Toxins are substances that can harm your health when you ingest (eat or drink), inhale, or come in contact with them.
We are well aware that various toxins in the outdoor air pose a threat to our health. However, toxins may even be present in your homes.
The seven most common toxins found in the home include:
7 major toxins in your home
- A naturally occurring metal that is used to make various products such as paints, contaminated soil or water, certain cosmetics, gasoline, batteries, solders, ceramics, and plumbing pipes.
- Due to the harmful effects of lead on health, the federal government started phasing out lead in gasoline in 1973 and completely eliminated it by 1996.
- Exposure to high levels of lead can lead to conditions such as:
- Moreover, prolonged lead exposure can result in heart diseases, high blood pressure, and cancer.
- Lead in the pregnant woman’s blood can cross the placenta and harm the unborn baby, causing brain damage, stillbirth, or abortion.
- A naturally occurring odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas.
- Radon formed in soil or rocks can enter buildings (including homes, offices, and schools) through cracks in walls, foundations, basements, and other entry points. Additionally, radon can enter indoors through water coming from showerheads or faucets.
- The indoor radon then decays to release various cancer-causing particles that can be inhaled.
- Although outdoor radon concentration is generally low, radon trapped indoors can increase to very high levels.
- Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States (the first being smoking). It is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
- Indoor radon testing can be done easily and inexpensively. It can be done through professional testing or by using electronic or do-it-yourself detectors.
- A collective term for a group of heat and corrosion-resistant minerals.
- Asbestos can be mixed with other materials to enhance its strength. It is used for making various products such as fireproofing material, automobile brakes, insulation, and wallboard materials.
- Asbestos exposure can occur by inhaling particles in the air. It can result in pleural effusion, lung cancer, and other types of cancer such as cancer of the larynx, kidney, and gut.
- Asbestos exposure can cause a disease called asbestosis that causes permanent lung damage.
- Tobacco smoke
- Tobacco contains various harmful chemicals that have been associated with various types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and lung diseases. Over 4,000 types of compounds are released from tobacco smoke, and over 40 of these can cause cancer.
- Exposure can occur through active or passive smoking (inhaling smoke when someone else is smoking).
- Smoking is the top cause of lung cancer in the United States.
- Infants and children exposed to tobacco smoke have compromised lung function and are at a high risk of lung infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
- Also called plasticizers, phthalates are synthetic (manmade) compounds used for making durable plastics, personal care products (such as shampoo, soap, and hair spray), and vinyl flooring.
- Phthalate exposure can occur by eating or drinking contaminated products or inhaling phthalate particles in the air.
- Phthalate exposure in animals has been found to harm the reproductive system. Human studies on phthalate exposure, however, are limited.
- Research done so far suggests that phthalates may act as endocrine disruptors (substances that interfere with hormone action in the body by mimicking certain hormones, changing the levels of certain hormones, or blocking the action of hormones). This may result in problems such as the early onset of puberty or low testosterone levels or low sperm count in men.
- Check for the label while buying toys or personal care products to avoid phthalate exposure.
- Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
- Also called perfluorochemicals, PFCs are a group of chemicals used to make heat, oil, grease, and water-resistant products such as nonstick pans, microwave-safe food packaging, ski wax, and firefighting foams, and various building, medical, aerospace, and automotive products. They may be found in cleanings and personal care products such as dental floss and shampoo.
- Exposure can occur by consuming contaminated foods or drinks. Studies report that PFC exposure can result in hormone dysfunction, liver damage, immune dysfunction, and cancer.
- PFC exposure during pregnancy may result in complications such as low-birth-weight babies.
- Flame retardants
- As the name suggests, these chemicals are added to various materials to prevent the start of a fire or slow down its spread to facilitate extinguishing it, prevent damage, and provide enough escape time. Flame retardants may be found in electronic devices, mattresses, upholstery, carpets, and construction materials.
- Exposure may occur through inhalation or consumption of contaminated foods or drinks.
- Flame retardants can act as endocrine disruptors and lead to reproductive or thyroid dysfunction. Moreover, they can eventually damage the brain, cause cancer, impair immunity, and hamper fetal and child development.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Toxins Can Be in Your Home Related Articles
Asbestos (Exposure Dangers, Testing, Symptoms)
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is found in soil and rock. Asbestos exposure occurs when asbestos fibers are disturbed and released into the air then and inhaled. Inhaling asbestos fibers causes three lung diseases; asbestosis, lung cancer, and noncancerous lung disease. In asbestosis, the asbestos fibers scar the lungs. Asbestosis and lung cancer have the same symptoms of cough and shortness of breath.
Asbestosis progresses slowly, frequently even 20 to 40 years after asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure include can come from a variety of products, for example, drinking water due to the decay of asbestos cement in water mains and erosion of natural deposits (which increases your risk of developing benign intestinal polyps), insulation, vinyl floor tiles, some paints and patching compounds, oil and coal furnaces and doors, heat-resistant fabrics, and automobiles brakes and clutches. Some uses of asbestos are banned; however, most are not.
Examples of products banned from using asbestos are commercial, corrugated, and specialty paper, flooring felt, and artificial fireplace embers that contain asbestos. Examples of products not banned from using asbestos include vinyl flooring, clothing, roof and non-roof coatings, friction materials, and some car components.Cancers of the larynx, throat, kidney, esophagusand gallbladder have been linked to asbestos exposure. Treatment is dependent upon the type of condition related to asbestos exposure.
How Long Does It Take to Get Lead Poisoning?Lead poisoning usually takes months or years of exposure to a small amount of lead at home, work or daycare. When exposed to large amounts of lead, it can quickly lead to lead poisoning (acute poisoning).
Is the Black Mold in My Shower Toxic?Mold in your shower can cause annoying symptoms and health problems in people who are sensitive to it. Learn the signs of mold exposure, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
Lead PoisoningLead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children. Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead.
Lung Disease & Respiratory Health: How to Prevent Mold in Your HomeMoisture, humidity, dampness -- all can cause mold to grow in your home. Try these tips to prevent mold buildup.
Mold ExposureMold exposure may cause symptoms in people who are sensitive to molds. Symptoms of mold allergy include sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, coughing, redness of the eyes, and rash. Prevent mold growth by keeping indoor humidity low, between 30%-50%, using bathroom fans when showering, repairing plumbing leaks quickly, and using an air conditioner during humid seasons.
What Does Black Mold Do To You?Black mold is one of many molds that can cause allergic symptoms like sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and skin rashes. Learn the signs of mold exposure, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
What Does Lead Poisoning Do To Adults?Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the earth’s crust. Excess lead buildup in the body can cause lead poisoning. Although lead poisoning primarily affects children, it can also prove to be dangerous in adults.