Protect Your Family
Keep an eye out for the bad stuff lurking in everyday household items and learn how to make healthier choices. By making a few simple changes, you can significantly reduce your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
Plastics are purely manmade, which means lots of chemicals. But some are safer than others. Avoid plastics that contain hormone-disrupting phthalates, especially polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which often has the recycling code 3. The other thing to look out for is toxic BPA, found in clear, shatterproof plastic and sometimes labeled with the recycling code 7.
What's behind the recycling codes on plastic? Learn which numbers are associated with breast cancer risk.Science overview of plastics chemicals >
Even so-called "microwave safe" plastic can leach chemicals into your food when it gets hot, so choose glass or ceramic containers for re-heating food. Don't cover your food with plastic wrap when you heat it, either; use a ceramic plate or an unbleached paper towel or napkin.
Consider alternatives to aluminum pans and utensils, especially those that are older. Anodizing prevents the aluminum from leaching into food, so newer, anodized aluminum cookware is considerably safer. But your best bet is stainless steel or cast iron.
Although there's no denying they make our life easier, non-stick pans contain toxic polyfluorinated chemicals that can be released at high temperatures. While we don't yet know exactly what the risks are, this is another good argument for switching to stainless steel or cast iron.
Go for the tap (or the filtered tap). Single-use containers may contain phthalates, and the big commercial water jugs may contain toxic BPA. Use a real glass for drinking at home, and pick up a reusable stainless-steel water bottle for drinks on the go. (It's also better for the environment!)
With the increased awareness of the risks of BPA, it's easy to find baby bottles and sippy cups that are labeled BPA-free. However, some of these alternative plastics have not been adequately tested. Glass and stainless steel containers are your safest bet.
Some soft plastic toys made before a ban that took effect in February 2009 contained harmful plastic softeners called phthalates. Since these items frequently end up in children's mouths you should toss older plastics items and say no to hand-me-downs.