10 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Safer and Healthier
5. Be careful with plastic bottles and canned foods.
The safety of bisphenol A, a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics, is
still being debated. These plastics are used in some water bottles and baby
Bisphenol A is also used in epoxy resins that line metal products like
The FDA and the American Chemistry Council say bisphenol A is safe for use.
However, another government report -- the National Toxicology Report -- found
concern about effects on the brain, prostate gland, and behavior in fetuses,
infants, and children. And one study found that adults with high levels of BPA
in their urine were more likely to have a history of heart disease or diabetes,
compared to people with low levels of BPA.
What can you do to limit exposure to BPA?
- Look for safer water or baby bottles -- either tempered glass bottles or
plastic bottles made of cloudy plastics like polyethelene or polypropylene
(recycling symbols 1, 2 or 5) are generally safe. Avoid those marked with a "7"
- Don't microwave plastic food containers. Heat can break down plastic
- Don't microwave with cling wraps. Put food in a glass or ceramic dish and
then cover with waxed paper or paper towels.
- Eat fewer canned foods.
- Use glass and ceramic containers to store or microwave foods.
6. Filter your tap water.
Filtered tap water may be a better choice of drinking water than bottled
water. In a recent study, the Environmental Working Group tested 10
best-selling brands of bottled water. Researchers found mixtures of 38
contaminants, including bacteria, fertilizer, and industrial chemicals -- all
at levels similar to those found in tap water.
Here's the catch: Tap water is regulated by the EPA, which requires yearly
public reports identifying the contaminants found in local water sources. But
bottled water is regulated by the FDA, which has no such requirement.
"But even if you live in a place where drinking water is considered good,
there can still be trace amounts of chemicals that may be toxic," says Baker.
Although your local water company filters tap water, it still comes through
with contaminants -- including lead, chlorine, E. coli, pesticides. Simply
filtering your tap water can remove lots of these pollutants.
A simple pitcher-type water filter may be all you need for very drinkable
water, Baker advises. There are also filters that attach to a faucet or to the
plumbing system. Consumer Reports has published a review of 27 water
Filtering your tap water "is an easy thing to do -- you don't have to invest
a lot of money in it," she says. "You just change the filters regularly. It's a
'better safe than sorry' approach." You’ll also cut down on waste in landfills
by not buying – and then tossing – plastic bottles.