Reduce Your Toxic Load Series: Detox Your Bedroom
When you think of areas of your home that might contain toxins, I bet your bedroom is the last room on your list. You may be surprised to learn that there are several things in this room that may contain potentially harmful chemicals. Since we spend an average of 8 hours a day here, it’s important to make sure it’s as healthy as possible.
As of July 2007, all mattresses sold in the U.S. are required to meet stringent fire safety tests. Many contain chemical fire retardants, which may help reduce the risk of fire, but may also be carcinogenic. Mattresses can also contain pesticides, polyurethane, and petroleum-based polyester. Fortunately, there are greener mattress makers that use other materials like natural latex, wool, and melamine while avoiding stain-and water-repellant finishes, that reduce your exposure to toxins. Try brands like Pure Echo, Savvy Rest, New Hope, Bean Products, Naturepedic, Essentia, and Lifekind.
Varnishes, finishes, particle board, and other materials often used in making bedroom furniture can give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can pollute indoor air and lead to skin irritation and respiratory problems. Look for furniture made from solid wood or that use low-VOC materials and finishes. Try brands like E.C.O., Pacific Rim, Eco Chic, and others.
Sheets, Blankets, Etc.
Cotton may be comfy and handy, but it’s also one of the world’s most-sprayed crops when it comes to pesticides. May not hurt you by the time you sleep on it, but not the greatest for the environment. Some bed linens release formaldehyde, as well. Try organic cotton sheets instead, or bamboo, or other natural fibers, and eco-friendly pillows. Good brands include Earthsake, Gaiam, Shilpa Rathi, Bambooki, and others.
They’re romantic, but candles can also emit toxins like astoluene and benzene. Choose those made of natural waxes like vegetable, soybean, or beeswax, and those that are made with 100% essential oils—not synthetic fragrance.
How often do you dust your bedroom? Perhaps not often enough. Research shows that dust can contain phthalates, flame-retardants, disinfectants, pesticides, and other potentially toxic ingredients. Regularly wipe down furniture with a wet or microfiber cloth, and vacuum frequently. You may also want to consider an air filter for your bedroom.
Many plants can naturally clean the air, filter out toxins, and add fresh oxygen, so they’re great for your bedroom. Try the rubber plant, lady palm, Boston fern, spider plant, and others mentioned here.
Consider an Air Purifier
Clean out indoor allergens and contaminants with an air purifier. Try a Vita Air purifier, which removes 99 percent of airborn particles.
Get Rid of the Phones
Cordless phones and cell phones both emit low levels of radiation. Two Swedish studies found that prolonged exposure adversely affects sleep and severely disrupts sleep patterns. Researchers also noted that using a handset before bed makes people take longer to reach the deeper stages of sleep and to spend less time in them. Disrupted sleep interferes with your body’s ability to repair itself.
No Computers or Televisions
Like cell phones, computer monitors emit low levels of radiation. Not a good idea to be working on one right before bed. Watching television before bed can also mean a less sound sleep, and studies show that having a TV in your bedroom cuts your sex life in half. Make your bedroom a peaceful haven, instead.
Leave Shoes Out
A study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that pesticides can be tracked into residences on shoes. Walk on a lawn that’s been treated with pesticides, and you can walk those chemicals right into your house. The EPA study also suggested that 80 percent of most people’s exposure to pesticides occurs indoors. Leave your shoes by the front door, and wear slippers in the house.
Energy saving light bulbs can emit harmful chemicals when turned on, including phenol, naphthalene, and styrene. They also contain mercury—a concern if the bulb is broken—and have been linked to migraine headaches. Choose regular, soft light bulbs instead.
What About Paint?
Many standard paints emit toxic VOC compounds like benzene and formaldehyde. If you want to redecorate, choose low-VOC and natural paints.
Air Out Your Dry Cleaning
Most dry-cleaning shops use a chemical called “perchloroethylene” as the primary cleaning solvent. Short-term exposure can cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and sweating. Use other options for cleaning, or hang your clothes out in the garage for a couple days before bringing them into your bedroom.