Sometimes it seems that making healthy choices is a burden. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with that healthy choice list that you “should” do, but can’t fit into your life. Trying to fit more “healthy” into your life can feel like trying to fit into that pencil skirt after the holidays. Fortunately, you can make powerful yet simple changes today that will reduce your exposure to nasty additives, making it easier to live well at home.
8 Simple Changes to Live Healthier at Home
Here’s a list of 8 changes you can make today, with little effort. No shopping needed. In fact, some might actually save you some time.
1. Stop Using Scented Candles
Perfumed candles have a few strikes against them. First, most candle makers use paraffin, a chemically-bleached petroleum by-product. When you burn paraffin, it pollutes your air.
Second, candle makers use synthetic perfumes to scent candles. Neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) aggressively regulates these synthetic perfumes. As a result, you have no way of knowing what’s being released into your air. Perfumes can contain any one of 3,000 or more ingredients many toxic and unregulated. Some fragrances contain phthalates and other substances known to cause cancer and disrupt hormones.
The third strike against perfumed candles are the wicks. Some manufacturers make candles with wicks that contain lead. By avoiding scented candles, you can improve your indoor air quality and breathe easier. Healthier substitutes are available.
2. Toss Scratched Kitchen Plastic
If you’re still using plastic in your kitchen, take a look at your collection. You probably have more than you think if you include plastic storage containers, drinking cups, water bottles, cooking utensils, and other plastic. Chances are that your kitchen plastic is scratched from use.
Consider tossing your scratched and worn kitchen plastic into the recycling bin. The scratches may make it more likely that plastic toxins can leach into your food and drink. Plus anything hot can also cause a transfer of plastic materials into your food. Not exactly appetizing, or safe.
Plastic has a way of accumulating in a kitchen, so you probably won’t even miss the items you toss, and you’ll be healthier. Learn more about plastic alternatives.
3. Avoid the Self-Cleaning Oven Feature
You may think that using the self-cleaning setting on your oven is a brilliant solution because it cleans without oven cleaner.
Unfortunately, the self-cleaning oven can fill your house with pollutants. When your oven reaches over 600 degrees, it can start emitting nasty fumes. These fumes come from your oven’s interior coating off-gassing or residual food burning and releasing carbon monoxide. Neither is good.
While it is well documented that pet birds can succumb to self-cleaning oven fumes, it’s unclear how toxic the fumes are to humans, with the exception of carbon monoxide.
Why risk it?
You know when you use the self-cleaning feature, your house fills with fumes that last for hours. Do you really want to breathe that?
Learn how to safely clean your oven without the dangerous fumes. It won’t consume more time. And, the benefit is much cleaner and healthier indoor air.
4. Open Your Windows
One of the simplest things you can do to make your home healthier is to open your windows.
Why? Because indoor air is dirtier than outdoor air. Airing out your house periodically will improve the air you breathe. EPA studies confirm that indoor air pollutants are typically 2-5 times higher than outdoor air.
How does indoor air get so polluted? It’s pretty simple. Your household furnishings and daily activities release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). And then to make matters worse, most of the time you’ve got your windows closed trapping pollutants inside.
So, what is to blame for all the VOCs in your bedroom?
Here’s a partial list: carpets, paint, wall coverings, fabrics, scented candles, air fresheners, perfumes, pressed wood furniture, polyurethane foam furniture, adhesives, and showering.
One of the main indoor air polluting culprits is formaldehyde. Tests show formaldehyde in homes is 20-200 times higher than outdoor suburban air.
If it’s not practical to open your windows, you’ve got other options like an air cleaner that will purr gently, cleaning your air while you sleep. The top rated air cleaner is ideal for removing 99.97% of airborne dust, mold, formaldehyde, bacteria, viruses, pet dander, and pollen.
5. Stop Using Air Fresheners
If you only do one thing on this list, stop using air fresheners. Because government regulators like the CPSC have banned only a handful of hazardous chemicals, your air freshener can contain dangerous toxins. For example, the Environmental Working Group tested Febreze Air Effects and found 89 airborne contaminants including acetaldehyde which the EPA considers a likely human carcinogen.
In 2010, a University of Washington study found that eight widely used air fresheners released an average of 18 chemicals into the air. On average, one in five of these chemicals were hazardous substances. In addition, half the air fresheners tested released acetaldehyde, a likely carcinogen.
It’s frightening, isn’t it? By using air fresheners, you are releasing carcinogens and hormone disruptors into your home.
6. Toss Non-Stick Cookware
Non-stick cookware can release dangerous fumes if overheated. There’s actually a name for the flu-like symptoms. It’s called Polymer Fume Fever in humans. Overheated non-stick cookware fumes are sometimes fatal to birds.
You should try to avoid any type of non-stick cookware like pans, pie tins, and cupcake tins. And, don’t forget the cookie sheets. Non-stick pans that are scratched or worn may be more likely to release hazardous fumes and leach into your food, so consider tossing those items now.
Try these other great ways to cook without the worry or risk.
- Stainless Steel (actually better for cooking than non-stick)
- Cast Iron
- Ceramic Baking Dishes
- Glass Baking and Pie Dishes
7. Don’t Microwave in Plastic
Heating plastic in a microwave may result in more toxins leaching into your food. Find other options for safer microwaving. Use glass or ceramic and cover it with a paper towel rather than plastic.
You also may want to consider warming food on your stove or in the oven.
8. Air Out Dry Cleaning
The last simple change is about reducing your exposure to dry cleaning chemicals. Most dry cleaners use Perchlorethylene (PERC). Did you know that PERC is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin?
It’s true. And, a Georgetown University study proved PERC is retained in dry-cleaned clothes. One way to reduce the amount of PERC in your bedroom closet is to remove the dry cleaning bags and air out the clothes in a well-ventilated area before hanging in your closet.
You can also opt for the “press only” option in some cases instead of using full dry cleaning services.
Want to learn more about reducing toxins in your home and making the best choices for you and your family? Sign up for our 12-week e-course called The Zen of Pure Living. Each week, you’ll get a short email with important information and easy steps you can take.