You may think that you are free from toxins at home, especially in your kitchen, but you might want to reconsider that thought. Technology, which has been advanced to make our lives easier, has made not only our surroundings, but also our homes toxic hot spots.
Many household products that we use on a daily basis contain harmful chemicals. Environmentalists claim that one can find close to 62 toxic chemicals in an average home. These chemicals could be anything from bisphenol A, found in plastic containers, to phthalates in synthetic fragrances.
The health hazards caused by repeated use of these products are not noticeable outright but can cause life-altering illnesses such as cancer, infertility and hormone disruption. Fortunately, most of these products have healthier alternatives.
We have identified five toxins hidden in plain sight in your kitchen and ways in which you can get rid of them.
Utensils with Teflon coating
Teflon is a coating manufactured using perfluoro-octanoic acid, a human carcinogen. When heated, cookware coated with Teflon and other synthetic non-stick material, emit highly corrosive and lethal gases. A scratch on the surface of Teflon utensils causes the chemicals to leak. These pollutants enter our bodies through food prepared on these surfaces, slowly poisoning them over a period of time.
Alternative: Stainless steel, since it is the most non inert of all metals, is the best alternative to non-stick cookware. Other alternatives are lead-free ceramic and glass. Cast iron utensils also have non-stick properties and any residue from them or from copper pots can actually prove to be beneficial for the body.
Chemical cleaners and soaps
The chemicals found in kitchen cleaners and air fresheners are toxic air pollutants. Some even react to create toxic compounds that can cause cancer. Most soaps and detergents may contain bleaches, synthetic whiteners and artificial fragrances that cause skin irritations, rashes and breathing problems. Phthalates, found in air fresheners and soap, are also endocrine disruptors.
Alternative: Use non-toxic, chlorine free, natural cleaning and washing products. Vegetable oil-based soaps are a healthy choice. Common cooking ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, essential oils and alcohol can be effectively utilized to create safer cleaning liquids.
All hard, clear plastic products have BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical that seeps into food when the containers are heated or scratched. Plastics are highly unstable, some release chemicals when heated, others when cooled down and others upon contact.
Alternative: An easy way to avoid plastic is to store and heat food in glass, stainless steel or ceramic utensils. Also, replace plastic cutting boards with bamboo, which are eco-friendly and a renewable resource.
Kitchen cabinets, counter-tops, and shelves are often made of pressed wood, MDF, plywood or particleboard, which contain urea formaldehyde. Kitchen furniture also use formaldehyde glues, lead paint and toxic finishes.
Formaldehyde causes respiratory irritation or asthma and is also a known carcinogen.
Alternative: Soy, PVA, and phenol formaldehyde are alternatives to urea formaldehyde. Opt for furniture made of stainless steel, aluminum or formaldehyde-free fiberboard. Solid wood or bamboo without toxic finishes is, of course, the best option. Use water-based, low-VOC sealants and paints on wood furniture.
Dioxins in meat and fish
Dioxins are environmental pollutants that are found in meat, dairy, fish and shellfish. They can cause reproductive problems, cancer and damage the immune system. The highest concentration of dioxins is found in fat and liver.
Alternative: Dioxins accumulate in fat, so it’s best to trim it from meats and poultry and choose leaner meat. Opt for low-fat dairy products. Cooking meats by broiling them helps reduce the amount of dioxins in them. A balanced diet with adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables and cereals will help avoid exposure from one source.