Home appliances, utensils and other items may seem perfectly harmless, however, take a moment to analyse and consider the materials used in making these objects and how they can affect our daily lives. These are some of the toxins lurking around our homes today:
• Melamine cutlery
Hot food or drinks served in melamine bowls or cups can cause chemical toxins to leak into food, raising the risk of health issues such as kidney stones. In a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it was discovered that participants of tests who ate one serving of hot noodle soup from melamine bowls excreted eight times the amount of melamine in the urine samples as those who ate the same soup from glass or ceramic bowls. According the WHO, melamine is one of the causes of kidney failure and cancer in animal studies. Glass, ceramic or aluminium bowls are the better option to melamine bowls and eating utensils.
• Non-stick cookware
Cookware with non-stick coatings may be convenient and easy to clean but they contain PFCs, which have been found to be harmful to fetal and postnatal development as well as the dangers of contributing towards obesity and diabetes. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, increased exposure to these chemicals is linked to impaired humoral immune response to routine childhood immunisations in children aged between 5 and 7 years old. Many types of non-stick cookware may release toxic chemical when used at very high temperatures. Better options to this would be cookware made of cast iron or stainless steel.
• Shower curtain and wallpaper
Shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl blinds and several other household products contain phthalates – a chemical which is used to enhance the flexibility of plastic products. According to researchers, these chemicals can disrupt the hormone system in human bodies, cause diseases such as asthma and allergies. Prenatal exposure to this chemical can also cause development problems in children ranging from ages 4 to 9. A good way to avoid this hazard is to stay away from PVC products where possible and buy only plastic bags and wraps made from polyethylene. Stay away from household products that are labelled with “fragrance” as artificial fragrances may contain phthalates. Air your new plastic shower curtain outside for one or 2 days to rid them of airborne phthalates, before you install them in your bathroom.
Household furniture or upholstery that is said to be flame resistant may contain a chemical that is harmful to human bodies. These chemicals are added to furniture to reduce the risk of fire, however, when these chemicals combined with household dust enter the human body, they can cause endocrine disruption, reproductive disorders and even cancer. They are often transferred via hand and mouth contact, through the nose as well as eyes. To avoid or reduce the risk of exposure, it is good to frequently vacuum your couch or upholstery with HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners and by washing your hands before eating.
It is true that there are many hazards in this world and even in the air around us but with precaution and awareness, we can reduce the effects they have on us and our daily lives.