10 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Safer and Healthier
4. Ditch pesticides.
Pesticides kill roaches, mice, ants, and lawn pests. But overexposure and chronic small exposures may put children at risk of a range of health problems, including asthma, learning disabilities, and problems with brain development.
These chemicals are expensive, too. "These pesticides are not cheap," says Landrigan. "You can easily spend a hundred bucks on one Saturday morning on them."
The problem is, "people don't see the damage the chemicals are doing to themselves and to their child," he tells WebMD. "It's silent, but nevertheless real damage."
Save money and promote health by focusing on prevention. Simple steps can keep roaches away -- like washing dishes very carefully, cleaning up all food residue, keeping food packages and containers tightly closed, and sealing any cracks that are a point of entry into your home. Landrigan has tested these methods in New York City apartment buildings, where roaches can seem firmly entrenched. "It's basic stuff, but it works," he says.
Instead of spraying herbicides on your lawn, "don't be so worried about weeds," says Landrigan. "Get used to a little imperfection. Rather than spraying, your time is better spent burning calories -- pulling weeds," he says.
You can learn about non-chemical, commonsense ways of reducing indoor and lawn/garden pests -- a concept called Integrated Pest Management. Look for the EPA's on-line booklet: "Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety."
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 bottles.
Bisphenol A is also used in epoxy resins that line metal products like canned foods.
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" or "PC."
- Don't microwave plastic food containers. Heat can break down plastic fibers.
- 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.