The Surprising Toxicity Of Everyday Products

The Surprising Toxicity Of Everyday Products

Whether it’s baby products, pet supplies, clothing, or personal care items, the products Americans purchase are expected to be non-toxic and perfectly safe. However, this isn’t the case for a surprising number of products.

In fact, over 150 chemicals found in the average American home have been linked to allergies, psychological disorders, birth defects, and cancers. Approximately 70,000 chemical compounds have been newly invented and used in the home and local environment since 1950 without prior testing for toxicity. In the last 20 years, the rate of asthma in the U.S. has tripled to 30 million cases.

There are an unfortunate number of products that are contaminated or created with harmful chemicals. Fortunately, there are safer alternatives for every American and their families.


As mentioned above regarding non-organic diapers and soft toys, fibers made from non-organic or man-made materials can contain dangerous toxins. When these toxins come into contact with your skin over long periods of time, you may suffer from various health issues.

Clothing Made From Modified Cotton And Formaldehyde

Cotton is one of the most commonly used fibers in American apparel. It’s also one of the most toxic. Cotton uses more pesticides during its growth cycle than any other crop in the United States.

In fact, cotton uses 16 to 25% of the nation’s plant-growing chemicals. One of these chemicals includes Roundup, an herbicide that’s been linked to hormone disruption, cancer, and resistance to antibiotics. In some cases, cotton has also been known to contain chlorine bleach and formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is the key chemical used in creating anti-cling, perspiration-proof, and pre-shrunk apparel. Unfortunately, formaldehyde is a carcinogen and has been linked to an increased rate for lung cancer by 30%.

What’s The Alternative?

Organic clothing uses cotton fiber that’s free from pesticides and herbicides. That means you can enjoy your favorite lazy Sunday sweater without worrying about the health implications.

Additionally, look for companies that sell clothing using other materials and fibers such as bamboo, cork, hemp, and wool. These materials are free from chemicals and are better suited to the environment.

Baby Products

Babies eat four times the amount of food per pound of body weight. They also breathe two times the amount of air per pound of body weight compared to the average adult.

This makes infants more vulnerable to food and air contaminants. However, it isn’t only food and air contaminants that can affect a baby’s health.

Danger in the Diaper

According to the Archives of Environmental Health, studies have shown that conventional disposable diapers commonly used by parents release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs include chemicals such as xylene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and dipentene. When these chemicals come into contact with a child’s skin, they can cause long-term health problems such as childhood asthma and cancer.

Conventional disposable diapers have also have also been known to cause harsh diaper rash. A study conducted in 2005 showed disposable diapers sometimes used dyes that contained heavy metals. When these dyes came into contact with the skin of a child, it resulted in irritant diaper dermatitis, or diaper rash.

What’s The Alternative?

Organic cotton cloth diapers have been making a comeback in recent years. If cloth diapers are not a manageable option, look for innovative companies that offer safer disposable diapers that are free from heavy metals, lead, latex, chlorine, lotions and fragrance.

PBTs In Children’s Toys

Bioaccumulative toxins, or PBTs, have been regularly found in playmats and plastic children’s toys in recent years. PBTs such as cadmium, have been known to cause serious health issues such as damage to the kidneys, lungs, and bones. It’s also a common cause of cancer.

Children’s toys have also been known to contain Brominated Flame Retardants, or BFRs, as well as arsenic. BFRs have been shown to cause delayed physical and mental development and thyroid problems. Exposure to arsenic also reduces cognitive function while raising the risk of fetal mortality.

What’s The Alternative?

It’s surprisingly easy to cut out plastic toys from your child’s playtime. A wide variety of companies made children’s toys from natural, unfinished wood so you don’t have to worry about your child gnawing on BFRs. Some companies will also finish their wood toys with organic oils and beeswax.

For softer toys like stuffed animals and dolls, consider organic options. Just like cloth diapers, the organic label will help keep pesticides from passing from the fiber to your child’s hands and mouth.

Personal Care Products

Personal care products have had past problems with the general public due to animal testing. However, the issue with health and beauty supplies goes beyond animal welfare.

Parabens In Synthetic Fragrances

Perfumes have been around for thousands of years. But only in modern times have these synthetic fragrances contained chemicals such as parabens, aldehydes, and benzene derivatives.

These chemicals have been linked to detrimental health issues such as nervous system problems and cancers. They’ve also been linked to skin allergic reactions and dermatitis.

What’s The Alternative?

Consider using natural fragrances rather than synthetic ones. These fragrances use organic ingredients and include extracts from various plants and fruits such as vanilla and peach.

Many also base their fragrances with essential oils like lavender and bergamot, which improve mood and blood circulation. What’s more is that these natural fragrances aren’t any more expensive than synthetic fragrances.

Heavy Metals In Lipstick

It may be a compliment to hear that your lipstick is “metal,” but not when one of the metals your lipstick contains is arsenic. Lip color products, as well as eye shadow, concealer, blush, and sunscreen have been known to include heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, zinc, lead, chromium, and arsenic.

These chemicals have been known to negatively affect the environment. They’ve also been linked to health issues such as cancer, reproductive problems, developmental conditions, and organ system problems. Pregnant women and young children are especially susceptible to these issues.

What’s The Alternative?

Staying away from heavy metals can be difficult. This is because heavy metals aren’t always listed on the label of every personal care product.

To help keep yourself safe from chemicals, check the labels of your personal care products in case these ingredients are included. You can also choose from products that use natural ingredients such as beeswax and vegetable wax.

Household Cleaning Products

Common household cleaning products are loaded with harsh chemicals, many of which are toxic. But did you know these toxins can still affect you even when you’re not touching them directly?

The Dangers Of All-Purpose Cleaners

All-purpose cleaners are great for cleaning every room and surface of the house. Unfortunately, they’re also great for causing damage to the eyes and lungs. This is because all-purpose cleaners typically contain chemicals like ammonia, ethylene glycol monobutyl acetate, and sodium hypochlorite. These chemicals can cause anything from skin rashes to brain and kidney damage. And, when mixed with other cleaning solutions such as ammonia and chlorine, these chemicals can go from dangerous to outright deadly.

What’s The Alternative?

Try cleaning products that are plant-based or use ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon. These products use enzymes that break down stains and odors. In fact, baking soda and water used together in a homemade recipe can remove everyday stains.

Aerosol In Canned Air Fresheners

Air fresheners may make your home smell nice, but they also contaminate the air with aerosol fumes. These fumes can cause earaches, headaches, diarrhea, and even brain damage.

Many air fresheners have also been known to contain petroleum distillates. These colorless liquids have a kerosene-like smell and can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. In some cases, they’ve been linked to pulmonary edema, a fatal condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs.

What’s The Alternative?

Oil diffusers make for great-smelling alternative to spray air fresheners as well as candles, which can sometimes contain formaldehyde and benzene. Essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers use oils such as lavender, bergamot, chamomile, and cedarwood to make your home smell natural and fresh.

Additionally, the ingredient list for either diffuser is relatively small. Water and essential oils are the key ingredients whereas for reed diffusers, you may also need bamboo skewers and vodka.

Pet Products

Many pet owners don’t often question the chemicals that are involved with pet products. However, your furry friends are just as vulnerable to toxins as children are.

Imported Pet Toys

In May 2011, the U.S. imported up to $29 billion in Chinese products. Among these products are pet toys. According to a 2007 test run by, a surprising number of these toys contain traces of the same heavy metals found in personal care products.

These heavy metals include chromium, cadmium, and lead. When chewed and licked on by pets, these toys release these chemicals. As a result, many pets have suffered from neurological problems and cancers.

What’s The Alternative?

Look for pet toys that include organic ingredients and fibers. Toys with labels such as phthalate-free and BPA-free are also good choices.

For chew toys, many pet owners will often assume natural chews are the best choice. In reality, some natural chew toys or treats like elk antlers can hurt your pet’s teeth. consider those recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

Carcinogens In Flea Collars

Flea and tick collars are necessary for pets during the spring and summer when disease-ridden pests try to claim your furry friend as their host. However, flea collars have been known to contain chemicals that can be dangerous to human health.

Two of these chemicals are tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur. According to the EPA, these chemicals may be carcinogens.

What’s more, flea collars have been known to contain amitraz. Amitraz is considered a developmental toxicant, meaning it can cause birth defects should a pregnant woman be exposed to it.

What’s The Alternative?

There are flea and tick collars for pets that contain natural ingredients only. These flea collars use herbs and natural oils such as cedarwood, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, citronella, and rue to fight back and repel pests.

There are a vast number of chemicals and toxins in a variety of everyday American products. Fortunately, the health problems caused by these toxins can be avoided. By choosing natural, organic products and paying attention to ingredients, we can keep toxic chemicals out of our lives and out of the environment.


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