02 July 2012

Cancer Causers at Home You Should Get Rid of

We have grown to believe that our home is our castle. But things have changed long ago and nowadays our homes might be hiding more danger than safety.  Indeed quite a lot information has been shared about the infamous formaldehyde, nitrobenzene and methylene chloride - all carcinogens that can be found in everyday items such as rubber, plastic, dyes, perfumes, shampoos.

art supplies can have cancer causing ingredients
Photo: Ujwala Prabhu
Take a look at a few of the items you thought harmless and see the health problems they can provoke. Then make sure you take the right decision and rid your home of many cancer-causers and ensure a healthy environment for you and your family.

According to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 40 percent of candles on the market contain lead wires inside their wicks. Scented candles most commonly contain lead wicks. Fragrance oils soften the wax, so the manufacturers use lead to make the wicks firmer.

A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pollution standards for outdoor air, says the CPSC. Exposure to high amounts of lead may contribute to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and many other health problems.

If you want to keep your home softly lit and cozy without risking your health go for beeswax candles with cotton wicks. For more information on how to make your own beeswax candles read How to Make Beeswax Candles.

Art supplies
Certain art supplies like Epoxy and rubber cement glues, acrylic paints and solvents, and permanent markers contain chemicals linked to allergies, organ damage, and cancer.

Children are particularly vulnerable to toxins because of their higher metabolisms, and immature immune systems, so it pays to exercise extra care with the products they use. To find nontoxic and green alternatives to common art supplies, or recipes for making your own, read Are Art Supplies Toxic?

Air fresheners
Many air fresheners have carcinogens, volatile organic compounds and toxins such as phthalate esters in their formulas. A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study of 13 common household air fresheners found that most of the surveyed products contain chemicals that can aggravate asthma and affect reproductive development.

According to a 2008 study by Anne Steinemann of the University of Washington, all air-fresheners tested gave off chemicals regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, including carcinogens with no safe exposure level. None of these chemicals, however, were listed on  the product labels or Material Safety Data Sheets. As a replacement, try natural fragrances from essential oils.

Unlikely as it may sound, conventional shampoos have too many toxic ingredients. Funny as it may sound,  their effects are still being researched, and there is no scientific consensus  whether they cause cancer. But if you want to be on the safe side, you can use any of the myriad of handmade shampoo bars, offered on etsy, or you can start washing your hair with baking soda, just like I do.

Most conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain several ingredients linked to virulent cancers. Since deodorants and antiperspirants are designed to stay on our bodies for hours, this allows the potential absorption of harmful chemicals through the skin. After I read this article on Green Living Ideas I completely stopped using antiperspirants but am yet to write an extensive post about that.

Shower curtains
Plastic shower curtains leach toxic chemicals not only into your shower or bath, but also into the environment, emitting harmful chemicals called volatile organic chemicals or VOCs.

Reducing your contact with any of these products, in addition to conventional cleaners, will surely make your home your castle.

Did I miss anything? Share your opinion in the comments!

Republished from Green Living Ideas with some edits.


  1. Ahhh yes. Everything it seems, is bad for you. This is a very well written post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jess, not everything! There are way too many products that are, though!

  2. Great post, but I have also found that research causes cancer as well. It seems once something is deemed good for you, everyone rushes out to buy it, only to discover a week later that it might be bad for you. Eggs have this history - eggs are bad, they raise cholesterol. Eggs are good - they are a good, filling protein, especially for breakfast.

    My son always uses non-toxic art supplies at home, but how do I know the art supplies he uses at school are non-toxic? Next thing, someone is going to tell me I shouldn't crochet with Eyelash yarn, because it can detach from the strand and I can breathe it in and it will get stuck in my lungs and cause cancer.

    I take these researches with a grain of salt.

    1. You are spot on, researches should be taken with a grain of salt. I have noticed that depending on the sponsor, the results tend to turn out pretty different.

      But of course, there is the level of common sense that can help us differentiate.

  3. Oh yeah, art supplies! I never let my little nieces and nephews near my studio cuz it's so toxic.

    My old illustration teacher had a friend in her art college that used a lot of pastels and spray-fixadent--she died when she was in her 30's from lung cancer. So especially with oil pastels, it's not on the box, but ppl should use a face mask cuz once it's in your lungs it's not ever leaving you.

    I also have heard of a lot of oil painters (a LOT) who get asthma just from their turpentine. So switching to Oderless Mineral Spirits is a real life saver and it's really just as efficient and less smelly than turp, too. (still not the best for you, but soo much better.) And for cleaning brushes I always spend the extra money for the non-toxic brush cleaning solution just for oil paints--it's so much better for your brushes and your hands.

    Cuz you don't have to give up the medium that you love--but taking a little extra time to put on some gloves or go outside to spray-fix or use a natural replacement can save years.

  4. Very intersting. So many things you don't know are bad for you.

  5. Thanks so much for this article. I wonder if it's the answer to curing my Mum in law's asthma! She uses scented candles EVERY DAY like they're going out of fashion. I'll tell her about your article here.

    1. This might very well be the reason! Make sure you let your mother in law know!

  6. I should probably phase out my rubber cement —as trusty as it is harmful, unfortunately. I wonder if it's harmful only when volatile, or also after it has dried...?

  7. I've heard the lining of tin cans is bad for you - as are the plastic containers that you get take-out in. Basically any food containers not made of glass can leak chemicals into your food… from what I've heard.

    My theory is that our entire generation is going to die of cancer. We've just got so much synthetic crap that we live around and totally take for granted. Our bodies can't take it all!

    1. I hate to admit it, but I think you are right, Jennifer. I simply hope that more people can raise awareness and hopefully change people's minds!

  8. Who would've guessed that most candles have lead wicks? YIKES!

  9. Most people always talk about oil paints being bad for you, but I didn't know acrylic can be bad too. :(

    I did know about candles though, and always try to buy lead-free.