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Detoxing Your Home: Understanding And Eliminating Environmental Toxins

Detoxing has become an inevitable part of our lifestyle. At least once every month, we all do a detox to get rid of the internal toxins from our body. However, many of us tend to overlook the fact that the toxins that harm our health are not just located within our system, but around us also.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the air in homes and other buildings is usually more polluted than the air outdoors [1] . Yes, the most critical of the toxins are found around us - right in our homes. Introduction of new chemicals into the market on a daily basis can be attributed to the above mentioned.

Each and every object in your home, from your mattresses, floors, furniture to your cosmetics contain several different types of toxins [2] . A recent study on environmental toxins pointed out that harmful substances such as phenols and flame retardants are present in the dust in our homes - indicating the need to detox your home off of the chemicals by adopting toxin-free approaches [3] . Because change starts with you! In order to create a better and healthier environment, you need to be the example first. Therefore, read on to know more about the environmental toxins present in your households and the ways to get rid of them.

Toxins In Your Household

An average household contains between 500 to 1000 different types of toxins, in which some cannot even be felt or seen. Most of the harmful toxins present in your household are invisible to the human eyes, therefore resulting in many thinking that their house is devoid of any toxins [4] . The environmental toxins in your homes are accumulated from a wide range of building materials and household products.

The microscopic chemicals present all around you can have long-term negative impacts on your health [4] . These toxins can cause poor memory and concentration, erratic behaviour, word confusion, mood issues, headaches, vertigo among various other health problems.

Now, you need to be aware of the means through which the harmful toxins are entering your body. It could be from the things that you least expect [5] .

Household products: Air fresheners, polishing agents, cleaning powders, surface cleaners, and insecticides. Although these products help you keep your house fresh and clean, the chemical residue it leaves behind is extremely harmful to your health. Air purifiers are one of the biggest producers of environmental toxins inside the house [6] .

Hygiene and beauty products: Deodorants, perfume and cologne, soap (including antibacterial soap) and detergent, make-up and cosmetics, mouthwash and toothpaste, moisturiser and sunscreen, shampoo and other hair care products, and nail polish and nail polish remover. Almost all of these products contain toxic chemicals.

Substances: Some of the other means through which your household gets polluted is through the use of a substance such as drugs, cigarette and even alcohol. The smoke produced from smoking marijuana can result in decreased blood flow to the hippocampus, hampering with one's learning and basic cognitive abilities.

Likewise, consuming alcohol will destroy your brain cells and cause it to shrink in size, increasing the risks of dementia [7] . This also causes reduced blood flow to the brain, resulting in inflammatory bowel disease, nerve pain, liver failure and cancer [8] .

Mould: This is one of the major contributors to environmental toxins in your house. Exposure to mould is extremely dangerous to your brain and its functions. In normal cases, mould causes sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and skin irritation. In severe cases, it can cause decreased neurological function including memory loss, noticeable personality changes and difficulty concentrating [9] , [10] .

Apart from the above mentioned, let us take a deeper look into the specific areas in your house and the toxins found in those areas [11] , [12] , [13] .

1. Bedroom

The mattresses you sleep on are one of the major contributors to environmental toxins. Foam mattresses including baby and children's mattresses may hold toxic flame retardants. Upon being released, it can negatively impact one's immune system.

Your electronics are no different because, the blue lights produced from the screens can slow down the production of melatonin and leaks out toxic metals such as beryllium, lead, mercury, arsenic, and barium. The carpeting you use contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a highly toxic chemical which gets released into the air.

2. Bathroom

Almost each and every corner in your bathroom is subjected to toxin assault. The area under the sink, the toilet, toothbrushes, the floor and the cosmetics you use are all homes to environmental toxins (biological pollutants). The viruses and bacteria such as flu virus, E. coli, oral herpes, Staphylococci or Staph bacteria and Porphyromonas gingivalis released from your faecal matter linger in the air and gets attached to toothbrushes.

The sink drains facilitate the growth of a fungus called Fusarium which can cause various infections. Shower curtains, floors, and walls can also contain biological pollutants like fungus, mould etc. Likewise, the bathroom floors are also home to germs, dirt, and harmful toxins of all types.

3. Kitchen

Food-related pollutants are a common cause of toxins. Also, when grocery bags, mail, keys, purses, and various household products come in contact with areas in the kitchen, they tend to become the carriers of toxins. Food-related bacteria are also found on many kitchen utensils and gadgets as well. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, microwaves have been restructured to be safe. However, the radiation produced, even in the slightest variation are harmful.

4. Outdoors

The space outside your home is also a host to various toxins which makes way into your house through openings and ventilation. The toxins can be from paint, paint thinners, auto fluids, pesticides etc.

Ways To Toxic Cleanse Your Household

Environmental pollutants and toxins are causal agents of severe health problems. However, they can harm you only if you let them. There are various measures through which you can eliminate these environmental pollutants from your household.

The toxins cause serious health effects when they are allowed to be accumulated because the number of toxins plays a central role in affecting the human body. That is, the poison is in the dose [14] . Prolonged and excessive exposure to the toxins can result in the development of severe health issues ranging from migraine to cancer.

There are various ways through which you can cleanse your household from the environmental pollutants [15] , [16] .

1. Switch from chemicals to green

The first and foremost step to be adopted in detoxifying your household is to shift from the standard household cleaning products to cleaner and greener ones. Natural home remedies for cleaning not only do their work but also protects you from falling victim to the harsh chemicals in the store-bought brands. Below are the green substitutes for store-bought cleaners.

For toilets: 1 cup baking soda and 2 cups white vinegar. Pour the baking soda into the toilet first and then pour the vinegar. Once the reaction settles down, scrub the toilet with a toilet brush.

For kitchen sinks: 1 cup baking soda and 3-4 drops tea tree or peppermint essential oil. Place the baking soda in a bowl and add few drops of tea tree or peppermint essential oil. Take it in a sponge or a cloth to get rid of the stain.

Natural air purifiers: Toxic chemicals such as trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene can be eradicated from your house with the help of certain types of plants. The natural method will help reduce and control the chemical levels and provide a healthy environment.

You can use plants such as aloe vera, purple waffle plant, golden pothos, rubber plant, areca palm, peace lily, money plant, English ivy and spider plant to detoxify the air in your home [17] .

Beauty care and personal products: Finding natural alternatives for skin care and hygiene is the easiest. With plenty of herbs and plants offering various benefits to your skin and hair, you can choose from a wide range of options. You can reduce the exposure to toxins by checking the labels on hygiene and beauty products so as to avoid the chemicals [18] such as the following:

  • Chlorine
  • Ammonia
  • DBP (Dibutyl phthalate)
  • Mica
  • Triclosan
  • Fluoride
  • Coal tar dye (P-phenylenediamine)
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • BHA/BHT (Butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • DEA (Diethanolamine)
  • PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)
  • SLS/SLES (Sodium laureth sulphate)
  • BHA/BHT (Butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • Formaldehyde (DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea)

Others: Use fresh flowers or bowls of herbs like rosemary and sage to add a pleasant fragrance to rooms. The same goes for pet care items. Make sure you pick products that do not contain the above-mentioned chemicals or better yet, opt for natural pet care products which are easily available in shops. Instead of pesticides, you can use natural or herbal sprays on plants to repel the insects and pests [19] .

Switch to organic vegetables and fruits and, scrub and wash them thoroughly before consumption. One of the other ways is to grow your own vegetables [20] .

2. Reduce plastic

One of the best ways to limit environmental pollutants is by decreasing the use of plastic. Switch to cloth or jute bags when you go shopping and always carry a cloth bag with you. Switch to stainless steel and porcelain containers, glasses and mugs. If you are using plastic, make sure it is in a controlled manner and do not add to the existing number.

Most plastics contain Bisphenol A (BPA) which may cause cancer. Do not wrap food in plastic, do not microwave food in plastic containers, and avoid buying plastic shower curtains [21] .

While buying feeding bottles for your infant, choose glass bottles or ones that are BPA-free plastic and do not buy children's toys that are marked with a '3' or 'PVC'.

3. Avoid non-stick pans

Cooking pots and utensils sprayed with the non-stick coating (Teflon) because it contains perfluorinated chemicals that are linked to cancer as well as developmental problems. These treated synthetic materials can be extremely harmful [22] .

4. Ventilate your household

Always makes sure to keep the air inside your home clean. Open the windows and doors as much as you can, so that there is proper ventilation. Place plants inside your house and clean the air ducts and vents regularly with non-toxic cleaners. And do not smoke [23] .

5. Avoid moisture accumulation

Mould is one of the major causes of environmental toxins within your house. Excess moisture can pave the way for the growth of mould and mildew. So, check for leaks or water accumulation in your house around the pipelines, showers and tubs and beneath sinks [20] .

6. Use water filters

Drinking water is one other major source of environmental toxins. Filter the water used for consumption (more than 700 chemicals) as well as other uses. It is smart to get a shower filter as it can help prevent the toxins from becoming airborne (contaminants in tap water become gases at room temperature).

7. Avoid stain-guarded products

Due to the presence of perfluorinated compounds, it is best to avoid stain-guarded clothing, furniture and carpets. Although they are easy and comfortable for use, the formaldehyde in these products increases the level of environmental pollutants. Use natural fibre wool and cotton rugs. If possible, opt for hardwood floors instead of carpeting [22] .

8. Limit overall consumption

The most effective way to limit the build-up of environmental toxins is to limit household consumption. More the consumption, the greater the waste [24] . Control the way you use and consume household products that can pave way for the development of environmental toxins. Understand the possible alternatives to toxic chemicals in everyday home products, so that your health will not be constantly impacted by the harmful chemicals [25] . If you can successfully reduce and limit your consumption, then you can cause a significant impact in eliminating environmental toxins from your household.

On A Final Note...

It has become difficult in recent times to maintain a completely healthy lifestyle due to the elevated level of chemicals and toxins used in each and every other product available for our daily consumption. However, there are sustainable and effective means through which you can reduce the level of toxins, especially in your household. Make sure you adopt the step to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

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