic food around, conscientiously cleanse your kitchen with organic detergents, but what about the cookware you use? When you heat up your favourite non-stick frying pan, did you know that the toxic materials can actually leach into your food?
Teflon contains chemicals such as PFTE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), synthetic compounds that when heated release toxic fumes that get into your food and the air you breathe.
Another common material in cookware is aluminium. When it’s heated it reacts with and leeches into your food. It’s been linked to issues like Alzheimer’s and neurological disorders. Quality cookware with an aluminium base is fine, it’s about the actual surface coating with which your food comes into contact.
The four walls
Did you know that those beautiful shades decorating your walls could contain a cocktail of chemicals that, even once dry, can release into the air you breathe over time, for years even, and cause all sorts of problems for your health?
Chemicals like formaldehyde, acrylic polymers, ethaline glycol and alkyl phenol ethoxylates can exacerbate asthma, cause cancer, affect your kidneys and disrupt hormones. This also applies to applications you use on your furniture such as wood varnishes and polishes.
Be sure to look out for these nasties in paint:
- Acrylic polymers with TEA and N-methyl pyrrolidone: may negatively influence foetal development / pregnancy
- Ethylene glycol derivatives, sweet smelling poisons found in most water and solvent-based paints
- Alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APES): endocrine disruptors that are a known problem for human and aquatic life worldwide. Found in many water-borne paints
- Isoaliphatics: mineral spirits in disguise. Isopar is an Exxon brand name for petro-chemical based iso-paraffinic solvents
- Oximes (for example 2-Butanonoxim): A common anti-skinning agent in oil based paints that is not necessary to make quality products
Everything in your home has a history – it was made somewhere, and of something! As you green your home and your health, gradually replacing toxic materials with healthier ones, each step takes you closer to living in a cleaner, greener environment that not only means your health will benefit, but the earth too.
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.