8 Everyday Cancer-Causing Chemicals Hiding at Home That You May Have Overlooked

April 11, 2019 Updated: April 12, 2019

We are surrounded by toxins in our daily lives. The air we breathe, the plastic world that surrounds us, mobile phones, the carpets we walk on—not to mention the food we ingest. The list is endless.

It is a minefield out there. The use of unregulated chemicals in the environment is increasing, and we need to find ways to protect ourselves and our children from their harmful effects.

Illustration – Pixabay | PublicDomainPictures

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has been conducting scientific research for 10 years, and has shown that bisphenol A (BPA)—a chemical that was used to harden baby bottles, toys, and other items—has been found in the blood system of those exposed to it. It is known to cause harm to the endocrine systems of unborn babies and infants. In 2012, it was banned from use in baby products, and manufacturers replaced it with another chemical. There are now fears that this has caused harm as well.

Toxic substances, even exposure to small amounts, can interfere with the reproductive systems of men and women, preventing conception. And exposure at times of development in babies, infants, and teenagers can cause diseases down the track, if not immediately.

Because some toxins take time to accumulate in the body, their effects may not be apparent for some time.

Here is a list of some serious chemicals in the home—how many are you being exposed to?

1. Air fresheners

Illustration – Shutterstock | New Africa

Everyone likes their house to smell clean, but what about those aerosol sprays known as “air fresheners”? Well, that synthetic fragrance, or “parfum,” is a cocktail of chemicals. Air fresheners emit more than 100 different chemicals. Here are some safe and effective tips to use essential oils for freshening your home from Nascent.

2. Plastics—Choose your plastics carefully

There are plastics that release chemicals, especially when heated—chemicals like vinyl chloride, phthalates, and bisphenol A. Use glass for hot food and drinks, and don’t use plastic in the microwave to heat foods. Consider switching your water drinking bottle from plastic to stainless steel, or glass if possible. Disposable plastic ends up polluting the environment, and ultimately our bodies.

3. Non-stick cookware is toxic

Illustration – Unsplash | Simon Migaj

Non-stick cookware is coated with teflon, which contains poly-perfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS), and when heated at high temperatures, it emits a toxic, poisonous gas, harmful to humans, which can cause cancer and reproductive disorders.

Moreover, after some time, the non-stick coating can, bit by bit, fall into the food you cook … and you don’t want to ingest that cancer-causing stuff. There are other toxic chemicals in there as well. Keep in mind that the older that non-stick fry pan or cooking pot is, or the more scratched it is, the greater the risk, and the more you are exposed to these chemicals.

Stainless steel and cast iron cookware are great alternatives.

4. Insect sprays. Pesticides are toxic—that is why they kill all those bugs

It would be much better to keep vermin and insects out of your home, keep surfaces clean, store your food correctly, and seal up any cracks where vermin might get in. If you need to, use baits or traps. Avoid chemical flea collars, especially if they contain propoxur, as children can easily become affected by this chemical.

There are also some natural alternatives that work fantastically, and they smell great too, such as eucalyptus spray, which has antiseptic and repellent uses. Eucalyptus oil may be one of the best options among oils for this purpose, but it isn’t the only alternative. There are plenty of other essential oils that will do a nice job, such as lavender, lemongrass, citronella, and peppermint.

5. Is your shampoo a chemical cocktail?

Illustration – Shutterstock | MRAORAOR

Do you really know what is in the shampoo and conditioner your family uses? Are parabens in there? They are a known cancer-causing chemical that you should avoid. One study found that 99 percent of the breast cancer tissue they examined contained parabens!

6. Cosmetics

There are many carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting chemicals we should be concerned about in cosmetics.

Mineral-based and organic products are a much safer option. EWG provides a wide list of safer alternatives to use.

7. Canned foods

Illustration – Pixabay | Joenomias

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to line the insides of cans of tinned foods, and is linked to heart disease, male infertility, and diabetes. Some companies don’t use it, but it would be healthier to eat mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, if not fresh organic food, and keep tinned food consumption to a minimum.

Also, don’t be afraid to check out your nearest Asian grocery store. You may find some different kinds of fresh vegetables, which aren’t in your regular supermarket, that may serve to inspire your next meal. With more variety and cooking inspiration, you have all the more reason to stay away from the cans.

8. Regular cleaning products

Cleaning agents have been found to damage the linings of the airways when used regularly, and one study, published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found their impact on the lungs was equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day. Scientists suggest instead to use microfiber cloths with water for cleaning.

There are also so many natural alternatives for cleaning the floor, benches, and whatnot. White vinegar, for one, is a wonderful multi-purpose cleaner.

This list is just a small sample of what we are being exposed to on a daily basis. If we can all begin to clean up our home environment, not only will our health benefit, but our children will grow up with more knowledge of how to live in a toxic environment and avoid that chemical exposure.