What better time than back-to-school season -- with its new year, starting-over mindset -- to make health resolutions? Save the weight-loss, new-job resolutions for January and focus now on making your home healthier. Get started with these tips:
1. Toss toxic cleaning supplies: Recently President Obama signed legislation to overhaul the nation's primary chemical safety law, requiring new testing and regulation of chemicals used in everyday products such as bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents. These products can contain ingredients linked to asthma, cancer, hormone disruption, damage to the brain or nervous tissue, and other health problems. Do your own regulating by purging the products in your home that contain toxic chemicals.
Check labels and websites for ingredients, and avoid buying products containing the following: phthalates (found in many fragranced products, including toilet paper); triclosan (found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial”); 2-butoxyethanol (found in window, kitchen and multipurpose cleaners); and chlorine (found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, and laundry whiteners).
Believe it or not, most homes can be cleaned with just a few non-toxic ingredients, such as vinegar, baking soda, a HEPA vacuum, and microfiber cloths and mops.
2. Purge your pantry: Start by ridding your pantry of ultra-processed foods (items with flavorings, emulsifiers, and other additives), which make up more than half of all calories consumed in the U.S. diet, and contribute nearly 90% of all added sugar intake! Added sugar intake increases the risk of obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions. Also work toward replacing plastic containers – especially those that contain bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, known hormone disruptors, with glass, and never microwave food in plastic containers. Toss old, scratched, or cracked containers, because they may leach out more plasticizers.
3. Control house dust: Not only does house dust aggravate allergies, it may contain hazardous chemicals, including lead, fire retardants, pesticides, and other chemicals, even if these chemicals were used decades earlier in your home. Vacuum at least two times each week, especially wherever you have wall-to-wall carpeting. Also, make sure your vacuum has strong suction and a HEPA filter so that dust and dirt go in the bag. Use a wet mop on uncarpeted floors and be sure to wipe furniture with a wet or microfiber cloth.