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The Miracle - - Lifestyle -

You go or­ganic in the pro­duce aisle, makeup counter, and even at the liquor store to avoid the health im­pacts of harm­ful tox­ins. But what about your home? Could chem­i­cals seep­ing from house­hold items such as cab­i­netry, clean­ing prod­ucts, and paints be mak­ing you sick? There’s no place like home to shake off the day’s stress. But con­sider this: ac­cord­ing to the US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, in­door con­cen­tra­tions of volatile or­ganic com­pounds (VOCs)—just one group of chem­i­cals that are of­ten the source of health prob­lems—are up to 10 times higher in­doors than out­doors. VOCs (in­clud­ing ben­zene and formalde­hyde, which cause can­cer) and other chem­i­cals such as toluene (a re­pro­duc­tive toxin) and 1,4-diox­ane (a car­cino­gen) are present in house­hold prod­ucts, in­clud­ing paints, var­nishes, wood preser­va­tives, clean­ing prod­ucts, and fur­nish­ings. The toxic soup can cause eye, nose, and throat ir­ri­ta­tion headaches nau­sea dam­age to the liver, kid­ney, or cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem or can­cer. But don’t lose hope: there are plenty of places to pro­cure safer prod­ucts. Read on to find out which or­ganic, low-toxin, or nat­u­ral house­hold prod­ucts should be on your radar. Cab­i­netry Tra­di­tion­ally, your kitchen and bath­room cab­i­nets con­tain formalde­hyde, lead­ing to long-term off-gassing. “It’s al­most like you’re bring­ing in a bunch of buck­ets of formalde­hyde, sit­ting them in the mid­dle of your house, and let­ting them evap­o­rate over the course of months and years,” says Mike Reynolds, co-founder and editor of Eco­home.net. Reynolds rec­om­mends do­ing a Google search for lo­cal con­trac­tors and ask­ing them if they sup­ply formalde­hyde-free cab­i­netry. “Peo­ple are more con­cerned about health and home, so con­trac­tors are fol­low­ing suit,” says Reynolds. Paint Many paints con­tain VOCs. Look for low-VOC or VOC-free paints at your home im- prove­ment store. “I would specif­i­cally ask when you’re buy­ing paints if the colourants have [VOCs] as well,” sug­gests Reynolds. Milk paint and nat­u­ral paints can be pur­chased com­mer­cially, though recipes can be found on­line to cre­ate your own milk paint. Nat­u­ral paints are de­rived from sub­stances such as cit­rus and bal­sam, as well as min­er­als. Milk paint, which is made with milk pro­tein (called ca­sein) and hy­drated lime, with nat­u­ral pig­ments added for colour, has been used for cen­turies and is safe, non­toxic, and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. Wood fin­ishes Reynolds favours nat­u­ral oil fin­ishes over var­nishes. Not only are they aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, but now there are some avail­able that don’t con­tain VOCs. Op­tions in­clude tung oil or lin­seed oil. Mat­tresses Rest your head on rub­ber: rub­ber mat­tresses are free of glues, springs, flame re­tar­dant, and dust mite spray. “A nat­u­ral rub­ber mat­tress is about as eco-friendly and free of tox­ins as you can get,” says Lind­say Coul­ter, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green. Find these at your mat­tress re­tailer, or—as they can cost thou­sands new—go on­line shop­ping or seek out sec­ond-hand mat­tresses on plat­forms such as Craigslist. Bed­ding Of­ten, pil­lows are made from syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als such as pe­tro­leum-based polyester. For an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly pil­low that won’t off-gas, try kapok pil­lows, which are made from the silk thread of the kapok tree (Ceiba pen­tan­dra) flower. Other healthy pil­low choices in­clude or­ganic wool or buck­wheat. Or­ganic cot­ton, silk, and bam­boo du­vets are also avail­able at your lo­cal eco-bed­ding, linen, or de­part­ment store or on­line. Clean­ing prod­ucts Af­ter be­ing pres­sured by con­sumers and ad­vo­cacy groups, most ma­jor clean­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers now list the in­gre­di­ents of the prod­ucts on their web­sites. Alexan­dra Scran­ton, di­rec­tordi off sci­en­cei andd re­searchh for Women’s Voices for the Earth ad­vises tak­ing a closer look at two el­e­ments: fra­grance and dis­in­fec­tants. Fra­grances may be syn­thetic, and dis­in­fec­tants may be made of un­nec­es­sar­ily harsh chem­i­cals such as am­mo­nia and chlo­rine bleach. DIY all-pur­pose cleaner For an easy al­ter­na­tive, try this all-pur­pose cleaner for sur­faces such as coun­ter­tops, floors, and mir­rors from Women’s Voices for the Earth. Com­bine 2 cups (500 mL) white dis­tilled vine­gar, 2 cups (500 mL) wa­ter, and an op­tional 20 to 30 drops of es­sen­tial oil. Heat in a glass con­tainer in the mi­crowave un­til barely hot to en­hance clean­ing power. Con­sumers for change As di­rec­tor of science and re­search for Women’s Voices for the Earth, Alexan­dra Scran­ton has no­ticed a shift since 2007 when the or­ga­ni­za­tion started its ad­vo­cacy. Back then, com­pa­nies be­lieved con­sumers weren’t con­cerned about the in­gre­di­ents in their prod­ucts. Now, com­pa­nies are ad­ver­tis­ing that their prod­ucts don’t con­tain harm­ful prod­ucts, of­fer safer al­ter­na­tives, and highlight their nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents. “It’s very much in re­sponse to what con­sumers are ask­ing for,” says Scran­ton. David Suzuki’s Queen of Green blog­ger Lind­say Coul­ter sug­gests us­ing so­cial me­dia to send a “kind and gen­er­ous” mes­sage ask­ing com­pa­nies about in­gre­di­ents in their prod­ucts and why they’re us­ing them. “Don’t think that you don’t have a say in what prod­ucts ac­tu­ally end up on store shelves: they’re there be­cause you bought them,” says Coul­ter. Quick sweep:

10 of the eas­i­est ways to make your home healthy

•Trade sweep­ing for vac­u­um­ing with a HEPA fil­ter to suck up dust par­ti­cles so they aren’t re­leased back into your home. •Take your shoes off out­side, leav­ing be­hind the out­door chem­i­cals picked up on the soles of your shoes. •Dust. Use a mi­crofi­bre cloth to re­move dust—which could con­tain a va­ri­ety of chem­i­cals in­clud­ing pes­ti­cides, bisphe­nol A (BPA), and ph­tha­lates. •“Start to look with a green lens for all your con­sumer choices. You might start with look­ing in your home,” says Coul­ter. “What are you con­sum­ing the most of?” For ex­am­ple, if you eat a lot of ap­ples, en­sure those ap­ples are lo­cal and or­ganic. •Avoid fra­grance (listed as “par­fum” on pack­ag­ing), which of­ten con­tains many of the toxic chem­i­cals found in items from laun­dry soaps to biodegrad­able dog poop bags. •Pur­chase plants. They suck pol­lu­tants from your in­door air. •Nix air fresh­en­ers. They’re made of chem­i­cals linked to prob­lems such as headaches, de­pres­sion, and hor­mone dis­rup­tion. Open a win­dow or sim­mer herbs and spices on the stove to elim­i­nate odours. •Avoid us­ing Te­flon or non­stick cook­ware, as heat­ing this cook­ware will re­lease chem­i­cals that may cause de­vel­op­men­tal harm or can­cer. •Purge your plas­tics. Plas­tics can be toxic— many prod­ucts, in­clud­ing toys, cook­ware, and shower cur­tains, are made from the poi­sonous plas­tic polyvinyl chlo­ride (PVC).

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