Are You Harboring These Dangerous Products?

In cartoons, poisons are always easy to spot. If it’s been a while since you watched Looney Toons, I’ll help you out: they’re in the dark bottles with skull-and-crossbones labels. Often, they create a little green cloud when poured. There is no confusion with an image like that.

Unfortunately, the toxins in our own home are not so easy to spot. From the kitchen to the garden, bedroom to the bathroom, there are potentially dangerous items lurking. The only way to protect yourself is to know where these chemicals like to hide. Look out for these 10 potentially dangerous households products.

1. Non-stick cookware: Teflon pans are easy to clean but the polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, can release gasses when heated that have been linked to cancer, organ failure, and reproductive damage.

2. Plastic Bottles: Innocent looking plastic bottles may contain BPA, a chemical that we now know is damaging to the endocrine system. Plastic bottles that have been heated release even more chemicals, so keep them out of the sun and microwave.

3. Cleaning Supplies: Conventional cleaning supplies are loaded with a huge range of toxins and dangerous chemicals. The best way to avoid these nasties is to choose green cleaning supplies.

4. Chemical Insecticides and Herbicides: Insecticides and herbicides are designed to kill things and the chemicals that make them effective pose a threat to humans as well.

5. Antibacterial Products: Hold on, aren’t antibacterial products intended to keep us healthier? They are indeed, but the widespread use of antibacterial products is spawning new strains of super-bugs that are resistant to standard treatment.

6. Chemical Fertilizers: Fertilizers help keep your lawn thick and green, but when it rains, these chemicals rush into the water supply causing agal blooms and other problems.

7. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: CFL bulbs are excellent energy savers but they harbor a dangerous secret: mercury. Take caution when handling these bulbs, especially if they break.

8. Air Fresheners: Even if they are labeled “pure” or “natural,” air fresheners can emit toxins that have been linked to ailments such as asthma.

9. Flame Retardants: Commonly found in mattresses, flame retardants have been linked to liver, thyroid, and neuro-developmental toxicity.

10. Plastic Shopping Bags: Everyone has a drawer or cupboard filled with plastic grocery bags, but what happens when these seemingly disposable items get thrown away? It turns out nothing happens to them. Plastic shopping bags will last nearly forever and are a huge contributor to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

This long list is frightening to scroll through and raises a single question: How do we keep these toxins out of our homes? For the answer, check out Sustain Lane’s excellent article “10 Dangerous Household Products You Should Never Use Again” at AlterNet.

Original article posted on Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

By David DeFranza, Planet Green


Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Stop poisoning ourselves

Jess No Fwd Plz K.
Jessica K4 years ago

Although it seems everything has some kind of contaminant, it's good to know the risks to more safely use or avoid certain products. Thanks.

Melinda K.
Past Member 4 years ago

Great article and very helpful comments, thanks Care2ers!

Kelly Rogers5 years ago

If you or friends have birds make sure they are away from the kitchen. The non-stick emits a deadly toxin to them,i t is also in air fresheners. They have extremely delicate lungs. If you suspect your bird has been poisoned or have questions contact The charge $35.00 and that includes a follow-up. The vets on the line have many different licenses for different things. I forget exactly what I think I remember they know about holistic stuff. They can answer ANY question you have. They are wonderful and I highly recommend them.

Linda Testerman
Linda Testerman8 years ago

Caroline, Thanks for your suggestion. When I move, I am going to get new pots and pans.

Caroline Young
Caroline Young8 years ago

hint for using stainless steel cookware, before you add any oil have the pan hot and the oil at room temp add right before cooking, nothing will stick

Jenna R.
Past Member 8 years ago


I use Stainless Steel cookware. It sticks a little, but I'm not cooking for the President, so I don't mind :)

megan m.
megan m8 years ago

CFLs and mercury blah blah blah. Way to go Care2, confuse the heck outta your readers by first advocating for them and then telling people they are dangerous.

The mercury content in CFLs is so small as to hardly be cause for concern. They save an immense amount of electricity, by the way, which actually helps REDUSE the amount of mercury that gets spewed into the environment by coal burning power plants.
I've broken a CFL bulb before (two at once actually). You don't need to call in the Hazmat cavalry. Open the windows and leave the house for about 10-15 minutes. When you come back in, dampen a cloth or paper towel (anything you can stand to throw away) put on a pair of gloves and scoop it all up gently into a ziploc baggie (towel and gloves included). Then take the bag to your local household hazardous waste center, or look up earth911. Make it a worthwhile trip and take all your single-use dead batteries with you, too... or have you been throwing those away? naughty.

Linda Testerman
Linda Testerman8 years ago

I have found a site on the web that sells LED's. They are a bit more expensive, but with danger of mercury and Migraines,they will be well worth it.
I have gone to cleaning with baking soda or other "green" cleaners.
We use no fertilizers on our yard- weeds grow along with our grass- it's God's yard
The plastic bags- well- I am working on them- since we have to walk the dogs - we use them to pick up after them- I do use the other type of bags for shopping when I can.
I can no longer lift cast iron, if I can't use teflon, what is my option?

Sandy H.
Sandy H8 years ago

Although the manufacturers of non-stick cookware claim their products do not emit fumes unless heated to something like 500 degrees, Bird Talk magazine continually advises caution if you own ANY species of bird. I have a cockatoo and finches, and I couldn't find a broiler-oven that didn't have a non-stick interior, so I always open a window and turn on a fan when using it. I keep my birds out of the kitchen when cooking, period. I don't own non-stick pots and pans at all. They don't just become ill if there's a problem - they die very quickly. Birds can also be harmed by many aerosol sprays and fumes from cleaning solutions, air fresheners, etc. I was familiar with most of the items in this post, but I did get some more useful info from it. Thanks!