Toxins to Toss: 5 Harmful Chemicals in Your Everyday Life

When I started on my health journey years ago, my goal was to do everything I could to protect my family and ensure their health and wellbeing. With so many environmental toxins present in our everyday lives, it’s not easy and it can be overwhelming knowing where to start!  From the plastic containers we use to store food (hello takeout containers!), to the fragrances in our personal care and household products, and the pesticides on our lawns – there are many harmful toxins that we can unknowingly expose ourselves and our families to. 

Picture of a toxin-free front lawn with flowers and trees

Exposure to these chemicals during critical periods like pregnancy and raising young children can have lifelong consequences. In this post, I’m sharing the top five environmental toxins to avoid daily and giving you better alternatives to help you take small steps towards creating a healthier, safer home for you and your family. 

Understanding Toxins

Toxin is a word being thrown around a lot these days but what exactly is it? A toxin is a harmful substance that can cause damage to living organisms. These harmful substances can come from a variety of sources, such as chemicals, bacteria, and viruses. They can be found in many things from personal care items to cleaning products to gardening and lawn maintenance supplies. 

Toxins can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or contact with the skin, and can affect various systems within the body, including the respiratory, nervous, and reproductive systems. Exposure to toxins has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive issues. 

Since toxins are practically everywhere, it is so important to be aware of the potential toxins in our environment and take steps to avoid or reduce exposure when we can. Remember, control what you can like the things in and around your home but don’t stress over the things you can’t control. 

My Journey to a Toxic Free Home

Or I should say less toxic home since it is impossible to have a completely toxic free home. Like I pointed out before, they’re in everything. The goal is to reduce exposure and make better choices where we can NOT live in a bubble. 

When I started to become more aware of the potential toxins in my environment and how they could impact my health and fertility, one of the first changes I made was to switch to personal care and household products that didn’t contain undisclosed fragrances. It was shocking to learn that the fragrances in many products were actually made up of dozens of chemicals that aren’t required to be listed on the label. I started to research and look for products that were made with natural ingredients and didn’t contain hidden fragrances.

Picture of a pesticide-free green lawn

When my husband and I became home owners for the first time, we were adamant about not using any pesticides or lawn maintenance chemicals in our yard. While we didn’t have children at the time, we did have pets and knew it could lead to health issues. The soles of our feet and pets absorb what we walk on. Tip: don’t wear shoes in the house or you’ll drag in pesticides from other places into your home. There are alternative options to keep your lawn healthy that are natural and organic. 

By taking these small first steps, I felt like I was doing my part to create a healthier environment for myself and my family. It wasn’t always easy, but the more I learned, the more motivated I became to make changes. Today, I feel good about the choices I’ve made and hope that by sharing my experience, I can inspire you to make small changes that can make a big difference.

Five Toxins to Eliminate in Your Home

Plastics:

Plastics are everywhere in our daily lives, but they can contain harmful chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors. These chemicals can interfere with hormone production, which can have significant impacts on pregnancy and childhood development. 

Picture of glass food storage containers with bamboo lids, a safe and eco-friendly alternative to plastic

Instead, choose glass or stainless steel containers for food and drinks. If you have plastic storage containers and can’t switch them all out (I’m still slowly switching ours!) avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.

Undisclosed Fragrances:

Many personal care and household products contain undisclosed fragrances, which can contain a wide range of chemicals that are harmful to health, including phthalates, allergens, and neurotoxins. What is a neurotoxin? A neurotoxin is a type of toxin or poison that specifically targets the nervous system and disrupts its normal function. Neurotoxins can affect nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, and can cause a range of neurological symptoms and disorders depending on their severity and the areas of the nervous system they affect. 

Image of a homemade natural cleaning solution made with vinegar and lemon

Look for products that list all their ingredients and avoid those with undisclosed fragrances. Undisclosed fragrance is usually listed as “fragrance” or “parfum” with no detailed list of what’s in that fragrance. Stick to fragrance free products or products that use well sourced essential oils for fragrance. Make your own household cleaners using essential oils for fragrance.

Store receipts:

Thermal paper used in store receipts can contain bisphenol A (BPA), which can be absorbed through the skin. 

Whenever possible, choose digital receipts or ask for receipts to be emailed to you. If you must handle receipts, avoid touching them with bare hands and wash your hands with soap and water afterward. Don’t let your little ones touch or play with receipts. 

Pesticides:

Pesticides are commonly used in lawn care and  home maintenance, but they can contain harmful chemicals that can be dangerous to pregnant women and young children. 

Instead, consider using lawn care products that do not contain harmful chemicals like Sunday

Non-Stick Cookware:

Non-stick cookware contains a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which can be released into food during cooking. PFOA has been linked to reproductive problems and developmental delays in children. 

Picture of stainless steel pots, a safer option for cooking than non-stick pans

Instead, choose stainless steel, ceramic or cast-iron cookware, which are safe alternatives to non-stick cookware. If you have non-stock cookware but can’t replace them yet, replace one by one as you see the first chip or scratch in the non-stick coating. 

We all want to provide the best possible environment for our families, and part of that process should include avoiding harmful toxins in everyday life. By being mindful of the products you use and choosing safer alternatives, you can protect your family’s health and well-being. Remember to avoid undisclosed fragrances, choose BPA-free and phthalate-free plastics, and opt for safer alternatives to pesticides and non-stick cookware. 

While it’s important to be aware of potential environmental chemicals and take steps to avoid them, it’s also important not to overwhelm yourself or become overly obsessive about it. Taking small steps, such as switching to non-toxic household cleaners or reducing your use of plastic products, can go a long way in reducing your exposure to harmful toxins. Remember to be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time. By making small changes, you can create a healthier environment for you and your family.

Sources:

  1. Adu-Gyamfi, E. A., Rosenfeld, C. S., & Tuteja, G. (2022). The impact of bisphenol A on the placenta. Biology of Reproduction, 106(5), 826–834. https://doi.org/10.1093/biolre/ioac001 
  2. Cediel-Ulloa, A., Lupu, D. L., Johansson, Y., Hinojosa, M., Özel, F., & Rüegg, J. (2022). Impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals on neurodevelopment: The need for better testing strategies for endocrine disruption-induced developmental neurotoxicity. Expert Review of Endocrinology & Metabolism, 17(2), 131–141. https://doi.org/10.1080/17446651.2022.2044788 
  3. Harmful BPA replacements contaminate store receipts. Environmental Working Group. (2023, April 24). Retrieved April 29, 2023, from https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/2020/12/harmful-bpa-replacements-contaminate-store-receipts 
  4. Pfas and developmental and reproductive toxicity: (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2023, from https://www.ewg.org/sites/default/files/u352/EWG_PFAS_Toxicity_C02.pdf 
  5. Steinemann, A. C. (2009). Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 29(1), 32–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2008.05.002

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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

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Welcome! It is so great to have you here. As a Certified Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant, my mission is to support you in achieving a healthy pregnancy. Whether you are ready to prepare your body for pregnancy, aiming for a smooth and healthy nine months, or seeking support in your postpartum recovery. I also help parents and their young children embrace nutritious eating and a healthy lifestyle. I provide practical advice and support to help you meet your goals: from getting your body ready for pregnancy, to enjoying a healthy pregnancy journey, and nurturing your children’s well-being. As a mom myself, I’ve gone through it and I understand your aspirations and the hurdles you might face. Let’s partner together to create a healthy journey into parenthood.