Hidden hazards in household products

May 5, 2013

Are there hidden hazards in your home? Are you bringing in other substances that are unknowingly causing us harm? On this week’s Take Care, Sloan Barnett, a New York Times bestselling author and consumer reporter, talks about the potential harm in everyday household products like cleaners,  deodorizers, and even makeup --  as well as her personal experience with converting her home to a more natural, heath conscious environment.

Click 'Read More...' to hear our interview with Sloan Barnett.

Barnett says that air pollution is often two to five times worse than the air pollution outside of your home. Sloan started researching toxins that are found in products commonly used around the house when her young sign was diagnosed with asthma. Her family had no history of the disease, so she began investigating possible environmental causes.

Now, Barnett advocates slowly making small changes in your own home could make a big impact in the long run. She first suggests taking a large trash bag around your house and disposing of all the products that say “danger” or “poison” on them. Next, throw away any cleaning products with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

But, if you don’t feel you can make the change that quickly, Barnett says you can ease yourself into a less chemical lifestyle. Replace one product at a time. Instead of spraying air freshener, open a window. And for those concerned with sacrificing effectiveness for healthiness, she points out that non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners in most cases will do just as good, if not a better, a job than the conventional cleaners.

“It’s really a matter of getting used to not smelling the pine, cinnamon, oranges you’re used to in those cleaners, and getting ready for clean-clean, as I call it,” she said.

Barnett also points to food and cosmetics as common sources of what she says are toxic hazards in the home.

“We are consuming four to five pounds of lipstick every year,” Barnett says. “Of the nearly 400 products sold in the U.S. they contain chemicals that are prohibited use in cosmetics outside this country. We are not testing; we are not doing our job in this country of testing what we expose our citizens to.”

She also recommends watching out for harmful products in food.

“Most of the food that we eat has been treated, or injected with synthetic chemicals you know, and that starts at the beginning, right? From the seed to the table,” she said. “Pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, preservatives, you name it.” She suggests staying away from the center of the grocery store where the processed food is and to try your best to look for the USDA Organic label and locally grown dairy and meats.

Speaking from personal experience, Barnett recognizes the magnitude of changing to live a healthier lifestyle free of toxins can be daunting. But she says, “It’s about doing the best you can. It’s not about black or white. I think the minute you phrase it that way, people give up… But instead, try to live somewhere in the middle. Try to do without the things you can easily give up… Really, it’s one day at a time. Take one step today to a healthier life and you will be doing yourself a great service.”