- Plastics - water bottles, vinyl pillow cases and shower curtains, vinyl flooring, disposable microwave storage containers
Plasticizers can be released from vinyl shower curtains and flooring leading to accumulation in house dust and indoor air. They can be leached from food packaging or plastic cookware and become part of the food you eat. The plasticizers include phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), chemicals which are classified as endocrine disruptors by US EPA.
Chemical(s) of Concern: polyvinyl chloride (PVC); phthalates; bisphenol - A (BPA)
Alternatives: Use natural (cotton) or nylon shower curtains; avoid microwaving in plastic containers, store food in glass, stainless steel or ceramics
Link: Plastics PrimerReferences:
Phthalates, TEACH Chemical Summary, U.S. EPA, Toxicity and Exposure Assessment for Children’s Health
Food packaging and bisphenol A and bis(2-ethyhexyl) phthalate exposure: findings from a dietary intervention, Rudel et al. 2011:
- Cookware – Non-stick pans
Teflon coating on non-stick pans has been found to have some ingredients of concern. Overheating the pans can release a toxic fume. The chemicals from the pan can get into the food, indoor air and house dust.
Chemical(s) of Concern: perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)
Alternatives: replace with cast iron, stainless steel, glass or silicon-based pans; if use, do not overheat, do not use if scratched
- Upholstered furniture, Carpets, Draperies, Fabric Care - stain resistant fabrics; foam products (stuffed furniture); spray on fabric “stain protectors”.
Home furnishings are often treated with flame retardants and stain resistant coatings. These chemical treatments can flake and vaporize as the product ages and enter indoor air and house dust. Because of this exposure potential and their toxic properties (cancer, endocrine disruption), PBDE and Tris flame retardants have been banned in some states. Some of the replacement flame retardants are based upon similar brominated retardant chemistry and so may also be of concern.
There is an increasing array of Brominated Flame Retardant (BFR)-free furniture, textiles and electronics becoming available. Ask at the store whether a particular product has BFRs and if they offer any alternatives.
Chemical(s) of Concern: formaldehyde, Tris flame retardants, PFCs (perfluorinated compounds), PBDEs
Alternatives: Keep upholstery in good condition free from rips and tears; choose naturally fire resistant fabrics such as wool or synthetic blends when buying new furniture; avoid stain-resistant, non-flammable, wrinkle resistant, waterproof products; clean floors frequently.
Furniture Without Flame Retardants (Green Science Policy Institute)