Moments after my first attempt to get pregnant, I totally freaked out. I wasn’t nervous about the idea of being knocked up (whee!). Instead, I was worried because my home suddenly seemed overwhelmingly toxic, filled with chemicals that might harm my growing baby, her father, and me. Peeling paint above us. Bleach-scrub residue on our counters, sink, and tub. The plastic in my water bottle. The water in my water bottle. Roach bait. I spun around and around. How had I not noticed this before?
Google didn’t ease my anxiety—there I learned that less than 5 percent of the more than 80,000 chemicals introduced in the United States since World War II have been tested for their effects on human health and development—but a close friend did. She suggested that I take baby steps to make what’s inside my home as pure as the organic apples and pears in my fruit bowl. My anxiety ebbed as I swapped my most toxic home products for more natural versions. Pretty soon I’d replaced everything from my vinyl shower curtain to my bedding, and I’d written a book—The Complete Organic Pregnancy—with that friend, Deirdre Dolan. Since then, I’ve been guiding families (including my own, which now includes an organic 2-year-old), friends, and total strangers through similar transformations.
To give you the same advantage, here’s a cheat sheet to the most toxic zones around your home and how to detox them. If you feel overwhelmed, start small, says David O. Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, State University of New York:
“It’s only reasonable to do what you can to reduce exposure without compromising your whole standard of life.”
Here are some of the most toxic areas in your home:
- Your Lush Lawn
- Under the Kitchen Sink
- Your Child’s Toy Box
- Your Closet
- That Half-renovated Rec Room
- Your Bed
- Your Cat’s Litter Box
- Your Home Office