Toxic Materials in Your Home

I grew up trusting my doctors, furniture stores, grocery stores and yes…even restaurants.  When we trust so implicitly, we remove our own sense of responsibility.  There were things I used, ate and lived with that I never checked out of questioned because it didn’t occur to me.

Furniture stores have been selling us fabrics that are causing cancer, damage to the heart, liver, central nervous system and kidneys.  Our grocery store and local restaurants have been selling us food that is addictive and causes all kinds of physical problems.  What should that tell us?

We have to be responsible for our own health.

There are many products in our home that we just assume couldn’t be sold to us if they were causing cancer or other diseases.  This just isn’t the case.

Did you know that our mattress has more chemicals in it than a barrel of crude oil!  Most mattress are made of petrochemical derivatives(glue).  To add insult to injury, many have added fire retardant chemicals, toxic dyes and sometimes even pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

So, what can you do?

  1. Your mattress should be made of natural materials like cotton, wool or organic materials.  Then you need to be sure that the wool was sheared from sheep who were untreated.
  2. Make sure the mattress (and pad) have no synthetic material (foams, glues, chemicals), no moth proofing or fire retardants.
  3. The frame should be built without toxic glues, particleboard, chemical stains or paint.
  4. It is important that your mattress does not support mold and mildew and can absorb and release moisture.
  5. Use a tightly woven organic cotton barrier cloth that does not allow dust mites.
  6. Launder bedding with unscented, non chlorinated soap.

When replacing carpeting look for natural fibers.  If you already have carpeting that is a few years old…the chemicals have probably already off gassed.  Carpet has been associated with more and more health problems.  Toxic chemicals may be found in the fiber bonding material (glue), dyes, backing glues, fire retardants latex binders, fungicides, antimicrobial, antistatic and stain resistant treatments.  These are all the great advances we have been sold on all these years to offer us better use.  It is all toxic.

There are wallpapers now that are being manufactured responsibly, Environments is a brand that is beautiful and safe.  Vinyl wallpaper out gasses toxic fumes.   The glues used to adhere wallpaper can be a problem and water can be trapped behind the wallpaper and cause mold.   There are many wall treatments available today that are safe and green.  One such wall covering takes a mixture of natural fibers and minerals in a high- density composition that is troweled on the wall and provides acoustical benefits as well as safe ambiance.

Paint is available in low VOC and no VOC alternatives.  That strong and annoying odor of new paint is dangerous.  You should stay out of the room until the smell is gone.

There are a million choices for window coverings today.  The fabrics for your window treatments should be natural (non synthetic) and be free of formaldehyde and flame retardants.  Manufacturers have become more responsible in the materials used to make shades and blinds.  The products that are safe will usually be certified.  You still have to think for yourself.

Some natural fabrics:

  • cotton
  • linen
  • wool
  • silk
  • bamboo
  • hemp

There are things in addition to natural fabrics to take into consideration, like:

  • the pesticides and fertilizer that may have been used
  • dyes
  • chemicals added to retard fire, decrease wrinkling and prolong life
  • the children it takes to harvest and produce the bamboo fabrics
  • can the material be recycled or reused?
  • how long will it take for the fabric to break down in the landfills
  • how is it cleaned?  will it require dry cleaning chemicals?

Have you ever opened a new shower curtain and had the chemical odor come pouring out?  The smell is from chemicals added to prolong the life, decrease wrinkling, retard water and sometimes dyes.  You can use a cotton duck fabric that is naturally water retardant and resists wrinkling.

Wool is a fabric that is inherently fire retardant.

I have a fabric laminator who is suffering devastating loss to his business this year because there are bpa’s in the formula he used.  In his attempt to do the right thing, he replaced the old formula with a bpa free formula and the finish isn’t as nice and everyone is complaining.  In the attempt to make or technologically advanced products safe again, I think we need to make some sacrifices.  He went back to using the bpa formula for anything that wasn’t in a children’s room.  Arghh.

Sometimes, we can even look at things like the wrinkles and shrinking in linen or silk and accept these inherent qualities as part of the beauty of the product.  Maybe we even need to learn to decorate with natural colors, skip the dyes and add colors with our art.

In 2008 my husband asked his oncologist what could have caused his cancer.  The doctor told him that he didn’t have a clue.  Most people that had his type of cancer were farmers working with pesticides and fertilizers.  It could have been the food he ate, but I doubt it.  No one in his family had cancer…until this generation. I am guessing it is dry cleaning and fire retarding chemicals.

Here is a link that has lots of great information, check it or email me [email protected] for answers to any questions you may have.  http://www.greenguard.org/en/index.aspx 

 

~Cathy