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20 Toxic Things You Probably Use Every Day

20 Toxic Things You Probably Use Every Day

Scientists are now realizing the chemicals found in a wide array of household goods are more toxic than previously thought. Since health and wellness is not simply about diet and exercise, but also about limiting exposure to toxic things, it’s a good idea to become aware of these items and take action steps to remove them wherever possible.

1. Perfumes

Perfume bottles

    A study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that potentially hazardous chemicals can commonly be found in fragrances. Toxic chemicals like benzaldehyde, camphor, ethyl acetate, benzyl acetate, linalool, acetone and methylene chloride can, when inhaled, cause dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, irritation to throat, eyes, skin, and lungs, kidney damage and headaches. For more information on perfume toxins and some natural alternatives, read: Are chemicals in perfume and cologne harmful?

    2. Mattresses

    mattress

      Many mattresses have high levels of a potentially harmful compound called PBDEs. The health problems associated with PBDE exposure include brain and reproductive damage, decreased sperm quality and thyroid problems, and this is particularly worrying since we spend a third of our lives in bed. PBDEs have been banned in Canada and several US states, so it’s a good idea check your mattress. If it has high levels of this toxic substance it would be prudent to invest in a new one.

      3. Cleaning products

      cleaning product toxins

        You are probably aware that many of the cleaning products you use every day have harmful chemicals in them, but you likely don’t think there is much alternative. However, natural products like baking soda, soap powder or lemon and hot water often work just as well without covering your home in toxic chemicals. Next time you are shopping for cleaning products check for chemical ingredients such as phthalates and chemical surfactants, and then consider a more natural alternative.

        4. Air fresheners

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        air freshener

          ­Like cleaning products, air fresheners help keep our homes nice, but a study by the University of California at Berkeley found that when used excessively or in unventilated area they release toxic levels of pollutants. Having air fresheners around your home shouldn’t make you sick, but you must ensure the area is ventilated to stop the toxic chemicals, such as ethylene-based glycol ethers and paradichlorobenzene, from circulating through the air and adversely impacting your health.

          5. Plastic food containers

          air freshener

            Many plastic containers are made from chemicals such as phthalates, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system to produce adverse developmental, reproductive and neurological effects in humans (see http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine) and since the plastic breaks down over time it can cause the release of these dangerous chemicals into your food. Switch to glass containers wherever possible.

            6. Plastic drink bottles

            plastic bottles toxins chemicals

              We’re all aware by now that plastic bottles aren’t great for the environment, but the they can also leak toxic chemicals into your drink. Most bottles are now BPA-free, which is a step in the right direction. However that isn’t the only harmful chemical so it’s always safer to use a glass if you can.

              7. Cosmetics

               cosmetics  toxins chemicals

                The average person applies between six and 12 cosmetic items per day and most of these will include toxic chemicals that are potentially harmful to you. It’s always a good idea to look for cosmetics that are free of synthetic fragrances, are mineral-based or are made from natural oils. Buying organic products will greatly reduce your exposure to toxins.

                8. Antiperspirants

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                antiperspirant

                  Most people wear antiperspirant to avoid odor but one of the “sweat-blocking ingredients” found in many antiperspirants is aluminum. In recent years questions have been raised about whether the aluminum in antiperspirants can contribute to the development of breast cancer. While the studies are inconclusive the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does require a warning label on all antiperspirants.

                  9. Fabric softeners

                  softener

                    Softeners work by coating your clothes with a thin layer of potentially toxic chemicals, such as quantenary ammonium salts. These can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems and headaches.

                    10. Non-stick Cookware

                    non stick cookware

                      While non-stick cookware can save you some cleaning time, it comes at a cost. At high temperatures the polytetrafluoroethylene that makes Teflon non-sticky gives off a toxic gas that has been linked to reproductive problems and other health issues. It’s always best to opt for stainless steel or iron skillets!

                      11. Baby care products

                      harmful baby care products

                        Surprisingly the flame-retardants used in some baby care products, like high chairs, cribs and strollers, can leak toxic chemicals. The chemicals from flame-retardants include bromine and chlorine which have been linked to a number of sexual and neurological disorders.

                        12. Shower curtains

                        shower curtain

                          Phthalates are sometimes used to soften the plastic that goes in shower curtains. Phthalates has been associated with causing harmful effects in children and impacting brain functions, like learning and memory.

                          13. Bug sprays

                          toxic bug spray with chemicals

                            Bug killers should be avoided inside (and ideally outside) of your house, as researchers have linked the insecticides to neurological damage in children. Wherever possible combat an indoor bug problem by cleaning up crumbs and sealing food in containers.

                            14. Canned food

                            canned food

                              Bisphenol A (BPA), found in most canned food containers, is a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to male infertility, heart disease and diabetes. Although some manufacturers are phasing the chemical out of their cans, it’s not clear that the replacements are totally safe either. If possible, opt for fresh or frozen foods.

                              15. Corn and soybeans

                              corn

                                Roundup affects defensive enzymes our bodies use to keep us healthy and Roundup Ready Crops (RR Crops) are genetically engineered crops that have their DNA altered to allow them to withstand the herbicide–therefore they should be avoided. These crops include items such as corn and soybeans; it’s always better to buy organic.

                                16. Dry-cleaned clothes

                                toxic dry cleaning

                                  While it may be more convenient to drop your clothing off with a dry cleaner, the cleaning chemical they use is usually perchloroethylene (known as PCE). It is classified as a probable carcinogen and has been linked to liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage. Many states and cities are phasing out PCE, but it is still widely used in others.

                                  17. TV and games consoles

                                  games controller

                                    Phthalates are found in the power cords of devices and controller cables of game consoles, and flame retardants (BFRs) that have been linked to impaired brain development can be found in circuit boards and casings.

                                    18. Desktop computers and laptops

                                    laptop

                                      The presence of the same toxic substances can be found in well-known brand laptops, but many people are also concerned about the potentially dangerous electromagnetic field (EMF) generated by your screen and machine, which could be seriously damaging your health. While it’s important to note that there has been no conclusive scientific evidence linking laptops and desktops to these diseases, it’s also prudent to have a digital detox every so often and walk away from your screen!

                                      19. Cell phones

                                      cellphone

                                        There has been a surge in radiofrequency (RF) exposure from wireless devices over the last decade, which has led to a huge increase in reports of hypersensitivity and diseases related to electromagnetic field and RF exposure. RF exposure has been linked with a wide variety of diseases such as cancer, immune dysfunction, neurological disease and reproductive disorders. While the World Health Organization has found there is no conclusive scientific evidence linking smartphones to these diseases, your phone still contains lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium, which are all potentially harmful in large doses, so please be sure to dispose of your old phone in the proper manner.

                                        20. Words

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                                        toxic words

                                          Ok, so this last one is probably not what you were expecting, but I have little doubt you are using toxic words every day. Try to cut down your use of and exposure to toxic words (and toxic people) and I bet if you do so–in addition to reducing exposure to the other items listed above–then your health, happiness and well-being will quickly improve!

                                          Featured photo credit: Still Thinking via flickr.com

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                                          Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                                          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                                          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                                          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                                          1. Work on the small tasks.

                                          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                                          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                                          2. Take a break from your work desk.

                                          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                                          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                                          3. Upgrade yourself

                                          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                                          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                                          4. Talk to a friend.

                                          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                                          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                                          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                                          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                                          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                                          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                                          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                                          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                                          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                                          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                                          7. Read a book (or blog).

                                          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                                          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                                          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                                          8. Have a quick nap.

                                          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                                          9. Remember why you are doing this.

                                          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                                          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                                          10. Find some competition.

                                          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                                          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                                          11. Go exercise.

                                          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                                          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                                          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                                          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                                          12. Take a good break.

                                          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                                          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                                          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                                          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                                          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                                          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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