Toxins are all around us. For optimal heath, it's important to reduce our exposure to chemical and toxins. Here are 10 tips to help you keep your home and work environment clean and green.
1. Conventional flooring.
Conventional carpet is made from synthetic, petroleum-based fibers that can emit up to 120 hazardous chemicals linked to asthma, allergies, neurological problems and cancer. Many of the chemicals that are mainly found in the rubber padding and adhesive glues can take years to off-gas. Instead, use cotton or wool rugs or recycled carpet tiles, which do not require adhesive glues. Also consider stained concrete and renewable wood such as bamboo or cork.
2. VOC paints.
Be sure to use no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints — many companies advertise that they are no-VOC, but that's the base white paint only. Once color is added, it's no longer no-VOC.
3. Upholstered Furniture.
Upholstered furniture can be filled with polyurethane foams that are petroleum-based and full of chemicals and fire retardants. Look for piece made with natural latex foam, wool cushions and organic fabrics. Choose solid wood over pressed particle board, which emits formaldehyde.
4. Commercial bedding.
Choose organic, untreated sheets, blankets and pillows. Otherwise most commercial materials use fire retardants, pesticides, bleach and dyes.
5. Vinyl shower curtains.
The vinyl shower curtains release more than 100 VOCs that can hang around in the air for more than a month. They also contain phthalates, which are hormone and endocrine disrupters. Opt for organic cotton and linen shower curtains instead.
6. Curtains and window treatments.
Most curtains contain fire retardants, pesticides, bleach and dyes. Make sure to use organic, untreated cotton or linen, or opt for bamboo.
7. Conventional mattresses.
Where you sleep and what you sleep on is one of the most important decisons you can make — I can't stress this enough! We spend nearly half our lives asleep, and most of our detox and body repair occurs while we sleep. Conventional mattresses contain harsh chemical and fire retardants which can out-gas for years! Choose 100% natural latex mattresses and organic wool mattress toppers.
8. Cleaning solutions.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) listed household cleaners as one of the top ten pet poisons in 2009. Levels of brominated flame retardants in cats are up to 23 times higher than those found in human beings, and dogs have on average 2.4 times more perfluorinated chemicals in their bodies than people. These are chemicals that are already found in products you buy, such as fire-proof fabrics and stain-proof rugs — just imagine how susceptible your dog or cat is to the chemicals you readily spray and pour in your home. Check out these non-toxic cleaning solutions.
9. Nasty air.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns, “Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health but may not know that indoor air pollution can also have significant effects. EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be 2–5 times, and on occasion more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors. In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by the EPA and its Science Advisory Board (SAB) have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.” Get a HEPA air filter!
10. Dry cleaning.
Dry cleaners are some of the most chemical-laden establishments around. Look for a clean and green or eco-cleaners in your area. If you must use a traditional dry cleaners, remove your garments from the plastic bag and air them outside for several hours before hanging them in your closet.