Coal Tar Driveway Sealant
If you plan to seal your blacktop driveway, avoid coal tar–based sealants. They contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, toxic compounds shown to cause cancer or other genetic mutations. When rainwater and other precipitation hit your driveway, the toxic chemicals run off into your yard and into your local drinking water supply.
Better Alternative: Gravel and other porous materialsare best for driveways because they allow rainwater to sink into the ground, where it gets filtered and doesn’t inundate water treatment plants.
The Dirt: Chemical weed, fungus, and bug killers all fit under this category and should be avoided both inside and outside of your house. Researchers have linked these pesticides to various forms of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; insecticides have been connected to brain damage in kids.
Better Alternative: Combating an indoor bug problem is as simple as cleaning up crumbs, sealing food in containers, and using wood shims and a caulking gun to fill pest entry points.
The Dirt: The antimicrobial chemical triclosan, used in some toothpastes and antibacterial soaps, is believed to disrupt thyroid function and hormone levels in people; when it mixes into wastewater, it can cause sex changes in aquatic life.
Better Alternative: Good old-fashioned soap and warm water will kill just as many germs
The Dirt: Fragrance may be the most common type of chemical in your house. Used in laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, air fresheners, deodorizers, shampoos, hair sprays, gels, lotions, sunscreens, soaps, perfumes, powders, and scented candles—and dozens of other products you may not know about—fragrances are a class of chemicals that are well worth the time and effort to avoid. The term "fragrance" or "parfum" on personal-care-product labels can be a cover for hundreds of harmful chemicals known to be carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and reproductive toxicants, even at low levels.
Better Alternative: Go the unscented route whenever possible, especially with soaps and detergents.
Harsh Cleaning Products
Ammonia can trigger asthma attacks, and harsh oven cleaners and drain openers can cause respiratory damage or burn the skin of children who come into contact with them.
Better Alternative: Save tons of money by turning to Grandma’s homemade cleaning concoctions, including a general cleaning solution of one part white vinegar and nine parts water. This will kill up to 90 percent of bacteria and many spores.
Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware
synthetic material known as perfluoroalkyl acid, a class of chemicals that have been linked to ADHD, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. They’re also potentsperm killers and are suspected of contributing to female infertility.
Better Alternative: Opt for safer cookware like made-in-America cast iron, glass or stainless steel
The Dirt:Some environmental health groups have dubbed vinyl the "poison plastic," due to its harmful production process and its effects on humans. Vinyl is laced with phthalates, chemical plastic softeners linked to hormone disruption, stunted growth, obesity, and other health problems, as well as low IQs.
Better Alternative: When it’s time to replace flooring in your home, opt for wood, bamboo, or cork that’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or for real linoleum, instead of vinyl. Avoid plastic shower-curtain liners, as well as fake leather furniture, clothing, and accessories, to cut down on phthalate exposure. (Try hemp or organic cotton shower curtains.)
Flame-retardant chemicals can be found in electronics, carpets, carpet padding, and furniture foam. They’ve been associated with a wide range of health problems, including infertility, thyroid problems, learning disabilities, and hormone disruption.
Better Alternative: When shopping for new furniture, call the manufacturer and ask if it contains flame retardants. If you see a tag that says "complies with California Technical Bulletin 117," avoid bringing home that piece of furniture
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to male infertility, diabetes, heart disease, aggressive behavior in children, and other ills. The chemical is used in some No. 7 plastic bottles and most canned-food containers Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, and bypass cans as often as possible. Don’t store or microwave food or beverages in plastic containers.
Nasty indoor air-polluting culprits, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, could be trashing your indoor air, especially in the kitchen, the basement, or even the laundry room. (Scented, petroleum-based laundry detergents contain high levels of VOCs.) These hazardous chemicals are linked to asthma and, in some instances, even cancer, and they add to indoor air pollution. Pressed wood and particleboard cabinets and other furniture are big emitters of the VOC (and carcinogen) formaldehyde in the home, too.
Choose unscented, plant-based detergents, or go old-school and use castile soap or washing soda and borax to clean your clothing. For new paint projects, choose readily available no-VOC paint
cleaning chemical of choice in this country remains perchloroethylene, also known as PCE, or perc. This chemical is classified a probable carcinogen and is linked to kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage. It’s not something you want to wear or have holed up in your home closet.
You can work around "Dry Clean Only" instructions on clothing tags.
Source: Rodale news and Jessica Alba’s fact-filled book, The Honest Life, for easy ways to detox your cleaning, shopping, and cosmetics routines, too