Toxins in The Home

You can’t avoid chemicals; sadly, the world is laden with them. Unless you built a chemical free, toxin free home, your house is full of them. If you have a safe home, consider yourself blessed. But even if you do have a safe home, the rest of the world is full of office buildings, stores, medical offices, and houses that are built with traditional products that off gas chemicals that are hazardous to your health.

People are spending more time than ever before indoors. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that people spend 90% of their time indoors and that indoor air quality can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. With the advent of air tight homes and commercial buildings this information is probably not a surprise to anyone. But what may be surprising is the amount of toxins found in an average home.

So what are the common chemicals found in the home?

PBDE’s -These chemicals are a double edged sword. While the Western U.S. was grateful for all of the firefighting efforts this year, the plain fact is polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are used in flame retardants are building up rapidly in people’s bodies. PBDEs are also found in many appliances and fabrics.

Phthalates-These chemicals have a wide range of uses. They are used in numerous products such as providing a smooth texture to lotions, to keeping baby teething rings soft. In lab animals this chemical has caused numerous problems in sexual development of males

Pesticides-While DDT was banned nationwide in 1972, many other pesticides have come to take its place. You can buy a pesticide to kill anything from cockroaches, to ants and more. Along with the long list of things pesticides can kill, is a long list of illness it can cause or contribute to such as asthma, neurological, developmental and immunological problems.

PFAs-Used in non stick cookware, and other scratch and stain resistant cookware, this chemical takes years for the body to eliminate. The 3M Corporation phased out perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), the main ingredient in Scotchguard, after it was found to pervade the environment. Perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) is still being used in fabrics and to make non stick pans.

PCBs-Since they were difficult to catch or set aflame Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were commonly used in coolants and electrical systems. They are also extremely durable, they don’t break down in the environment, and they build up in both human and animal tissue. Their effects include cancer and liver damage in lab animals. Although they are now banned they remain pervasive in the environment.

Dioxins-This chemical is similar in toxicity to PCBs. Dioxins result from fires and industrial activities. They enter the food chain in contaminated areas and build up in human and animal fat.

Bisphenols-Polycarbonate plastics found in some hard plastic bottles are made with bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that over time will leach into the liquid the bottle contains. Researchers have found evidence in lab animals that this estrogen mimic causes reproductive harm to both male and female fetuses.

Metals-Toxic metals are some of the most common industrial poisons in the home. These metals are found in numerous products such as lead paint, tuna which contains mercury, wooden decks or garden boxes built with pressure treated wood (arsenic). The effects on young children can be severely profound, with a range of subtle developmental delays to death.


Where These Chemicals are Found in the Home?
Bedroom /Bathroom

PBDEs: Foam pillow, mattresses, seat cushions, hair dryer, telephone

Pesticides: Antimicrobial soaps, , a pets flea collar

Metals: Lead paint

Phthalates: Shower curtains, nail polish, shampoo, perfume, deodorant, lotion, soap, hair spray, medicines, vinyl flooring, toothpaste, plastic toys.



Living Room

PBDEs: Sofa cushions, seat cushions, electronic devices (tv, computer, etc) carpets, carpet padding, electronic games, pet bedding.

Bisphenols: Extension cords, wallpaper, window blinds

Pesticides: Tracked indoors from shoes, drifting from open windows, pet flea collars

PFAs: Furniture fabric, lining of microwave popcorn bags




Kitchen /Dining Room

Phthalates: Plastic containers and bottles, some plastic food wraps, vinyl flooring.

Dioxins: Fatty meats, dairy foods, and fish

PCBs: Food

Metals: Mercury contaminated fish, lead paint

Bisphenols: Plastic containers, lining of canned foods

PFAs: Nonstick cookware

PBDEs: Coffee maker, blender, microwave, toaster




Metals: Pressure treated woods (arsenic and chromium), power plant emissions (mercury).

Pesticides: Lawn and garden

Dioxins: Grilled fatty meats, fish.




References: PCB’s Cause Cancer PCB’s Alter Brain Development Products Containing PBDEs


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My Health Maven offers information on a wholistic approach to healthy lifestyle choices.