How To: Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Your House


In the final article in the Globe and Mail's series on toxins in our midst, Martin Mittelstaedt looks at how we can live with less toxins in our homes. Barbara Harris tries to; she is part of a grass-roots effort to minimize exposure to chemicals and runs a website about it at This site is an extraordinary compilation of alternative products, with a home-made alternative in almost every category.

her main suggestions in the Globe article:

-get a PBDE free mattress- Barbara's is an expensive organic cotton model.
-use mild soaps, baking soda and vinegar.
-never microwave your food in a plastic container, always glass or porcelain.
-lose the teflon pans. (sorry John) and use cast iron or stainless steel.
-never buy stain resistant clothing. "Stains above Brains" says Barbara.


Another good resource is Clean Production Action, (covered in Treehugger before) a Montreal based orgaization that runs , a site that lists furniture companies, cosmetic makers and retailers. Some of its suggestions for the Globe article:

-get your mattress at IKEA or wherever they have a PBDE-free policy.
-H&M; does not allow solvents or other hazardous chemicals in the manufacture of its clothing.
-Dell computers has eliminated PDBE's from its products.
-Volvo has eliminated PDBE's and Phthalates from its cars.

While nobody can get totally chemical free- "Dr. Ana Soto, a breast-cancer researcher at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston who is one of the world's leading authorities on bisphenol A, says many chemicals are almost impossible to avoid.The only way to be sure of eliminating exposures is "don't eat, don't drink and don't breathe, and you cannot do that," she says."- But we can at least try to reduce our exposure.

::Globe and Mail: Want a full-time job? Live chemical-free