Each June, the National Safety Council celebrates a month of safety awareness and preparedness in an effort to educate and inform the public about the leading causes of preventable injuries and death in America.
This year’s National Safety Month is themed “Safety Starts with Me,” and marks the 100th year since the founding of the NSC. Since 1913, the NSC has been working to build a safety culture in all areas of life—at work, on the road, and most importantly, in the home.
The home is supposed to be a safe place, but statistics repeatedly show that thousands of people are injured and killed every year by accidents that could have been easily prevented. The causes of these injuries range anywhere from a candle-related fire to a raised step that leads to a slip and fall accident. But perhaps the greatest danger in your home is also the most unseen—toxic chemicals.
In support of National Safety Month, here are 10 toxic items in your home that should be thrown out:
5. Non-stick Cookware
Anyone who cooks frequently can understand the frustration of scraping burnt food off pots and pans, which is why non-stick cookware has been a popular addition to the kitchen since the 1960s. Unfortunately, we’ve since learned that the chemical that prevents food from sticking to the metal—polytetrafluoroethylene (better known as PTFE)—releases toxic gases when heated. The toxins are known to cause cancer, organ failure, reproductive failure, and other damaging side effects.
If you must use Teflon pans treated with PTFE, avoid cooking at high temperatures. Instead, use low or medium heat, which does not trigger the release of harmful gases.
4. Plastic Bottles
The dangers of plastic bottles are blamed on three letters: BPA. BPA is a man-made compound that has negative health effects on anything endocrine-related—metabolism, hormones, sleep, mood, tissue development, etc. When plastic bottles experience heat or are reused, BPA leaches into the liquid and contaminates the drink.
Instead, use stainless steel or glass bottles.
3. Conventional Cleaners
Conventional household cleaners like Comet, Ajax, and Clorox have long been known to be killers. These substances may rid your home of dirt, dust, and grime, but they fill it instead with compounds that are even worse—ammonia being the most common. A few natural and toxic-free replacements include: SimpleGreen, Bon Ami, and of course, the tried and true cleaning solution of baking soda and vinegar.
2. Air Fresheners
That small puff of mist that comes out of your air freshener isn’t harmless. The same chemicals used in air fresheners to keep your home smelling good can also aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma. Instead, try opening a window or boiling water with a couple drops of an essential oil.
1. Antibacterial Products
You might think that hand-sanitizers and antibacterial soaps help reduce sickness by killing germs, but in fact it does the opposite. Antibacterial chemicals, such as Triclosan, accumulate in the human body, which can lead to a stunted immune system and strains of “super germs.”
Rather than worry about making your home germ free, a better goal is to make your home clean. Household germs actually help children’s immune system develop so they can resist viruses later in life. There are plenty of clean, eco-friendly hand wash products out there that are safe and effective.
As the NSC says, creating a safe environment in your home starts with you. So celebrate National Safety Month by taking steps against toxic exposure in your home.