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Beware! Some household items may be killing you

NEW DELHI: People buy the nicest homes they can afford. They spend years, sometimes decades, pouring money into nest-feathering by stocking up on creature comforts. It’s no wonder we spend 90% of our lives indoors. Like George Carlin said, it’s where all our stuff is.

Furniture. Shower curtains. Electronic items from TVs to computers to games. Carpeting, cosmetics, and even air-fresheners and soap. It’s all there to make life easier. And yet, many of those pleasant symbols carry a hidden price: they may be slowly killing you.

Nobody ever said plastics and industrial chemicals were good for healthy living. It turns out some are really quite hazardous, according to a comprehensive review in Environmental Science and Technology  by three universities and two environmental groups.

They reviewed the science and identified 45 substances – phthalates, phenols, flame retardants, fragrances, and fluorinated chemicals – that most commonly leach out of products and become a part of household air and dust. Those toxins, when floating inside your home or apartment, are linked to endocrinal, reproductive, developmental, neurological, and immunological hazards. And probably cancer.

Once in dust form, “they can enter your body ,” said Ami Zota, as sistant professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Heath at George Washington University and a co-author of the study . “We know these chemicals even at low levels can have negative health effects.”

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Children and pregnant women are often the most sensitive. Children can have many times more of a chemical in their bodies than their mothers do, according to research released in July by the Environmental Working Group  and Duke University .

TCEP, also known as Tris(2chloroethyl)phosphate, a flameretardant common to furniture, including kids’ mattresses. These chemicals don’t bind to foam, leaving them free to get all over chil dren’s hands, which inevitably end up in their mouths. Some areas have begun to ban TCEP.

The team reviewed relatively new research, published since 2000, to ensure they were identifying chemicals in current use. “Consumers can’t shop their way around chemical exposures,” Tasha Stoiber, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group warned.

A 2014 study found that the crud left on hand-wipes after use carried levels of flame-retardant that matched dust levels in each household. So, kids, wash your hands. And preferably do it with non-antibiotic soap devoid of fragrance, which may contain chemicals that are part of the problem.

STUDY BY: Environmental Science and Technology  by three universities and two environmental groups

CO-AUTHOR: Ami Zota, Assistant Professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Heath at George Washington University

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