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TOP 12 TOXINS: WHAT THEY CAUSE & WHERE TO FIND THEM

The following is my compiled list of the top 15 toxins I have found people are exposed to most in their everyday home environments, what that exposure can do to their health and where they would be getting exposed from. Identifying and knowing these is the first step to taking action against them, so read on to get started!

1. Flame Retardants

Flame retardants refer to a variety of chemicals with different chemistries, different properties and molecular structures, but when combined can act as a flame retardant. These flame retardants are applied to materials to prevent the start or slow the growth of fire. They have been used in many consumer and industrial products since the 70’s, to decrease the ability of materials to ignite during a fire. Flame retardants can bioaccumulate in our bodies, meaning that it builds up over time and can trigger disease.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Neurodevelopmental delays
  • Cancer
  • Low IQ
  • Early onset puberty
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Immune system problems
  • Reproductive toxicity/ infertility
  • Birth defects
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity

Where it is Found:

  • Upholstered furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Couches
  • Chairs
  • Carpets
  • Curtains
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Electronics
  • Electronic wires & cables
  • Textiles
  • Car seats
  • House dust

2. Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, are chemicals emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs in the home can be 10x higher than the air outdoors due to the high number of VOC emitting products in our home environments.  

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Neurological issues (memory loss,
    tingling in extremities, cognitive and
    motor dysfunction) 
  • Immune system issues 
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Mood swings 
  • Developmental issues (mental
    retardation, delayed development) 
  • Endocrine disruption 
  • Cancer 
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Neurological issues (memory loss,
    tingling in extremities, cognitive and
    motor dysfunction) 
  • Immune system issues 
  • Insomnia

Where it is Found:

  • Fragranced items (personal care products, candles, air fresheners) 
  • Household cleaners 
  • Particle board
  • MDF furniture 
  • Paints 
  • Varnishes 
  • Cosmetics 
  • Art supplies 
  • Dry cleaned clothing 
  • Building materials 
  • Adhesives 
  • Permanent markers

3. Perfluorinated compounds

Perfluorinated compounds, also referred to as PFCs/PFAS,  are used to make products that are stick & stain resistant (think non-stick cookware)! These PFCs & PFAS are also getting a lot of attention for being a common drinking water contaminate. These types of chemicals can stay in the body for 3-8 years, and will stay forever in the environment.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Asthma
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Thyroid disease / hypothyroidism
  • Hyperactivity/ ADHD
  • Reproductive issues / infertility
  • Low birth weight
  • Cancer (kidney & testicular)
  • Weight gain, obesity & metabolic
    disorders

Where it is Found:

  • Non-stick cookware
  • Food packaging
  • Outdoor gear:
    • Rain coats
    • Tents
    • Backpacks
  • Contaminated drinking water
  • Firefighting foam
  • Stain and water resistant treatments
  • Dental Floss
  • Rain and wind-proof clothing

4. Organophosphate Pesticides

Organophosphate pesticides are a group of human-made chemicals that poison insects and mammals. They are sprayed on food crops, golf courses, parks, and lawns and are therefore most commonly found on products that come from those spaces.  

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s
  • Weight gain & obesity
  • Infertility
  • Cancer
  • Reduced IQ
  • Behavioral issues, ADHD, & Autism
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Endocrine disruption

Where it is Found:

  • Conventionally grown produce
  • Home & garden treatments
  • Veterinary products (flea & tick
    treatments)
  • Lice treatments
  • Contaminated drinking water
  • Farmed seafood
  • House dust

5. Benzene

Benzene is a colorless chemical (sometimes yellow looking, depending on room temperature) that has a sweet odor and is highly flammable. It is found in many household items such as furniture, detergents, glues etc. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Bone marrow issues
  • Cancer
  • Anemia
  • Immune system, issues
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

Where it is Found:

  • Glues
  • Furniture wax
  • Detergents
  • Rubbers
  • Industrial cleaning and degreasing formulations
  • Adhesives
  • Cleaning products
  • Paint strippers
  • Tobacco smoke 
  • Gasoline

6. Phalates

This is a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers. They are used in fragranced products, vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes, and personal-care products.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • ADHD & decreases in IQ
  • Autism & other behavioral disorders
  • Asthma
  • Breast cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Reproductive birth defects
    (hypospadias)
  • Early breast development / early
    onset puberty
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weight gain & obesity
  • Diabetes & insulin resistance
  • Sperm damage & reduced fertility in
    men & women
  • Language delays in children

Where it is Found:

  • Scented candles & air
    fresheners
  • Personal care products (all)
  • Household cleaners &
    laundry products
  • Nail polish
  • Shower
    curtains
  • Toys like rubber ducks
  • Food packaging
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Window blinds
  • Electric wiring
  • House dust

7. BPA & BPA Plasticizers

Bisphenol-a was first developed as a synthetic estrogen, and it’s been used in the manufacturing of plastics since the 1950’s, now making its way into our products and bodies. This can cause a seriously wide range of serious health issues.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Weight gain, obesity & metabolic
    disorders
  • Diabetes & insulin resistance
  • Heart disease
  • Cancers (breast & prostate)
  • Fertility issues
  • Developmental & behavioral issues
    in children (ADHD, impaired
    learning)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
    (ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s disease)

Where it is Found:

  • Cash register receipts &
    thermal papers
  • Polycarbonate plastics
    (blenders, food processors, etc)
  • Reusable water bottles &
    plastic travel cups
  • Canned food
  • Dental sealants

8. Xylene

Xylene is a toxic solvent. It’s a type of VOC found in many common household products, such as paints, lacquers, adhesives, rust preventers, thinners, gasoline, and permanent magic markers.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Impaired function of the lungs
  • Delayed response to a visual stimulus
  • Impaired memory
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Changes in the liver and kidneys.
  • Nervous system damage
  • Headaches
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Balance issues
  • Heart damage

Where it is Found:

  •  Industrial sources
  • Automobile exhaust 
  • Contaminated air
  • Gasoline
  • Paint
  • Varnish
  • Shellac
  • Rust preventives
  • Cigarette smoke

9. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in making building materials and many household products. Materials containing formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas or vapor into the air. Unfortunately, our homes are filled with these types of materials. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Cancer
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Burning of eyes, nose, throat
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation
  • Neurological Effects

Where it is Found:

  • Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products:
    • Hardwood plywood
    • Particleboard
    • Medium-density fiberboard
  • Building materials
  • Insulation
  • Glues
  • Permanent press fabrics
  • Paints
  • Fertilizer
  • Pesticides
  • Coatings
  • Lacquers and finishes
  • Paper products
  • Preservatives in
    • Medicines
    • Cosmetics
    •  Dishwashing liquids
    • Fabric softeners

10. Lead

Lead is a neurotoxic heavy metal with no safe level of exposure. This can cause many health issues both short and long-term, and can be very very serious at any level of exposure.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Early onset menopause
  • Miscarriage, stillbirths, infertility
  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Depression & fatigue
  • Headaches and slurred speak
  • Loss of coordination
  • Developmental delays /
    learning difficulties
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Hearing loss
  • ADHD & antisocial behavior
  • Lowered IQ
  • Muscle weakness, tremors

Where it is Found:

  • Contaminated water
  • Plumbing & water fixtures
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Paint
  • Imported candy
  • Some paints (toys,
    dishware)
  • Leaded crystal
  • Pottery
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Vinyl blinds
  • Electric cords
  • PVC products
  • House dust

11. Polychlorinated Biphenols

PCB’s are a family of chemicals that are highly toxic industrial compounds. They can cause very serious health issues to people of all ages and have been found in air, water, soil, fish, etc. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Developmental & cognitive issues
    in children
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Cancers (brain, liver, skin, breast, &
    lymphatic)
  • Lowered sperm count in men
  • Infertility
  • Endometriosis
  • Birth defects
  • Thyroid disruption
  • Low IQ
  • Attention & memory problems
  • Diabetes

Where it is Found:

  • High fat foods (dairy, animal fats)
  • Contaminated seafood
  • Contaminated water
  • Consumer & electrical products made before 1977
  • House dust

12. Toluene

Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell. It’s used in many paints, permanent markers. and glues.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Irritation of the eyes and nose
  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness 
  • Tingling of the skin
  • Dermatitis 
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage

Where it is Found:

  • Nail polish
  • Glues
  • Inks 
  • Stain removers.
  • Spray paints
  • Primers
  • Multipurpose cleaners (liquid or aerosol)
  • Contact cement
  • Floor polish
  • Paint thinners
  • Bathmats
  • Wood sealers
  • Some coloring pens and markers

Resources

“Benzene: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/benzene.

“Flame Retardants.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/flame_retardants/index.cfm.

“Formaldehyde.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/formaldehyde/index.cfm.

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Health Effects Associated with Exposures During the Gulf War. “Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides in Humans.” Gulf War and Health: Volume 1. Depleted Uranium, Sarin, Pyridostigmine Bromide, Vaccines., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222858/.

Kandyala, Reena, et al. “Xylene: An Overview of Its Health Hazards and Preventive Measures.” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology : JOMFP, Medknow Publications, Jan. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996004/.

Moon, Min Kyong. “Concern about the Safety of Bisphenol A Substitutes.” Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, Korean Diabetes Association, Feb. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6387873/.

“Phthalates: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/phthalates.

“Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs.

Stanifer, John W, et al. “Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health: A Scoping Review.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN, American Society of Nephrology, 8 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218824/.

Stanifer, John W, et al. “Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health: A Scoping Review.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN, American Society of Nephrology, 8 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218824/.

Tchounwou, Paul B, et al. “Heavy Metal Toxicity and the Environment.” Experientia Supplementum (2012), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144270/.

“Toluene: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/toluene.

“Volatile Organic Compuounds (VOCs): Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds-vocs.

Warner, Genoa R, and Jodi A Flaws. “Common Bisphenol A Replacements Are Reproductive Toxicants.” Nature Reviews. Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427910/.

The following is my compiled list of the top 15 toxins I have found people are exposed to most in their everyday home environments, what that exposure can do to their health and where they would be getting exposed from. Identifying and knowing these is the first step to taking action against them, so read on to get started!

1. Flame Retardants

Flame retardants refer to a variety of chemicals with different chemistries, different properties and molecular structures, but when combined can act as a flame retardant. These flame retardants are applied to materials to prevent the start or slow the growth of fire. They have been used in many consumer and industrial products since the 70’s, to decrease the ability of materials to ignite during a fire. Flame retardants can bioaccumulate in our bodies, meaning that it builds up over time and can trigger disease.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Neurodevelopmental delays
  • Cancer
  • Low IQ
  • Early onset puberty
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Immune system problems
  • Reproductive toxicity/ infertility
  • Birth defects
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity

Where it is Found:

  • Upholstered furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Couches
  • Chairs
  • Carpets
  • Curtains
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Electronics
  • Electronic wires & cables
  • Textiles
  • Car seats
  • House dust

2. Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, are chemicals emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs in the home can be 10x higher than the air outdoors due to the high number of VOC emitting products in our home environments.  

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Neurological issues (memory loss,
    tingling in extremities, cognitive and
    motor dysfunction) 
  • Immune system issues 
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Mood swings 
  • Developmental issues (mental
    retardation, delayed development) 
  • Endocrine disruption 
  • Cancer 
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Neurological issues (memory loss,
    tingling in extremities, cognitive and
    motor dysfunction) 
  • Immune system issues 
  • Insomnia

Where it is Found:

  • Fragranced items (personal care products, candles, air fresheners) 
  • Household cleaners 
  • Particle board
  • MDF furniture 
  • Paints 
  • Varnishes 
  • Cosmetics 
  • Art supplies 
  • Dry cleaned clothing 
  • Building materials 
  • Adhesives 
  • Permanent markers

3. Perfluorinated compounds

Perfluorinated compounds, also referred to as PFCs/PFAS,  are used to make products that are stick & stain resistant (think non-stick cookware)! These PFCs & PFAS are also getting a lot of attention for being a common drinking water contaminate. These types of chemicals can stay in the body for 3-8 years, and will stay forever in the environment.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Asthma
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Thyroid disease / hypothyroidism
  • Hyperactivity/ ADHD
  • Reproductive issues / infertility
  • Low birth weight
  • Cancer (kidney & testicular)
  • Weight gain, obesity & metabolic
    disorders

Where it is Found:

  • Non-stick cookware
  • Food packaging
  • Outdoor gear:
    • Rain coats
    • Tents
    • Backpacks
  • Contaminated drinking water
  • Firefighting foam
  • Stain and water resistant treatments
  • Dental Floss
  • Rain and wind-proof clothing

4. Organophosphate Pesticides

Organophosphate pesticides are a group of human-made chemicals that poison insects and mammals. They are sprayed on food crops, golf courses, parks, and lawns and are therefore most commonly found on products that come from those spaces.  

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s
  • Weight gain & obesity
  • Infertility
  • Cancer
  • Reduced IQ
  • Behavioral issues, ADHD, & Autism
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Endocrine disruption

Where it is Found:

  • Conventionally grown produce
  • Home & garden treatments
  • Veterinary products (flea & tick
    treatments)
  • Lice treatments
  • Contaminated drinking water
  • Farmed seafood
  • House dust

5. Benzene

Benzene is a colorless chemical (sometimes yellow looking, depending on room temperature) that has a sweet odor and is highly flammable. It is found in many household items such as furniture, detergents, glues etc. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Bone marrow issues
  • Cancer
  • Anemia
  • Immune system, issues
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

Where it is Found:

  • Glues
  • Furniture wax
  • Detergents
  • Rubbers
  • Industrial cleaning and degreasing formulations
  • Adhesives
  • Cleaning products
  • Paint strippers
  • Tobacco smoke 
  • Gasoline

6. Phalates

This is a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers. They are used in fragranced products, vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes, and personal-care products.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • ADHD & decreases in IQ
  • Autism & other behavioral disorders
  • Asthma
  • Breast cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Reproductive birth defects
    (hypospadias)
  • Early breast development / early
    onset puberty
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weight gain & obesity
  • Diabetes & insulin resistance
  • Sperm damage & reduced fertility in
    men & women
  • Language delays in children

Where it is Found:

  • Scented candles & air
    fresheners
  • Personal care products (all)
  • Household cleaners &
    laundry products
  • Nail polish
  • Shower
    curtains
  • Toys like rubber ducks
  • Food packaging
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Window blinds
  • Electric wiring
  • House dust

7. BPA & BPA Plasticizers

Bisphenol-a was first developed as a synthetic estrogen, and it’s been used in the manufacturing of plastics since the 1950’s, now making its way into our products and bodies. This can cause a seriously wide range of serious health issues.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Weight gain, obesity & metabolic
    disorders
  • Diabetes & insulin resistance
  • Heart disease
  • Cancers (breast & prostate)
  • Fertility issues
  • Developmental & behavioral issues
    in children (ADHD, impaired
    learning)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
    (ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s disease)

Where it is Found:

  • Cash register receipts &
    thermal papers
  • Polycarbonate plastics
    (blenders, food processors, etc)
  • Reusable water bottles &
    plastic travel cups
  • Canned food
  • Dental sealants

8. Xylene

Xylene is a toxic solvent. It’s a type of VOC found in many common household products, such as paints, lacquers, adhesives, rust preventers, thinners, gasoline, and permanent magic markers.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Impaired function of the lungs
  • Delayed response to a visual stimulus
  • Impaired memory
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Changes in the liver and kidneys.
  • Nervous system damage
  • Headaches
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Balance issues
  • Heart damage

Where it is Found:

  •  Industrial sources
  • Automobile exhaust 
  • Contaminated air
  • Gasoline
  • Paint
  • Varnish
  • Shellac
  • Rust preventives
  • Cigarette smoke

9. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in making building materials and many household products. Materials containing formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas or vapor into the air. Unfortunately, our homes are filled with these types of materials. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Cancer
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Burning of eyes, nose, throat
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation
  • Neurological Effects

Where it is Found:

  • Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products:
    • Hardwood plywood
    • Particleboard
    • Medium-density fiberboard
  • Building materials
  • Insulation
  • Glues
  • Permanent press fabrics
  • Paints
  • Fertilizer
  • Pesticides
  • Coatings
  • Lacquers and finishes
  • Paper products
  • Preservatives in
    • Medicines
    • Cosmetics
    •  Dishwashing liquids
    • Fabric softeners

10. Lead

Lead is a neurotoxic heavy metal with no safe level of exposure. This can cause many health issues both short and long-term, and can be very very serious at any level of exposure.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Early onset menopause
  • Miscarriage, stillbirths, infertility
  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Depression & fatigue
  • Headaches and slurred speak
  • Loss of coordination
  • Developmental delays /
    learning difficulties
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Hearing loss
  • ADHD & antisocial behavior
  • Lowered IQ
  • Muscle weakness, tremors

Where it is Found:

  • Contaminated water
  • Plumbing & water fixtures
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Paint
  • Imported candy
  • Some paints (toys,
    dishware)
  • Leaded crystal
  • Pottery
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Vinyl blinds
  • Electric cords
  • PVC products
  • House dust

11. Polychlorinated Biphenols

PCB’s are a family of chemicals that are highly toxic industrial compounds. They can cause very serious health issues to people of all ages and have been found in air, water, soil, fish, etc. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Developmental & cognitive issues
    in children
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Cancers (brain, liver, skin, breast, &
    lymphatic)
  • Lowered sperm count in men
  • Infertility
  • Endometriosis
  • Birth defects
  • Thyroid disruption
  • Low IQ
  • Attention & memory problems
  • Diabetes

Where it is Found:

  • High fat foods (dairy, animal fats)
  • Contaminated seafood
  • Contaminated water
  • Consumer & electrical products made before 1977
  • House dust

12. Toluene

Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell. It’s used in many paints, permanent markers. and glues.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Irritation of the eyes and nose
  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness 
  • Tingling of the skin
  • Dermatitis 
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage

Where it is Found:

  • Nail polish
  • Glues
  • Inks 
  • Stain removers.
  • Spray paints
  • Primers
  • Multipurpose cleaners (liquid or aerosol)
  • Contact cement
  • Floor polish
  • Paint thinners
  • Bathmats
  • Wood sealers
  • Some coloring pens and markers

Resources

“Benzene: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/benzene.

“Flame Retardants.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/flame_retardants/index.cfm.

“Formaldehyde.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/formaldehyde/index.cfm.

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Health Effects Associated with Exposures During the Gulf War. “Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides in Humans.” Gulf War and Health: Volume 1. Depleted Uranium, Sarin, Pyridostigmine Bromide, Vaccines., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222858/.

Kandyala, Reena, et al. “Xylene: An Overview of Its Health Hazards and Preventive Measures.” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology : JOMFP, Medknow Publications, Jan. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996004/.

Moon, Min Kyong. “Concern about the Safety of Bisphenol A Substitutes.” Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, Korean Diabetes Association, Feb. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6387873/.

“Phthalates: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/phthalates.

“Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs.

Stanifer, John W, et al. “Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health: A Scoping Review.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN, American Society of Nephrology, 8 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218824/.

Stanifer, John W, et al. “Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health: A Scoping Review.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN, American Society of Nephrology, 8 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218824/.

Tchounwou, Paul B, et al. “Heavy Metal Toxicity and the Environment.” Experientia Supplementum (2012), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144270/.

“Toluene: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/toluene.

“Volatile Organic Compuounds (VOCs): Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds-vocs.

Warner, Genoa R, and Jodi A Flaws. “Common Bisphenol A Replacements Are Reproductive Toxicants.” Nature Reviews. Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427910/.

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The following is my compiled list of the top 15 toxins I have found people are exposed to most in their everyday home environments, what that exposure can do to their health and where they would be getting exposed from. Identifying and knowing these is the first step to taking action against them, so read on to get started!

1. Flame Retardants

Flame retardants refer to a variety of chemicals with different chemistries, different properties and molecular structures, but when combined can act as a flame retardant. These flame retardants are applied to materials to prevent the start or slow the growth of fire. They have been used in many consumer and industrial products since the 70’s, to decrease the ability of materials to ignite during a fire. Flame retardants can bioaccumulate in our bodies, meaning that it builds up over time and can trigger disease.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Neurodevelopmental delays
  • Cancer
  • Low IQ
  • Early onset puberty
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Immune system problems
  • Reproductive toxicity/ infertility
  • Birth defects
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity

Where it is Found:

  • Upholstered furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Couches
  • Chairs
  • Carpets
  • Curtains
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Electronics
  • Electronic wires & cables
  • Textiles
  • Car seats
  • House dust

2. Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, are chemicals emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs in the home can be 10x higher than the air outdoors due to the high number of VOC emitting products in our home environments.  

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Neurological issues (memory loss,
    tingling in extremities, cognitive and
    motor dysfunction) 
  • Immune system issues 
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Mood swings 
  • Developmental issues (mental
    retardation, delayed development) 
  • Endocrine disruption 
  • Cancer 
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Neurological issues (memory loss,
    tingling in extremities, cognitive and
    motor dysfunction) 
  • Immune system issues 
  • Insomnia

Where it is Found:

  • Fragranced items (personal care products, candles, air fresheners) 
  • Household cleaners 
  • Particle board
  • MDF furniture 
  • Paints 
  • Varnishes 
  • Cosmetics 
  • Art supplies 
  • Dry cleaned clothing 
  • Building materials 
  • Adhesives 
  • Permanent markers

3. Perfluorinated compounds

Perfluorinated compounds, also referred to as PFCs/PFAS,  are used to make products that are stick & stain resistant (think non-stick cookware)! These PFCs & PFAS are also getting a lot of attention for being a common drinking water contaminate. These types of chemicals can stay in the body for 3-8 years, and will stay forever in the environment.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Asthma
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Thyroid disease / hypothyroidism
  • Hyperactivity/ ADHD
  • Reproductive issues / infertility
  • Low birth weight
  • Cancer (kidney & testicular)
  • Weight gain, obesity & metabolic
    disorders

Where it is Found:

  • Non-stick cookware
  • Food packaging
  • Outdoor gear:
    • Rain coats
    • Tents
    • Backpacks
  • Contaminated drinking water
  • Firefighting foam
  • Stain and water resistant treatments
  • Dental Floss
  • Rain and wind-proof clothing

4. Organophosphate Pesticides

Organophosphate pesticides are a group of human-made chemicals that poison insects and mammals. They are sprayed on food crops, golf courses, parks, and lawns and are therefore most commonly found on products that come from those spaces.  

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s
  • Weight gain & obesity
  • Infertility
  • Cancer
  • Reduced IQ
  • Behavioral issues, ADHD, & Autism
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Endocrine disruption

Where it is Found:

  • Conventionally grown produce
  • Home & garden treatments
  • Veterinary products (flea & tick
    treatments)
  • Lice treatments
  • Contaminated drinking water
  • Farmed seafood
  • House dust

5. Benzene

Benzene is a colorless chemical (sometimes yellow looking, depending on room temperature) that has a sweet odor and is highly flammable. It is found in many household items such as furniture, detergents, glues etc. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Bone marrow issues
  • Cancer
  • Anemia
  • Immune system, issues
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

Where it is Found:

  • Glues
  • Furniture wax
  • Detergents
  • Rubbers
  • Industrial cleaning and degreasing formulations
  • Adhesives
  • Cleaning products
  • Paint strippers
  • Tobacco smoke 
  • Gasoline

6. Phalates

This is a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers. They are used in fragranced products, vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes, and personal-care products.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • ADHD & decreases in IQ
  • Autism & other behavioral disorders
  • Asthma
  • Breast cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Reproductive birth defects
    (hypospadias)
  • Early breast development / early
    onset puberty
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weight gain & obesity
  • Diabetes & insulin resistance
  • Sperm damage & reduced fertility in
    men & women
  • Language delays in children

Where it is Found:

  • Scented candles & air
    fresheners
  • Personal care products (all)
  • Household cleaners &
    laundry products
  • Nail polish
  • Shower
    curtains
  • Toys like rubber ducks
  • Food packaging
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Window blinds
  • Electric wiring
  • House dust

7. BPA & BPA Plasticizers

Bisphenol-a was first developed as a synthetic estrogen, and it’s been used in the manufacturing of plastics since the 1950’s, now making its way into our products and bodies. This can cause a seriously wide range of serious health issues.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Weight gain, obesity & metabolic
    disorders
  • Diabetes & insulin resistance
  • Heart disease
  • Cancers (breast & prostate)
  • Fertility issues
  • Developmental & behavioral issues
    in children (ADHD, impaired
    learning)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
    (ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s disease)

Where it is Found:

  • Cash register receipts &
    thermal papers
  • Polycarbonate plastics
    (blenders, food processors, etc)
  • Reusable water bottles &
    plastic travel cups
  • Canned food
  • Dental sealants

8. Xylene

Xylene is a toxic solvent. It’s a type of VOC found in many common household products, such as paints, lacquers, adhesives, rust preventers, thinners, gasoline, and permanent magic markers.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Impaired function of the lungs
  • Delayed response to a visual stimulus
  • Impaired memory
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Changes in the liver and kidneys.
  • Nervous system damage
  • Headaches
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Balance issues
  • Heart damage

Where it is Found:

  •  Industrial sources
  • Automobile exhaust 
  • Contaminated air
  • Gasoline
  • Paint
  • Varnish
  • Shellac
  • Rust preventives
  • Cigarette smoke

9. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in making building materials and many household products. Materials containing formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas or vapor into the air. Unfortunately, our homes are filled with these types of materials. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Cancer
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Burning of eyes, nose, throat
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation
  • Neurological Effects

Where it is Found:

  • Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products:
    • Hardwood plywood
    • Particleboard
    • Medium-density fiberboard
  • Building materials
  • Insulation
  • Glues
  • Permanent press fabrics
  • Paints
  • Fertilizer
  • Pesticides
  • Coatings
  • Lacquers and finishes
  • Paper products
  • Preservatives in
    • Medicines
    • Cosmetics
    •  Dishwashing liquids
    • Fabric softeners

10. Lead

Lead is a neurotoxic heavy metal with no safe level of exposure. This can cause many health issues both short and long-term, and can be very very serious at any level of exposure.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Early onset menopause
  • Miscarriage, stillbirths, infertility
  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Depression & fatigue
  • Headaches and slurred speak
  • Loss of coordination
  • Developmental delays /
    learning difficulties
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Hearing loss
  • ADHD & antisocial behavior
  • Lowered IQ
  • Muscle weakness, tremors

Where it is Found:

  • Contaminated water
  • Plumbing & water fixtures
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Paint
  • Imported candy
  • Some paints (toys,
    dishware)
  • Leaded crystal
  • Pottery
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Vinyl blinds
  • Electric cords
  • PVC products
  • House dust

11. Polychlorinated Biphenols

PCB’s are a family of chemicals that are highly toxic industrial compounds. They can cause very serious health issues to people of all ages and have been found in air, water, soil, fish, etc. 

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Developmental & cognitive issues
    in children
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Cancers (brain, liver, skin, breast, &
    lymphatic)
  • Lowered sperm count in men
  • Infertility
  • Endometriosis
  • Birth defects
  • Thyroid disruption
  • Low IQ
  • Attention & memory problems
  • Diabetes

Where it is Found:

  • High fat foods (dairy, animal fats)
  • Contaminated seafood
  • Contaminated water
  • Consumer & electrical products made before 1977
  • House dust

12. Toluene

Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell. It’s used in many paints, permanent markers. and glues.

Health Issues it Causes:

  • Irritation of the eyes and nose
  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness 
  • Tingling of the skin
  • Dermatitis 
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage

Where it is Found:

  • Nail polish
  • Glues
  • Inks 
  • Stain removers.
  • Spray paints
  • Primers
  • Multipurpose cleaners (liquid or aerosol)
  • Contact cement
  • Floor polish
  • Paint thinners
  • Bathmats
  • Wood sealers
  • Some coloring pens and markers

Resources

“Benzene: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/benzene.

“Flame Retardants.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/flame_retardants/index.cfm.

“Formaldehyde.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/formaldehyde/index.cfm.

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Health Effects Associated with Exposures During the Gulf War. “Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides in Humans.” Gulf War and Health: Volume 1. Depleted Uranium, Sarin, Pyridostigmine Bromide, Vaccines., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222858/.

Kandyala, Reena, et al. “Xylene: An Overview of Its Health Hazards and Preventive Measures.” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology : JOMFP, Medknow Publications, Jan. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996004/.

Moon, Min Kyong. “Concern about the Safety of Bisphenol A Substitutes.” Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, Korean Diabetes Association, Feb. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6387873/.

“Phthalates: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/phthalates.

“Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs.

Stanifer, John W, et al. “Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health: A Scoping Review.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN, American Society of Nephrology, 8 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218824/.

Stanifer, John W, et al. “Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health: A Scoping Review.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN, American Society of Nephrology, 8 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218824/.

Tchounwou, Paul B, et al. “Heavy Metal Toxicity and the Environment.” Experientia Supplementum (2012), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144270/.

“Toluene: Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/toluene.

“Volatile Organic Compuounds (VOCs): Your Environment, Your Health | National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds-vocs.

Warner, Genoa R, and Jodi A Flaws. “Common Bisphenol A Replacements Are Reproductive Toxicants.” Nature Reviews. Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427910/.

Health and Home

Health & Home is an interior design-based business that seeks to help others create healthy homes through minimizing toxins, optimizing design and maximizing health. We do so by addressing the build of the home, the design of the space, the decor and even the products used in the home, so our clients can live their healthiest life!

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