A Guide to Common Toxic Chemicals Lurking In Your Home

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It’s been well over 5 years since I’ve started to focus on the products that I used for personal care and around the home. I have extremely sensitive skin and the older I got the more I noticed that the products I used would have a huge impact on the health of my skin. Many are unaware of the amount of toxins that exist in everyday household products. On average, your typical household cleaner is made up of over 62 chemicals. There is a large amount of evidence which links the exposure to a variety of pollutants and chemicals to long-term health complications. It’s important to know; there are roughly, 80,000 chemicals registered in the United States. Only 200 of those 80,000 chemicals have been tested for potential health effects. Despite its required federal regulation policy, just five of the 80,000 chemicals registered in the United States have been regulated. 

These statistics are incredibly alarming for households with developing children. Since the early 1990’s, reported cases of autism spectrum disorder have increased substantially. Studies link early chemical exposure to certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and developmental and learning disabilities. One hundred thirty-three million people in the U.S. – almost half of all American’s are currently living with some form of a chronic disease or conditions that account to 70% of deaths and 75% of health costs.  

Identifying common household chemicals isn’t always easy because labeling of toxic ingredients is currently not a requirement in the United States. We’ve compiled a short list of common household chemicals. We hope that with this list, you become more alert and aware when purchasing products containing these specific ingredients.  

 Common Toxic Chemicals 

Ammonia - Polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks and jewelry; also in glass cleaner. Because ammonia evaporates and doesn’t leave streaks, it’s another common ingredient in commercial window cleaners.  

 Phthalates - Often found in many fragranced household products, such as air fresheners, dish soap, even toilet paper. Due to proprietary laws, companies aren’t required to discloses what chemicals are used to create fragranced products. In short, there is a huge chance you won’t find phthalates printed on the label of a product you buy.  

Perchloroethylene or PERC - A colorless chemical, often found in your everyday spot removers, carpet and upholstery cleaners and dry-cleaning solutions.  

Triclosan - A white, crystalline power often used as an antibacterial agent in your everyday soaps, deodorants, and mouthwash.  

Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS” - Fabric softener liquids and sheets, most household cleaners labeled “antibacterial.” Quats are another type of antimicrobial, and thus pose the same problem as triclosan by helping breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They’re also a skin irritant; one 10-year study of contact dermatitis found quats to be one of the leading causes. According to Sutton, they’re also suspected as a culprit for respiratory disorders: “There’s evidence that even healthy people who are [exposed to quats] on a regular basis develop asthma as a result.”

These are just a few of the many harmful toxins we encounter daily. The skin has no safeguards against toxins so, absorbing any of these chemicals, poses a huge risk of them proceeding directly to your organs. Further, these chemicals are known to trigger dizziness, loss of coordination, migraine headaches and asthma. They’re known to help breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. If a product label lists any of these ingredients it’s safe to assume that other harmful chemicals are lurking.  


How Do You Take Action?  

Shopping smart. When you’re shopping for products for the home and personal care it’s important to think about eco-friendly and people safe products. Reading your labels when shopping is important. Be mindful of labels that describe hazards, like “vapors harmful” or “may cause skin irritation.” Your next call to action is to become fully educated on other harmful toxins and chemicals that are lurking in the products you’re using. A new wealth of knowledge can be used to help spread awareness to family members and friends about the harmful effects of using chemically based products. The elimination of toxic household products altogether is another step forward. Your use of chemical free products creates a healthy environment for you, your family and pets.