That plastic shower curtain might be great for keeping your floor dry, but it may also contain large quantities of phthalates, a compound found in some plastics that has been shown to disrupt the normal functioning of human hormones, leading to problems with reproductive and neurological functioning. Phthalates are found in many vinyl products, so it’s also worth checking out exactly what’s in your flooring, siding and even personal beauty products.
We all know that humidifiers can help protect against dry skin and offer relief from winter colds. But if not maintained properly, they can also transform into factories for breeding mold and bacteria. Make sure to clean out your humidifiers frequently, including the filters, using a mild disinfectant. Similar hazards can lurk in carpets, which stockpile mold, dust, pollen and other allergens. Keep a firm vacuuming schedule and make sure to deep-clean them yearly.
It’s silent, scentless and deadly: We’re talking about radon, the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers here in the U.S. Radon can leak into homes through cracks in the foundation, becoming trapped inside and rising to risky concentrations. In fact, new leaks can form even under established homes. Radon testing kits can be purchased relatively cheaply online, so test the lower floors of your home every few years or so to make sure you’re as safe as possible.
While lead piping has been banned for decades, and is unlikely to turn up in recently built homes, traces of lead can come from sediment in hot water heaters. If you use hot water for making tea or boiling food, know that hot water can also save you from another piped-in threat: Legionnaire’s. The bacteria that causes it thrives in water pipes. Turning your heater above 140°F and running hot faucets for 10 minutes will help kill the bacteria if it is present in your home.