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
These chemicals are expensive, too. "These pesticides are not cheap," says
Landrigan. "You can easily spend a hundred bucks on one Saturday morning on
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
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
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
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.