7 Ways to Outsmart Airborne Pollutants and Chemical Contaminants Lurking in Your Home
February 15th, 2015 by Holly Cornish
If you took a health sweep of the average house, you’d find over 500 chemicals lurking there in the air, on the furniture, across the floors – virtually everywhere. In view of what we’ve learned here at Cancer Defeated about the cancer-causing effects of toxins, it’s vital to get them out of your home.
We’ve devoted this issue to seven easy, natural ways to do that. . .
The Ancient Memory-Boosting
Secret of Chinese Emperors
A note from Lee Euler
Our best-selling book Awakening from Alzheimer’s featured an ancient Chinese secret for boosting memory. Now I’m happy to tell you we have a recommended source for this supplement if you wish to try it.
I’ve been taking it myself, and I can feel the results. I’m thinking faster and more clearly than I have in years. This is definitely not one of the supplements where you take it and “nothing happens.”
So, what is this stuff? In ancient China, the emperor was believed to be the son of heaven. One of the perks of the job was that he was the only one allowed to eat a certain medicinal mushroom that was said to give him “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion.”
Now modern science has confirmed this mushroom’s remarkable benefits. If you’d like to reap the benefits for yourself click here now…
1. Swap that “fresh laundry scent” for a smell that won’t kill you.
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets may make your towels and clothes smell good, but they’re laden with chemicals that correlate with cancer risk — including benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer), chloroform (a neurotoxin), and limonene (a carcinogen).
Throw your dryer sheets and fabric softeners away, and say no to any detergent with bleach, dyes, fragrances, and masking agents. Instead, use 100% non-toxic, biodegradable laundry products. Plant-based enzymes and food-based detergents are the best choices. Check out vinegar – I’ve heard wonderful things about it as a laundry cleanser. And personally, I use benzoyl peroxide on whites instead of chlorine bleach. It works just fine. It might also be safe on color clothes; I haven’t tested it.
If you want fragrance, put some drops of aromatherapy essential oils on a wet washcloth and throw it in the dryer with your clothes. Lavender or sweet orange work well for this – if you like the scent, of course. I’m quite happy with fragrance-free clothing. For more in-depth information about detergents, see Issue #133.
2. Let Mother Nature filter your indoor air.
Much as you try to avoid them, there’s a good chance you have toxic chemicals in the air throughout your home. They’re introduced into your environment in a variety of ways, from air fresheners to scented candles to the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) lurking under your carpet and in building materials, especially the composite faux woods often used in cabinets and counter tops.
What do we mean by “volatile”? It means the chemicals, when they’re present in a solid like plastic or in a liquid such as a cleaning fluid, are not stable and easily turn into a gas. They get in the air quickly and we wind up breathing these cancer-causing toxins. The problem is similar to secondhand smoke.
A major source of VOCs is molded plastic, which is all over the place. It gives off gases, especially when heated, as in television sets and computers.
Personally, I have a very severe reaction to VOCs, so this is a big issue for me. I don’t have to wait 20 years to see if I get cancer. They make me sick in about 20 minutes.
Arranging gorgeous greenery around your house is a cheap, attractive, and efficient way to protect yourself from airborne carcinogens. You can feel better and avoid health risks with a few well-placed house plants. Top picks for removing contaminants like benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide include rubber plants, philodendrons, Boston ferns, and peace lilies. See Issue #296 for more on house plants as air purifiers.
3. Ditch the artificial scents.
It’s tempting to want to fill your home with pleasing fragrance, especially when those scents are marketed with names like “apple cinnamon pie” or “blue summer sky.” But regardless of whether you buy scents in candle or air freshener form, many brands deliver a steady stream of scented formaldehyde right into your air.
Long-term exposure causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, and early evidence shows constant formaldehyde exposure may boost your risk of nose and lung cancer. Purge your house of scented candles, plug-in room deodorizers, and any potpourri or scented sprays that aren’t homemade.
Opt instead to refresh your indoor air with homemade air-purifying essential oils. Beeswax candles are also a good alternative.
4. Toss the brand-name cleaners.
Loads of consumer cleaning products out there are touted as “safe,” yet they’re chock full of questionable and carcinogenic chemicals. Your best bet is to skip them all. Anything with an ingredient list beyond a third-grade reading level isn’t worth your time (or health).
Save money and your health at the same time by going natural when you clean. You can’t beat white vinegar and baking soda for most cleanup needs, and they’re a lot cheaper than the name-brand stuff. Switching to these two non-toxic cleaners will drastically lower the risk of toxic residue around your house.
5. Make a no-shoes-allowed rule for your home.
Much as I wish it weren’t true, our outside environment is overwhelmed with contaminants and pesticides. That means every time you walk outside, you risk walking through toxins and tracking them into your home on your shoes.
This is especially true if someone enters your house after walking through a freshly-fertilized lawn or down a path where weed-killer has been sprayed. These contaminants stick to your shoes. Once you walk inside your house, you risk spreading them throughout the carpet and flooring.
Wiping your shoes on a welcome mat is not enough. You can wipe as much as you want, and dirt – much less sticky chemicals – will still remain.
Instead, make a standing rule that anyone entering your house is required to remove their shoes. This goes for delivery persons and service providers as well. If others are uncomfortable removing their shoes, have a box of foot scrubs – like the kinds surgeons wear on their feet – at the ready.
I admit it’s awkward to ask a plumber or repair man to remove his shoes, but most will comply without a fuss.
There’s an added advantage to a no-shoes policy: carpeting stays much cleaner and lasts much longer. Your carpets will look good as new for years longer than those in a home where shoes are allowed.
6. Check home radon levels.
Radon is an indoor air hazard that’s responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It’s also the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and rocks deep beneath earth’s surface. As the gas moves up, it could potentially seep through cracks in the foundation of your home.
Radon becomes a health hazard when it’s trapped indoors and builds to dangerous levels. Everyone is at risk; it doesn’t matter whether your house is old or new, in the good part of town, or out in the sticks. What matters is what lies under your house and whether it’s working its way toward the surface.
The only way to find out if you have a radon problem is to test. You can get a do-it-yourself kit from your local home improvement store. If you find your level above 2pCi/L, you’ll want to bring in a qualified professional to install a vent pipe in your home. It’s that easy, but you have to take the effort to test. For more information about radon, check out Issue #117.
7. Don’t let your water run dirty.
Your average glass of water from the tap could be polluted with any of 2,100 contaminants. They come from many sources, including pesticides, fertilizer, factory farms, regular factories, metals, chemicals leaching from pipes, and storage tanks. The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act only addresses 79 of the potential 2,100 contaminants. On top of that, many of our water treatment plants are old and outdated.
If you use well water, you’re not immune to problems. Well water may contain microorganisms, radon, nitrates and nitrites, and heavy metals. Farm runoff may also be a source of contamination and is a growing problem. Exposure to contaminated water sources could lead to bladder cancer and other health problems.
Bottled water is not the ideal solution. The price is high, both in terms of dollars you pay and plastic pollution. I’d advise you instead to use some form of filtration system to reduce your exposure to contaminants. Most pollutants can be drastically reduced or eliminated with the right filter.
But first, take the time to test what’s coming out of your tap. Send it to National Testing Laboratories, Ltd., of Cleveland, Ohio (with testing labs in Ypsilanti, Michigan). They’re known to be a high quality organization, and they’ll test both city and well water. Once you know what kind of pollution you’re dealing with, you can start shopping for the appropriate filtration system. See Issue #278 for more detailed tips about purchasing a water filter.
Lee Euler, Publisher