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10 Dangerous Household Products You Should Never Use Again

Air fresheners, disinfectants, and cleaners found under your sink are more dangerous than you think.
 
 
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You would never cross the street without looking both ways, walk alone down a dark alley alone at three a.m., or tell your child to accept rides from strangers. So why let hazardous, toxic, and even carcinogenic chemicals into your home everyday?

The message driven home for millions of Americans each day via TV and internet commercials is this: No need to scrub or scour. With just one squeeze of the spray bottle, you can wipe away dirt, grime, and bacteria.

Alas, there’s that dark alley again. Air fresheners, disinfectants, and cleaners found under your sink are more dangerous than you think. Mix bleach with ammonia, for example, and you’ve got a toxic fume cloud used by the military in WWI. And they weren’t cleaning kitchens.

Here is a list of the ten products you should ban from your home -- forever -- along with suggested alternatives.

1. Non-Stick Cookware

When non-stick pans were first introduced into American households in the 1960s, they were thought to be a godsend. Gone were the days of soaking pans for hours and scouring pots with steel wool. In the forty years since then, however, we’ve learned that the ease of cleaning comes at a steep price: the coating that makes Teflon pans non-stick is polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE for short. When PTFE heats up, it releases toxic gasses that have been linked to cancer, organ failure, reproductive damage, and other harmful health effects.

The problems with PTFE-coated pans seem to occur at high temperatures, so if you must use Teflon, cook foods on medium heat or less. Avoiding non-stick pans altogether is the safest option. If you’re able to do so, try anodized aluminum, stainless steel, or cast iron pans with a little cooking oil. SustainLane reviewers like LeCreuset cast iron pans and more cost-effective ones like Lodge Logic. Using a lower setting on the stove will reduce the chances that your food will burn, which is how it usually gets stuck to pans the first place. If you’re worried about the extra calories cooking oil adds, try baking or steaming your food.

2. Plastic Bottles

By now you’ve heard of dangers of BPA in those ubiquitous neon water bottles. BPA mimics the effects of hormones that harm your endocrine system. While the company at the heart of the controversy has switched to BPA-free plastic, those aren’t the only toxic bottles. Single-use plastic bottles are even worse for leaching chemicals, especially when you add the heat of the sun (think about bottles left in your trunk) or the microwave. Aside from the fact that bottled water sold across state lines is not as regulated as tap water, the bottles themselves are spawning grounds for bacteria and are a source of needless waste. Each year, more than one million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the more than 25 billion single-use plastic water bottles sold in the U.S. Choose a reusable, stainless steel or glass bottle instead. SustainLane users have reviewed several water bottle alternatives.

3. Conventional Cleaning Supplies

These routinely make the top ten lists of worst household offenders. They contain toxic chemicals that negatively affect every system in your body. All purpose cleaners often contain ammonia, a strong irritant that has been linked to liver and kidney damage. Bleach is a powerful oxidizer, which can burn the skin and eyes. Another danger lies in oven cleaners, which can cause chemical burns and emit toxic fumes that harm the respiratory system. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that more than 120,000 children under the age of five were involved in incidents involving household cleaners in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available.

 
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