Top Hidden Health Hazards in Your Home

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Many of the products we keep in our homes - from cooking tools to furniture - could contain elements that might be hazardous to our health. Learn what you can do to protect you and your family.

Your child's pacifier

New research suggests that your child's binky is worse off than a petri dish. Researchers found that pacifiers are breeding grounds for at least 40 different types of bacteria, yeast and mold that could potentially increase the likelihood of colic or ear infections, as well as increase the risk of allergies and asthma.

The sofa

Researchers tested cushions from sofas from across the U.S. and found that there were harmful flame-retardant chemicals in 85 percent of them. The chemicals detected may cause liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity. What can you do? Replace older couches with newer ones, vacuum with a HEPA filter and wet-mop the floors.

Household plastics

Items like baby bottles, food containers, and water bottles might contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which can have brain and behavioral effects on fetuses and young children at current exposure levels. To protect yourself and your family, try to use glass when you can, or plastics that are BPA-free.

Drywall, insulation, artificial fireplace logs, toys

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Although many building manufacturers have stopped using it due to its hazardous health risks, it has not been banned by the U.S. government for many other usesThree of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure include lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. 

Tap water

According to new research published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used to chlorinate water and also present in pesticides used on food products, could be linked to food allergies.

Teflon pots and pans

Teflon itself is not suspected to cause cancer, but a component of Teflon nonstick coatings, called Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies in lab rodents have found that exposure to PFOA increases the risk of certain tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands, and pancreas, but there's little data on humans.