We all know that there are thousands of carcinogens in the outside world, but what about the ones hiding in your own home? You may not think of your living room as a cancer risk, but you would be surprised to find out how many dangerous carcinogens are lurking right inside your house. You might be wondering how that’s possible with government agencies like the FDA working to keep us safe. Well, the EU has banned over 1,300 ingredients from use in hygiene and cosmetic products because it has deemed them toxic. On the other hand, the FDA has only recognized 11 ingredients as toxic and banned from use in American products. This leaves us susceptible to known harmful ingredients that our favorite brands are allowed to use and sell to us without warning. Luckily for us, the clean product trend that is currently sweeping the world (thanks TikTok) is teaching us which ingredients and manufacturing processes can be harmful to us and which are seemingly safe (for now). This blog post will discuss five of the most common carcinogenic products that we come into contact with every single day and why they’re so harmful.
One of the most common carcinogens in our homes is formaldehyde, a chemical found in many cosmetics. Products like nail polish or hair gel contain this substance. Formaldehyde can lead to respiratory issues over time if used in poorly ventilated environments. Other products formaldehyde is found in are paints, plywood and even some candles. Keep an eye out for formulations that contain formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is often listed with different ingredient names such as: Formalin, Formic aldehyde, Methanediol, Methanal, Methyl aldehyde, Methylene glycol and Methylene oxide.
Benzene is a colorless and tasteless liquid with a sweet odor that often comes from gas, plastics and detergents. There are many ways benzene can enter our body, like through inhalation or ingestion of products that contain it. The most common way we consume benzene is through breathing in gasoline fumes at gas stations. In early 2021, online pharmacy Valisure sounded the alarm over many companies distributing hand sanitizers with benzene contamination present in their formulations. Also, if you’re a painter, you should be extra careful of benzene in your favorite paint formulations! Products like varnish and paint contain this carcinogenic substance which can cause liver damage over time if the room you’ve painted remains unventilated. The good news is that there are ways to reduce the exposure of benzene for yourself and others. One such way is to use spray cans instead. Typically, spray cans have little to no benzene when compared to their canned paint counterparts. Benzene is also a chemical that is often found in some cleaning products that’s usually listed as “fragrance.”
Overexposure to benzene can cause a decease in red blood cells, leading to anemia and bone marrow disorders. Other concerns with benzene exposure include excessive bleeding and leukemia. It is important to note that even small traces of benzene can be toxic to humans and should be avoided whenever you can.
3. BPA & Phthalates
As a society, we often think about plastics as being safe around food or drink because we see plastic containers designed to store food on shelves at Target, Walmart and other convenience stores. We also find plastic water bottles everywhere we go and often pick up food for take-out in plastic containers as well. The reality is that almost all plastics are made with the chemicals BPA and phthalates, which have been linked to many diseases, some even as serious as cancer. BPA can enter our food products by leaching from plastic. Phthalates are used to give plastics flexibility and can enter our foods in the same way. Heat is the biggest risk factor for BPA and phthalates contaminating our foods. The best way to avoid consuming BPA and phthalates is to avoid microwaving food or beverages in plastic containers or throwing out water bottles left in the car, especially on hot days.
4. Household Cleaners
Household cleaners are some of the most dangerous carcinogens in your home right now. All too often brands sell us on the idea that “healthy home = healthy life”, while pushing products that have known toxins that can cause damage to human and pet DNA. The most common cancer-causing ingredients in household cleaners include ammonia, benzene, toluene and xylene. The best way to avoid toxic household cleaners is to buy natural or organic cleaner brands that have committed to avoiding harmful chemicals in their product formulations. Some of our favorites include: Seventh Generation, Method & Burt’s Bees — all of which you can find at your local Target.
Lighting a candle in your home can shift your mood instantly. Nothing completes “fall vibes” like lighting a pumpkin spice or apple cinnamon candle on a cool, overcast autumn day. We’re sad to report that most candles are not only bad for the environment, but carcinogenic to humans. Burning anything, whether it be firewood or a candle wick, will produce carcinogens (which is why you should also be extra careful when grilling your favorite foods).
The majority of candles are made with paraffin wax, a petroleum byproduct that is bleached chemically. When lit, paraffin wax releases benzene, toluene and petro-soot (known to be as harmful as second-hand smoke). While the FDA only allows candles to have a cotton or paper wick, lead based wicks are found in many candles that come from China and Taiwan. These lead wicks can release 5x the amount of lead that is considered hazardous for kids. Finally, synthetic fragrances typically contain phthalates, which can alter hormone levels.
The least harmful candles you can use are unscented, made of soy wax or beeswax and have 100% paper or cotton wicks.
You might want to inquire about manufacturing processes before acquiring new furniture that is made in China. Much of the furniture that comes from China is manufactured with harmful chemicals that have been linked to increased rates of lead and other heavy metals found in the home. Try to find health-conscious furniture brands to buy from or purchase goods from your local thrift store to reduce waste. Another way to make your furniture safer for use is to off-gas your new furniture outdoors or in a well ventilated room.
We often think that if we buy products from well known, trusted brands, the products we bring into our homes are safe to use. However, many household products are made with toxic chemicals and not all of them have warning labels on their packaging or even safety data sheets that explain what dangers they pose. Maintaining a clean home doesn’t mean you can let your guard down when it comes to toxins! We know, we know. It’s a lot to take in. You may suddenly find yourself knee deep in research or looking at manufacturing details, but the reality is this: the more you know, the safer you and your loved ones will be. The best thing you can do is learn more about the products you use and where they come from by contacting companies that produce them before making purchasing decisions.
Knowledge is power and we’re here to help you stay informed about the dangers in your home.
About Jim Parrish
Jim Parrish’s vision has always been to bring peace to clients whose lives have been turned upside down by their personal injuries and from dealing with unscrupulous insurance companies. With over 20 years of personal injury experience, as well as prior experience working with the insurance companies, Jim is well versed in the tricky ways that insurance companies try to scheme their way out of paying damages to deserving injured persons.
For the first several years of his career, Jim Parrish worked for, provided advice to and represented insurance companies in claims across the nation. However, after seeing the injustice of good people being deprived of fair and reasonable payment for life-changing injuries and damage, Jim decided to use the skills and knowledge he learned from inside the insurance industry to champion the rights of victims of harm and wrongdoing.
Jim’s practice is exclusively limited to personal injury matters arising from car/motorcycle/trucking accidents, dog attacks, products liability, and more.
If you have been involved in a personal injury, call the Parrish Law Firm for a FREE legal consultation today at (571) 229 – 1800.