Toxic Chemicals

You may make every effort to take care of your body and your health by consuming nutritious foods, exercising, and getting enough rest. Therefore, you may be dismayed to realize how many common everyday objects in your home may expose you to toxic substances that can destroy your health. When making an effort to avoid toxic chemicals and decrease your risk of illness and cancer, you may want to watch out for these familiar items that may be harboring danger.

12. Air Fresheners

Air Freshener

Air fresheners may be great for improving the smells of stinky bathrooms or musty closets, but they contain chemicals that can be irritants to your lungs. According to Poison Control, air fresheners release substances called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment. These compounds can combine with ozone in the air to form chemical pollutants that can be hazardous to your health. In addition to health risks associated with breathing these pollutants over time, they can also be dangerous if swallowed by small children. Poison Control states that air fresheners containing evaporating beads are especially dangerous, as the beads can remain in the intestinal tract and slowly release chemicals over a long period of time.

11. Antibacterial Soaps

Antibacterial Soap

Antibacterial soaps are products that are used in hopes of preventing illness and warding off infections. However, the chemicals contained in these soaps can have negative effects on your health. The FDA recommends avoiding the use of antibacterial soaps in order to curb the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that are not susceptible to traditional antibiotics. Since washing your hands with soap and warm water is just as effective at killing germs and preventing illness, there is no need to invest in antibacterial formulations. Ditching antibacterial soaps also prevents environmental contamination by the antibacterial chemicals they contain.

10. Antiperspirants and Deodorants


The trade-off for eliminating embarrassing sweat stains and odor may be damage to your health. Antiperspirants contain aluminum compounds, which hinder perspiration by blocking sweat ducts. The American Cancer Society reports that there is no definitive link found between antiperspirant use and breast cancer. Furthermore, rumors that aluminum-containing products like antiperspirants case Alzheimer’s disease have not been proven. However, if the thought of rubbing aluminum on your skin and risking the absorption of this chemical into your body makes you squeamish, you may want to opt for more natural deodorants.

9. Bug Sprays

Bug Sprays

It is probably not surprising that the chemicals that kill or deter bugs may be toxic to humans. DEET is the most common ingredient in bug repellents and is helpful for keeping away the mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas that can spread disease. The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry reports some cases where high use of DEET-containing products resulted in symptoms of chest pain, difficulty breathing, rash, and disorientation. In addition, some studies suggest that DEET may cause neurotoxicity. The CDC recommends that individuals strictly follow the directions on the label when using DEET-containing products. Avoid spraying bug repellents directly on the face, underneath clothing, or on cuts or wounds.

8. Cash Register Receipts

Cash Register Receipts

The innocuous-looking receipt the store clerk hands you may actually contain trace amounts of bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that may be harmful to humans. Some studies suggest BPA may be linked to high blood pressure, which then increases the risk of heart disease. Stanford Children’s Health reports that BPA may cause neurological and behavioral problems in developing babies, infants, and young children. While it is unknown how much BPA is absorbed through the skin from cash register receipts, you may want to skip taking receipts or have them sent to you electronically.

Related: 10 Foods That Are Linked to Cancer

7. Flame Retardants

Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are chemicals that are added to products such as clothing or furnishings in order to prevent the spread of flames in case of fire. They may be used on pajamas, mattresses, computer components, building materials, and bus seats. The National Institutes of Health reports that flame retardants may be linked to thyroid disorders, immune system diseases, neurological problems, and cancer. Because of these issues, many flame-resistant chemicals are no longer used. However, these chemicals can take a long time to break down and may remain in the environment for extended periods of time.

6. Household Cleaning Products


According to the American Lung Association, many household cleaners contain volatile organic compounds that can be irritating to the lungs if breathed. These compounds may be linked to nausea, asthma, central nervous system disorders, and even cancer. In addition to irritating the lungs, these chemicals can be harmful to the skin, causing allergic dermatitis or rash. Mixing ammonia and bleach is another danger of working with household cleaners. These two chemicals combine to form a poisonous concoction that can lead to lung damage and even death. Most household cleaning chores can be done safely and naturally using warm water and soap, baking soda and vinegar, and a little old-fashioned elbow grease.

5. Laundry Products

Laundry Detergent

A study by the University of Washington found many laundry products contained chemicals classified as toxic or hazardous according to federal laws. Furthermore, those chemicals weren’t always listed on the product labels. Additionally, laundry detergents often contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which may be linked to negative effects on health. While dryer sheets may help prevent wrinkles and keep your clothes smelling clean, they may be delivering more than just fresh scent. The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes that fragrances in household products, such as dryer sheets, may contain undisclosed VOCs that can be harmful to health.

Related: 17 Cancer-Causing Myths You Should Know

4. Non-Stick Cookware

Nonstick Cookware

The surfaces of some non-stick cookware prevent sticking through the use of a chemical called PTFE. This coating provides pans with a glossy surface that allows you to fry up an egg and slide it easily onto your plate. PTFE is not linked to causing cancer or other illnesses. However, a man-made chemical known as PFOA is used in the process of make PTFE. According to the American Cancer Society, PFOA is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” If you treasure your non-stick cookware, take care to not allow the pots or pans to overheat and release noxious fumes. While these fumes may not be directly linked to cancer, they can result in uncomfortable flu-like symptoms.

3. Microwave Popcorn

Microwave Popcorn

While microwave popcorn with its oily, chemical flavoring is definitely not a health food, the real danger may lurk in the packaging. Microwave popcorn bags are often coated with PFOA, the same possibly carcinogenic chemical used to manufacture non-stick pans. This coating prevents oil from leaking out of the popcorn bag and protects your microwave from a greasy mess. However, PFOA can leach into your popcorn where you munch it right along with the buttery flavoring. For popcorn without the risk of poisoning, stick to air-popping your kernels.

2. Perfumes or Body Sprays

Perfume Scents

We all like to smell good, but not at the risk of our health. Body sprays and perfumes may smell amazing, but many fragrances contain chemicals that may not be so pretty. Many scents and heavy perfumes can trigger allergic reactions when inhaled. This can result in headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Some fragrances can be irritants to the lung, triggering asthma attacks and respiratory distress.

1. Plastic Containers

Many plastic containers, including water bottles, takeout boxes, and food containers, may contain BPA. To prevent contamination of your food with this chemical, choose glass or porcelain containers for storing and reheating food. Never microwave your food in plastic containers or run these items through the dishwasher, where extreme heat can break them down. When purchasing reusable food containers or water bottles, search for products labeled as BPA-free.

Related: 12 Potentially Toxic Items to Keep Out of Your Bedroom


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