How hazardous are these household items really?

Non-stick cookware, plastic containers and nail polish may all be harmful to your health

How Hazardous Are These Household Items?

You use them every day, but just how safe are things like plastic food containers and non-stick pans? From air-fresheners to nail polish, discover the potentially hazardous items you might want to avoid.

Plastic containers
Who doesn't have a kitchen cupboard full of plastic containers – and a dozen lids that never fit? While they're convenient for storing food, plastic tubs contain Bisphenol-A or 'BPA' (a chemical used to harden plastics), which has been linked to cancer and heart problems in tests on animals. It's also been shown (in animal studies) to have an effect on the brain and behaviour of infants.

It's estimated that more than 90% of us have BPA in our bodies right now, thanks to eating food that has been stored in a container made with the chemical.

So should you throw out the tupperwear? While the Food Standards Agency says the minute amounts we consume are safe, Dr. David Samadi, an analyst for Fox News, believes it's wise to take precautions. "It may be okay to carry food in every once in a while, but don't ever put it in microwave. When you heat it up that's when the toxin can get into your food," he warns.

Non-stick pans
Non-stick pans are another convenient invention of the modern world but they have been a cause for concern. At the start of 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued stricter limitations on the use of long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), traditionally used in the manufacture of non-stick pans.

Studies on laboratory animals have shown that perfluorooctanoic acid increases the risk of tumours of the liver, pancreas and testicles and reduces fertility. While there is less clear evidence of harm to humans, the EPA doesn't want to take the risk, and has informed companies that they must phase out these chemicals by the end of this year.

While Teflon is still considered safe, the lining of the pans can chip off into your food (unpleasant but not a problem medically), so you might want to consider using a cast-iron skillet and a natural, non-stick spray instead.

Air fresheners
Air fresheners are potentially dangerous as they may contain phthalates, a chemical that can cause problems with the reproductive system. As phthalates also show up in a lot of cleaning products, Dr. David Samadi recommends checking labels and using something like baking soda instead.

Nail varnish
You've raided your kitchen cupboards – now it's time to turn your attention to the bathroom cabinet. Some brands of nail polish can contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and toluene, which can affect the central nervous and reproductive systems. There are plenty of nail varnish brands that don't contain potentially dangerous chemicals – so check the labels before you buy.

Three BPA-free products to try:

Sainsbury's Cook's Collection Cast Iron Orange Frying Pan, £20

BPA Free Water Bottle, £9.99, Tesco

Sainsbury's Foil Containers & Lids x10, £1.55

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