How Healthy Is Your Home?

healthy home

Most of us view our homes as a place of health and solace. However, some of the products we bring into our environment may actually be making us sick.

While many of us read food labels to ensure our family’s health, we might not be as careful with other home and beauty products. The Environmental Working Group ( recognizes 12 common toxic chemicals found in cosmetics and personal care products.

Formaldehyde and related methylene glycol, paraformaldehyde, and quaternium 15, for example, are known carcinogens. Formaldehyde—a strong-smelling, colorless gas—is, unfortunately, used in myriad household products, including furniture, cosmetics, and personal care items, such as shampoo, lotion, shower gel, and fingernail polish. According to the American Cancer Society, formaldehyde exposure has been shown to cause cancer and/or induce skin and eye irritation, coughing, and more.

Other toxic ingredients include such hormone disrupters as dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates and isobutyl and isopropyl parabens. Hair dyes, which have long been considered carcinogenic, often contain m- and o-phenylenediamine. These chemicals may also irritate your scalp and damage DNA. Supposedly safer, organic dyes can incorporate highly unhealthy ingredients, such as resorcinol and ethanolamine, as well. You can go natural and forgo dye altogether. Or try healthier options, such as henna, which may still cause undesirable side effects, especially when used in combination with such unhealthy products as bleach.

You are what you eat, especially when it comes to PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl) substances found in some cookware, as well as stain-resistant coatings on carpets, furniture, and other household fabrics, increasing cancer risk and dampening your immune system. Even waterproof mascara and foundation may contain these lingering “forever chemicals.” The best way to avoid bringing any of these unwanted guests into your home is to read labels, ask questions, and choose organic products with recognizabl ingredients, rather than a laundry list of hard-topronounce names.