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Cancer-Causers in Your Home

There may be more than you thought.

Because of poor government regulation, many of the cleaning products available on the market contain “everyday” carcinogens such as formaldehyde, nitrobenzene, methylene chloride, and napthelene, as well as reproductive toxins and hormone disruptors. Not to mention other ingredients that cause liver, kidney, and brain damage, allergies, and asthma. I really am a happy person—not your basic Eeyore type—but toxic cleaning products seriously get my goat. One of the best things you can do to detox your home is to create one of Annie’s simple nontoxic cleaning kits to use; most of the ingredients you probably already have on hand.

But there are a host of products, other than those used for basic cleaning, that often contain carcinogens. This list, from Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic (New Society Publishers, 2007), by Liz Armstrong et al, cautions against ten household products, in addition to cleaners, that you should avoid having in your house.

1. Air fresheners

Often contain napthelene and formaldehyde. Try zeolite or natural fragrances from essential oils. For more information, see Easy Greening: Air Fresheners.

2. Art supplies

Epoxy and rubber cement glues, acrylic paints and solvents, and permanent markers often contain carcinogens. 

3. Automotive supplies

Most are toxic. Keep them safely away from the house and dispose of at a hazardous-waste disposal center.

4. Candles

Avoid artificially scented paraffin candles that produce combustion by-products, including soot. Beeswax only, with cotton wicks. 


5. Carpet and upholstery shampoos

Use only wet-clean, natural ingredients. For DIY carpet cleaning, see How to Remove Stains and Pet Odors from Carpets.

6. Dry cleaning

Choose clothes that don’t need perchlorethylene to clean them. Ask for the wet-cleaning option at you local cleaners, or seek dry-cleaners that use liquid C02 or citrus juice cleaners. 

7. Flea, tick and lice control

Avoid lindane-based pesticides. 

8. Paints and varnishes

Always chose low- or no-VOC finishes. 

9. Household pesticides

Go natural. Make a Sugar Ant Hotel.

10. Microwaves

Never microwave or heat food in a plastic container. For more information about the dangers of food and plastic, see Kitchen Plastic: Easy Greening.

Related articles:
Four Easy Fixes for Airborne Toxins
The Great Spring Clean: Win an Eco-Friendly Cleaning Kit!
4 Reasons Why Your Damp House is Wrecking Your Health

By Melissa Breyer for Care2

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