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15 Things in Our Homes That Are Slowly Poisoning Us

Every day, we may overlook the hidden dangers of seemingly harmless household items. These are the everyday objects we interact with without a second thought, masking hidden hazards that could take you by surprise.

We live in a world filled with chemical substances we don’t fully understand. Exploring chemical toxicity can be overwhelming, often making it easier to live in ignorant bliss. This article isn’t meant to induce fear or panic but rather to educate and raise awareness about some common household items that may be slowly poisoning us.

Let’s look at 15 things in our homes that could be silently harming us.

1. Antibacterial Soaps

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Antibacterial soaps have been our trusty sidekicks in the battle against germs. However, you might not know that these soaps often contain triclosan and triclocarban, chemicals that may contribute to antibiotic resistance, disrupt hormonal balance, and cause certain medical treatments to lose effectiveness.

Evidence shows that regular soap and water can effectively remove germs without the downsides of antibacterial ingredients. Look for hand soaps free of triclosan, other antibacterial compounds, and fragrances to keep your hands clean without the added risks.

2. Non-Stick Cookware

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You may be a fan of non-stick cookware because of its convenience, but it’s time to consider ditching it. Many older non-stick coatings are made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which can release harmful fumes when overheated.

Chronic exposure to these fumes is associated with flu-like symptoms and potential long-term health risks, including cancer. Opting for safer alternatives like stainless steel or cast iron cookware can be healthier for your family and environment. Or it just might be time to update those old Teflon pans for something PFOA-free.

3. Flea and Tick Products

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While intended to protect our beloved pets, Flea and tick products have hidden dangers. As highlighted by an FDA alert, these products often contain pesticides that can result in severe consequences such as nerve damage, neurological issues, and even seizures.

Consider safer alternatives and discuss options with your veterinarian to keep your furry friends free from pests without compromising their safety (or yours since you are often petting and snuggling them).

4. Air Fresheners and Perfume

Young woman holding bottle of air freshener at home
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Air fresheners, commonly used to mask odors and create a pleasant atmosphere, could do more harm than good. Many of these products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and synthetic fragrances, which can release harmful chemicals into our air.

Over time, continuous exposure to these chemicals has been associated with serious health consequences. Damage to vital organs such as the lungs, kidneys, and central nervous system can occur, along with disruptions to hormonal balance, raising the risk of cancer and reproductive problems. 

5. Furniture Polish

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These non-vegetable, oil-based formulations are highly flammable and contain chemicals like phenol and nitrobenzene. These substances can permeate the skin, potentially leading to skin cancer. Moreover, contact with these chemicals can cause skin and eye irritation, vision problems, and burns. 

To mitigate these serious health risks, it is essential to opt for safer alternatives and be cautious while using these products. You can try healthier alternatives, such as using a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice to polish your furniture. This natural solution is safer for you and your loved ones and can save you money in the long run.

6. Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Young woman cleaning toilet in bathroom
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Toilet bowl cleaners often contain strong and corrosive chemicals like hydrochloric acid or sodium hypochlorite, which can release harmful fumes upon contact. Inhaling these fumes can lead to respiratory irritation and exacerbate conditions like asthma. Additionally, direct skin contact can cause burns and irritation.

Use safer alternatives or protective gear when cleaning your toilet to avoid potential harm.

7. Gas Space Heaters

Winter season, woman warming up near home heating radiator
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While providing warmth, gas space heaters can pose significant risks to your health and safety. These heaters release carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as byproducts. Inadequate ventilation or malfunctioning units can lead to the buildup of these poisonous gases, which are odorless and colorless. Inhalation of these gases can lead to severe health consequences.

To ensure safety, proper installation, regular maintenance, and sufficient ventilation are essential when using gas space heaters. It’s also worth installing a carbon monoxide alarm in your home since it does not produce a scent and can have very serious consequences.

8. Extension Cords

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Extension cords won’t poison us, but they do pose a serious health risk if used wrong. Overloading extension cords with too many appliances can lead to overheating and even electrical fires. Additionally, placing indoor extension cords outdoors exposes them to moisture, increasing the risk of shock or short circuits. 

Make sure you are using your cords safely and correctly to avoid accidents and injury.

9. Flaking Paint

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Flaking paint, a common issue in older homes, can be more than just an aesthetic problem. Paint in older homes might still contain lead, a toxic metal. When lead-based paint deteriorates and flakes, it can create lead dust and chips that pose serious health risks, particularly to young children and pregnant women. Thankfully, this is a problem that has mostly been resolved as people repaint and remodel their homes.

Ingesting or inhaling lead dust can lead to lead poisoning, which can cause developmental issues, learning disabilities, and other health problems. If you are remodeling an old home or visiting a vacant home, take precautions to avoid lead paint exposure.

10. Humidifiers

Home Air Humidifier Device In Bedroom Near Woman Sleeping
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While humidifiers add moisture to indoor air, they can have hidden drawbacks if used incorrectly. Improper maintenance can lead to the growth of mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms in the humidifier’s water reservoir and mist output. Breathing in contaminated mist from a humidifier can lead to respiratory issues, allergies, and even lung infections, especially in infants.

Clean your humidifier regularly and refill it daily with clean, filtered water for the best results.  

11. Bleach

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Bleach is the ultimate stain-busting, germ-repelling potion in every household. Some people love it, while others can’t stand the smell of it in their homes.

Regardless, its main active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, can release toxic fumes when mixed with other chemicals, such as ammonia or certain acids. Inhaling these fumes can lead to respiratory irritation, coughing, and even more serious health issues.

Direct skin contact with concentrated bleach can cause irritation, burns, and dermatitis. Use bleach sparingly, with proper ventilation, and use alternatives when possible.

12. Electric Blankets

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Electricity and heating devices should always be used cautiously. Research has linked electric blankets to instances of heat stroke in some individuals. Moreover, concerns about the potential connection between electric blankets and reproductive issues have also arisen.

A good old fashioned hot water bottle, warm bottle, or well-vetted heating blanket with low heat settings and auto turn-off might be the best option.

13. Flame Retardants

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While flame retardants serve a protective purpose, some have raised health and environmental concerns. These chemicals can escape from products and accumulate in the environment and our bodies. Some flame retardants have been linked to potential health issues, including hormonal disruption, developmental problems, and cancer. 

Flame retardants are used on many household items such as furniture, electronics, and mattresses. To reduce exposure to these chemicals, consider purchasing products made with natural or alternative fire-resistant materials.

14. Medications

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Misusing or taking the wrong dosage of medications can be harmful or even life-threatening. Follow the prescribed dosages and consult a healthcare professional if unsure. Not to mention, they should also always be kept out of the hands of pets and children.

When discarding expired or unused medications, follow proper disposal guidelines to prevent environmental harm. Overall, being mindful and responsible regarding medication use is crucial for our health and safety.

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