How to ease the chemical pressure in your home

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There is a great deal we do not know about the potential effects of chemicals, but if you want to be on the safe side, you can try to cut down on the amounts you have in your home. We have put together some practical advice based on the knowledge available today.

  • Let newly redecorated rooms air for a few weeks before a child sleeps there.
  • Choose eco-labelled paint or wallpaper without a plastic coating.
  • Use glass and china in the microwave or heat food in a saucepan. Endocrine disruptors like bisphenol A can leach out when plastic is heated in a microwave.
  • Use a cast-iron pan. The teflon in modern frying pans can leach perfluorooctanoic acid, PFOA, into food.
  • Glass containers and Tetra Pak cartons are better than food tins and beverage cans, whose inner coating leaches bisphenol A.
  • Many chemicals cling to dust. Areas where children spend time should be kept clean. Swab regularly.
  • Soft soap is a good alternative to more chemical-based floor cleaning products.
  • New textiles can contain many different chemicals. Wash new textiles or buy them second-hand.
  • Avoid PVC flooring, which can give off harmful plasticisers.
  • Place televisions and computers in a well-ventilated room for a week after purchase. Flame retardant seeps out when they get hot and mostly when they are new.
  • Make sure all plastic toys have been manufactured in the EU after 2007. Newer plastic toys have a lower content of some endocrine disruptors.

The EU maintains a list of chemicals that are suspected of being dangerous. You are entitled to know if a product contains any of these substances under the EU's REACH legislation. If you ask the shop, you should get a reply within 45 days. You can see the list for yourself at the European Chemicals Agency, ECHA.