The dangers of the great outdoors are one thing. But what about the risks posed by items you probably use indoors every day? In your home, there are hidden pathogens. In your store-bought products, there could be hidden chemicals. Read on to discover some of the dangers lurking in your everyday objects, and what you can do to stay safe.
Some air fresheners - and even some candles - can release toxins into the air. According to a study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, scented products sometimes release chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. If you use these items every now and then, you probably won't experience any harm. But if you spray your home with air fresheners every day, you could be at risk for respiratory distress.
Hand washing is one of the best things you can do to prevent yourself from getting sick, whether from a cold, the flu or food poisoning. But according to the Food and Drug Administration, antibacterial soaps are not only no more potent than regular soap and water, but actually can have dangerous implications for public health. Regular soap and water work just as well to keep you clean and prevent sickness. But antibacterial soap is almost certainly contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which reduces doctors' ability to effectively treat serious illnesses and infections.
Many people don't clean their bath mats often enough. The damp cloth provides a prime breeding ground for mold and bacteria. These organisms can cause allergies and lead to other health problems including colds and infections.
Seriously, stop using cotton swabs to clean your ears. You don't need to - and doing so could actually be dangerous. According to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, there are large numbers of injuries from cotton swabs and not a lot of public awareness of the danger. Using cotton swabs improperly could result in serious ear injuries.
Most people don't clean their cutting boards properly, and the result could make someone seriously sick. When cutting raw meat, you may be transferring foodborne bacteria such as salmonella onto the cutting board. And some methods of washing - such as, say, by hand with a sponge - aren't thorough enough to clean out all the tiny grooves in the surface. Instead, use this foolproof method to ensure your cutting board is clean before repeated use.
You always want to make sure you clean out the lint from your drier and throw it away between each use. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 2,900 fires are reported each year caused by clothing driers. The leading cause of these fires is a failure to clean them out between uses.
Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because it has no taste, sight or smell. However, it could still be deadly. Fireplaces put people at risk for exposure to this dangerous gas. To prevent exposure, make sure your chimney isn't blocked and don't leave the fireplace lit while you are not home or asleep. Additionally, look out for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning so you can evacuate if necessary. Some earlier signs include confusion, memory problems, dizziness and vision disturbances.
Nail polish remover
The FDA does regulate nail care products to ensure they're safe to use. But it's important to read the label and use them correctly. Some nail care products, such as nail polish removers, need to be used in a well ventilated area. The fumes from these products can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and, if used repeatedly, worsened asthma or difficulty breathing.
Some popular oven cleaners could be toxic. Certain ingredients used in these chemical cleaners could be corrosive and cause damage to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Instead, try an all-natural cleaning solution that works just as well (and takes a few bucks off your grocery bill, too).
When you buy plastic containers to store your food, check the label. If it says the product is BPA-free, you're in the clear. But some plastic containers could leak bisphenol A (BPA) into the food stored inside. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor, which could mess with hormonal balance and cause adverse health effects.
Pressed wood furniture
Though pressed wood isn't as widely used today, many piece of furniture are constructed with it. Pressed wood can contain formaldehyde, a chemical used as an industrial disinfectant. According to the American Cancer Society, formaldehyde has been linked to cancer in some studies. The substance may also cause irritation to the skin, as well.
You may want to opt for an email receipt if you can - the paper receipts printed at most stores are hiding dangerous chemicals. According to a 2018 report by the Michigan-based nonprofit the Ecology Center, as many as eight out of every nine receipts contain bisphenol A (BPA) or bisphenol S (BPS). Both chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, meaning that they disrupt the hormone systems in your body. Scientists have found that these chemicals are linked to impaired fetal development, reproductive impairment, ADHD, autism and other health issues. The chemicals can transfer from the thermal paper to your hands, where they can absorb through the skin and into the body.
If you don't clean your sponge correctly, it could spread germs. Those germs could give you food poisoning or else make you really sick. According to some investigations, sponges are actually the dirtiest items in your whole house.
Don't get this wrong. You definitely need to be applying sunscreen every day - even when it's not sunny. But you may also want to ensure that you're not using a sunscreen that contains harmful ingredients. Luckily, the FDA regulates sunscreen and has banned a number of chemicals that could pose a threat to human health. However, one that is still permitted could have some adverse effects. The chemical ingredient oxybenzone was added to nearly 65 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens analyzed by the Environmental Working Group in 2018. This chemical could cause allergic skin reactions in some individuals and has shown in some studies to have negative health and environmental effects.
You want your vacuum to help make your home cleaner, not more infested. But if you don't often clean out your vacuum filter, you could be releasing dangerous particles into the air in your home. Studies show that vacuum cleaners tend to let loose dust microbes that contain bacteria and mold. When you breathe in these particles, you may experience some respiratory distress and trigger allergies. After you clean your vacuum filter, make sure you go through these steps to keep pests out of your home, too.
More from The Active Times:
Is It a Cold or the Flu? How to Tell the Difference
Hidden Sources of Bacteria in Your Home
How the Environment Impacts Your Health
Cancer-Causing Habits You Need to Stop Immediately