You buy only organic produce, take vitamin supplements, and do yoga daily. You're on the path to lasting health, right? Not necessarily. Experts say if you don't scrutinize your home the way you do the rest of your life, you undermine all the good work of a healthy lifestyle—and then some.
"People have a lot of awareness about food additives and pesticide residue, so they eat organic, but they don't realize that the cleaning products they use are far more dangerous than any additives in their food," says environmental consultant Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home (Tarcher/Penguin, 2004).
Almost all household products—carpeting, furniture, cleaning products, and electronics—emit toxins. "Everyone needs to realize that toxic exposure is happening whether or not you feel it today," Dadd says. "It's affecting your health, and you will feel it someday."
She advises taking three steps that will have an immediate impact on your home.
AVOID AMMONIA Replace ammonia-based window cleaners with a solution of half vinegar and half water.
USE A FAN Turn on the stove hood fan to blow away combustion by-products (such as carbon monoxide) from your gas stove.
CHANGE THE SHEETS Replace your polyester sheets, which can emit formaldehyde, with untreated cotton or flannel sheets.
Dadd next recommends tackling categories of toxins, starting with the most dangerous: cleaning products. Replace commercial, chemical brands with ones sold in health food stores, or learn about making your own natural solutions. (For inspiration, visit www.dld123.com for Dadd's directory of links to nontoxic environmental products.)
Detoxifying your home "is preventive," she says. "Like taking vitamins, exercising, and getting enough sleep, it's one of the pillars of health."