Green Tips: Avoiding Toxics in the Home
Federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and
the Environmental Protection Agency make laws that are meant to keep harmful
chemicals out of our homes and the environment, but these laws aren’t always
complete or enforced properly. Unfortunately, people have to be discerning when
they shop to make sure they’re not exposing their families to toxics.
Here are some tips for reducing your family’s exposure to
Reduce plastic use. Many kinds of
plastics contain endocrine disrupters that can cause all sorts of health issues
from obesity to liver problems. Read the blog My Plastic-Free Life for practical
ideas on cutting back.
Make friends with the ingredients list.
Environmental Working Group has a large database of products ranging from cosmetics to cleaning materials, ranked by
toxicity. Before you buy, plug the product into their database to make sure
it’s safe for your family. Better yet, make your own cleaning
and personal care products
Ditch triclosan. While Johnson &
Johnson recently decided to remove the antibacterial chemical triclosan from
its line, it’s still used in a wide variety of American products. Check that
your hand soap, toothpaste and other personal care products don’t contain this ingredient
known to cause antibiotic resistance, allergies and other side
Avoid food treated with antibiotics.
Widespread use of antibiotics for livestock has led to the growth of superbugs
that cause illness in humans and decrease the effectiveness of certain drugs.
Buy organic meat and dairy products or switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet.
Use non-chemical methods of rodent
control such as rat traps and make sure the pest control companies you hire
don’t use unsafe products. Up to 15,000 children under age six are exposed to
dangerous levels of rat poison every year.
Choose healthy furnishings. From
VOCs in paint and fiberboard laced with formaldehyde to flame retardant
chemicals in sofas, it’s no wonder indoor air pollution is often worse than
what you’ll find outside. Inhabitat
offers some advice for ensuring your furniture is free of toxic chemicals.