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4 simple ways to reduce your exposure to common household toxins

The conversation surrounding toxins is rather “en vogue” right now, which can unfortunately cause some people to dismiss important information as simply part of the chatter. Although toxins are a hot topic, reducing your exposure to toxins should not be taken lightly.

Everyday toxins may sound like small potatoes, but exposure to such chemicals — like asbestos — can have serious health ramifications for you and your household. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a preventable cancer.

1. Test your home for asbestos and radon

Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so air quality is paramount. Testing your home for airborne pollutants like asbestos and radon can prevent serious health issues down the road.

Asbestos was commonly used in building materials through the 1970s and can still be found in some wallpaper, ceiling/floor tiles and insulation. When the toxin is inhaled, the particles embed in the lining of the organs, where mesothelioma cancer may develop. The rare but aggressive cancer can develop in the lining of the lungs, heart, abdominal cavity and testicles. Hiring an asbestos professional to inspect your home for the toxin can be lifesaving, as asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma.

Radon is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is emitted through the ground. Radon is always present in low levels — the issue begins when those levels rise. Exposure to high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. According to the National Cancer Institute it is estimated that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon.

Testing your home with a radon gas test kit is the only way to know if your home’s radon levels are below what the Environmental Protection Agency recommends. About one in 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have radon levels at or above the EPA’s recommended level.

2. Take chipping paint seriously

Chipping paint may seem like a small annoyance but even the smallest paint chips could be hazardous if they contain lead.

Homes built before 1978 could contain lead based paints. Knowing if your home contains lead based paint is imperative, as lead exposure can affect almost every organ and system in the body. Children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure and even low levels can result in behavioral and learning problems, lower IQ, hearing problems and slowed growth.

If your home was built before 1978, it is in your best interest to regularly check for chipping, peeling or deteriorating paint. A paint inspection can tell you the lead content of all the painted surfaces in your home but fails to inform homeowners if the paint is hazardous. A risk assessment is the best way for you to find out if there are any sources of serious lead exposure in your home.

3. Kick the plastic habit

The chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), is used to make shatterproof plastics. The chemical has only been used in consumer products for the past 40 years, so the effects of BPA on the human body are not yet fully understood.

Studies have shown a correlation between high levels of BPA and asthma, breast and prostate cancer, and cardiovascular problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of people tested. Reduce your exposure to BPA by limiting the consumption of food that is canned, opting for alternatives to plastic water bottles and never microwaving polycarbonate plastic food containers.

4. Vacuum with a HEPA filter

Vacuuming is an easy and effective way to reduce dust which can trigger allergies and asthma. A vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter removes 99.7 percent of small particles from the air. When vacuuming, start from the highest levels and work down to pick up any airborne particles that may fall from higher spaces in your home. Use of the vacuum attachments can help to ensure that even the smallest crevices are free from harmful pollutants.

Taking simple steps to reduce exposure to everyday toxins can promote a happy and healthy life, and reduce your risk of developing cancer and other health conditions.

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4 simple ways to reduce your exposure to common household toxins