March 3rd, 2015

6 Things in Your Home that Could Cause Cancer

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6 Things in Your Home that Could Cause Cancer Groovy Green Livin

A person is more likely to die from heart disease than cancer, but cancer is closing in quickly and could take the lead.

According to a recent New York Times article, the most encouraging gains in the war against cancer come from taking steps to prevent this disease. We all know that not all cancers are preventable, but through some simple lifestyle changes we can sometimes lower our risk.

The home is an easy place to begin since there are several possible cancer-causing substances that might be lurking under your very own roof. 

Non-Stick Pots and Pans (Teflon)

Many homes are filled with nonstick pots and pans, which are loved for their ease and convenience when it comes to cooking and cleaning. Nonstick finishes have come under fire in recent years due to the toxic fumes emitted when the cookware is exposed to high heat. Most nonstick pots and pans are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a chemicals from the Perfluorinated chemical or Perfluorochemicals (PFC) family. Studies in humans found that workers with exposure to PFOA have higher risks of bladder and kidney cancersAnother study showed that PFCs have been linked to infertility in women.

Bottom Line: Ditch the Teflon.

Candles

Candles come in varying scents, colors, shapes and sizes. If you’re not careful about your candle purchase they could add nasty pollutants to your indoor air. Most of the candles on the market are made with paraffin wax, derived from petroleum, and scented with synthetic fragrances, also derived from petroleum. In a study by the American Chemical Society the researchers found that the petroleum based candles emitted varying levels of cancer-causing toluene and benzene, as well as other hydrocarbon chemicals called alkanes and alkenes, which are components of gasoline and can irritate respiratory tracts and trigger asthma.

Bottom Line: Time to replace those petroleum based candles with a safer alternative.

BPA 

For many years BPA has been on the minds of parents, consumers and public health advocates. I’ve been following the BPA issue closely and devoted much of my writing to this topic. I was even interviewed by ABC World News about the FDA’s decision not to ban BPA. There have been some wonderful victories surrounding BPA. The good news is that many companies are starting to listen and BPA is transitioning out. The bad or unsettling news is that even though a product is considered BPA-free the replacement could still be releasing high levels of other chemicals that mimic estrogen.

Bottom Line: Just say not to plastic as much as you can.

Radon

According to the National Cancer InstituteRadon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air.”  People who inhale high levels of radon are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Believe it our not radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon can enter your home through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations, and collect indoors.

Bottom Line: Test your home for radon. 

Household Cleaners and Cosmetics

There could be cancer-causing chemicals in your household cleaner and cosmetics. Seems crazy, right? Unfortunately our system is broken both of these industries are highly unregulated. This leaves it wide open for these toxins to land in our products. Remember Tide and 1,4 dioxane (a known carcinogen)?

Bottom Line: Become an avid label reader and find products that contain simple ingredients and avoid products that contain long chemical ingredients that you can’t pronounce (*update see comments for additional information). Best bet-make some of your own personal care and cleaning products at home.

Flame Retardants

Much of the furniture in our home is filled with flame retardants. It’s no secret flame retardants have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other serious health problems. The market place seems to be shifting as more and more retailers decide not to use toxic flame retardants, but as consumers we still need to be cautious.

Bottom Line: Let your dollars do the talking and seek out furniture retailers and manufacturers that commit to carrying furniture without toxic flame retardants.

How do you prevent cancer-causing chemicals from entering your home?

 


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photo credit: The House, Lately via photopin (license)

23 Responses to “6 Things in Your Home that Could Cause Cancer”

  1. These are great tips and I have to say that most people don’t even know about radon. I didn’t till we bought our house and we had to have it tested.
    Scarlet recently posted..Paper Straw Vase for St. Patrick’s DayMy Profile

  2. […] continue reading this post → […]

  3. These are such great tips, Lori! I especially like how you give the bottom line. I feel good that I’ve done most of these items but we should test for radon!
    Sara recently posted..The Human Microbiome: Your body’s ecosystemMy Profile

  4. We tested for radon when we bought our house and I nixed the BPA. But we still have teflon pans! Looks like I have some purging to do in our kitchen… thanks for the tips, Lori!

  5. Great tips! I’m so glad that there are more and more options for flame retardant free furniture. I’m especially excited that West Elm and Crate & Barrel are on board, I love their stuff.

  6. Thank you for this list. We’ve removed a bunch of these,…next on the list is the furniture.
    Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? recently posted..Chapter 1: LILLE Love Letters | Mommy and Me Monday | 263rd edMy Profile

  7. Thank you for this important reminder — especially about candles!
    Tamara @ We3Travel recently posted..10 Reasons to Take the Family to the Quebec Winter CarnivalMy Profile

  8. You’re so welcome Tamara. There’s a lot to remember!

  9. At least there’s good news in the furniture department Krystyn- companies are starting to voluntarily remove fire retardants.

  10. I know Lisa-so nice to see so many main stream companies voluntarily removing toxic flame retardants.

  11. You have to do what works for you Kimberly. No judgment. I’ve had a radon kit sitting in my study for years. I need to test!

  12. I’m with you Sara-I still need to test for Radon. I should do it now while our house is sealed up tightly due to the freezing temps!

  13. Scarlet-so nice to see that most people are testing for radon prior to purchasing a new home. So important!

  14. Hello, thank you for the article. Although I know most of the information already, I think it’s good to spread it all around. We should pay attention to what we use at home and also where we live. If I can’t avoid using something what can be unhealthy, I try to minimalize it. It is important to live in healthy house and environment.

  15. Always depressing to read about, but a good reminder nonetheless. I’ve done my best to remove toxins/pollutants/etc. from our home, but there’s so much! Deep breaths 🙂

  16. You’re absolutely right when you say we need to avoid PFOA. However, sorry Lori but I don’t believe avoiding Teflon pans will help.
    Teflon’s had a lot of bad publicity, I keep seeing statements like “Teflon has been found to release toxic gases when overheated”. Indeed it does, but the “overheated” part is key here. Most people don’t cook at high temperatures.
    The official word from DuPont (who make Teflon) is that it shouldn’t be used at temperatures above 500oF / 260oC.
    I don’t know about in the US, but most foods that are cooked in the oven here use about 180oC / 350oF. If you use the grill or broiler, set it to 350 – 390oF or 180-200oC, and don’t let stovetop pans preheat for long – you’ll risk burning your food anyway.
    Even Cancer.org says that Teflon doesn’t cause cancer.
    I prefer the fact that I can use less oil when cooking, and of course clean-up is much easier. I’m keeping my Teflon pan.
    (One caveat: I would NOT use Teflon if I had an induction cooker)
    Having said that, there ARE issues with PFOA.
    PFOA is used to make Teflon, but it’s burnt off during the manufacturing process, and no significant amount is left in the final product.
    But people living near certain chemical plants have higher levels of PFOA. You can also be exposed to PFOA from ski wax, and from materials and carpets treated to be stain resistant.
    In other words, in order to avoid PFOA, look at your surroundings (chemical plants nearby or upstream from you?) and at anything in your home that’s stain resistant, because you’ll get far higher levels of PFOA from them.
    I’m absolutely with you on the candles (yeuch), BPA (and plastic in general), Radon testing, cleaning products, cosmetics and flame retardants.
    Thanks for a great article – it really brings home that the simple life –green living in other words – is the way to go.

  17. Really important information Lori as always! I personally don’t follow the rule that you should only use skin care that contain ingredients where you can read the name, or to avoid long chemical names. There are some very safe ingredients that have crazy long names. That rule of thumb works great for food, but in my opinion not for personal care products. Even naturally derived ingredients once processed (even a little) can have very long complicated names.

  18. You raise a good point Lindsay. I’m now remembering that are certainly ingredient names that are quite long and then have the derivative in parenthesis. Many times it’s a simple plant. Thank you for pointing that out. .

  19. Great information about things right in our homes that should be safe to consume but clearly are not! Thank you for sharing this information. There are alternatives to buying products that are toxic.

  20. Both my parents passed away after a long battle with cancer, so while it isn’t completely preventable, I try to do all I can to protect myself against it. You mentioned that exposure to the chemicals in teflon pans can cause bladder cancer. Do you know what other kinds of pots would be best to use, or is the possibility of getting cancer from teflon so small that it’s not worth switching pots? Either way, thank you for making me aware of possible cancer causing things in my home.

  21. Didn’t knew all of this until today! Wow! non stick pans and pots are quite scary. Will definitely avoid using them from now on.
    Ron@MichiganHomes recently posted..5 House Cleaning Tricks And Hacks That Is Perfect For Your Rented HomeMy Profile

  22. Thanks for the good info. In October I did a sarcastic story about the cheapest and most abundant carcinogens in many homes. See link above to go to: “Are You Paying Too Much for Your Carcinogens?”

  23. Thanks for the wonderful information. Please keep up the great work.

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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