We know that being healthy means eating quality food, getting physical activity and maintaining a stress-free, happy composure. But did you ever stop to think about the insidious ways that your health is endangered even if you do all these things religiously?
Dangeous chemicals and toxins abound in many of the products we use daily in our homes. Most of what we touch is absorbed by our skin, the largest organ in the body. Our lungs, while delivering vital oxygen to our systems, also carry pollutants that may be present.
Joe Muchow is the owner of Elmhurst-based , a "green" products company that offers a wide selection of environmentally and health-friendly consumer products, appliances and more for both household and commercial use. Muchow shared the top common household products consumers should be wary of using, especially if there is someone suffering from allergies or a respiratory condition.
Household Cleaning Products
Many traditional cleaning products for the home contain known carcinogens, such as formaldehyde, which can cause wheezing and respiratory problems. You may also find this chemical present in some pressed-wood products, such as furniture and building materials. Muchow recommends reading the book "Home Safe Home" by Debra Lynn Dadd for excellent tips on how to find and make your own safe home products.
Traditional bathroom cleaners and other products have always triggered breathing problems for me in the past. Since switching to "green" products such as those by Seventh Generation and Shaklee, I have greatly reduced my allergies and breathing issues.
Chlorine in our Water
Oftentimes, public health officials must weight the risk of using a chemical versus its risk to one's health. Chlorine, for example, helps to disinfect our drinking water from bacteria and viruses that can cause human diseases. Many believe, though, that daily exposure to chlorine in our water could be potentially harmful to one's health.
Since most of us shower daily, our skin is continually absorbing small amounts which can be reduced by installing a chlorine filter in your shower, recommends Muchow.
While many believe bottled water is a safe alternative for drinking, Muchow says we need to know where the water comes from, since a large portion comes straight from the tap. Read the label and ensure that it is filtered.
A good water filter can also help to reduce the chlorine as well as pharmaceuticals that may be in our drinking water.
Fragrances in Household and Personal Care Products
While you may love the scent of your air spray, it's important to realize that most products contain dangerous chemicals that create those fragrances. Dryer sheets, fragrance plug-ins, air fresheners and other products contain many toxic chemicals. Continual exposure can cause a build-up in human tissues over time. While this is still a controversial subject, it's probably safer not to take a chance.
Muchow advises reading the labels and researching products on the Internet. If you don't recognize the ingredients, ultimately, you might want to be wary of using that product.
To find other environmentally friendly home and garden businesses in the Chicago area, check out the Organic Consumers Association.