Most of us shower almost daily and view the process as something relatively innocuous – healthy, even! Few of us would suspect how many health-related risks we can expose ourselves to by simply being in our bathrooms during regular rituals of hygiene. So what are these hidden dangers and what can we do to protect ourselves, prevent toxic exposure and maintain our health?
Cleaning Products: Chemical detergents and cleaning products intended for the bathroom are among the harshest available on the market and be extremely toxic to humans, particularly because they are used in the smallest room of the house which often has poor ventilation. Cleaners for the toilet bowl and scrubs for the shower are not meant to be inhaled in close proximity, nor should they come in direct contact with your skin. Even worse, there are some cleaning products that, when combined, can form noxious gases that can actually kill you! The following three cleaning product combinations can be lethal and should be avoided at all costs. In fact, we recommend chucking your commercial cleaning products completely to seek out all-natural alternatives. These can easily be found at your local health-food store or can be DIY from home!
Bleach with… anything.
Same products but different brands.
Detergents and Ammonia.
Shower Curtain: The cheap shower liners that people use for the inside of their fabric curtains could actually be slowly poisoning you. If you shower liner is plastic, it’s toxic. Generally speaking, that “new shower curtain” plastic smell is a softener that is added to the plastic to make it more sheet-like and able to adjust to the contours of your tub. Various environmental agencies have found that these chemicals are associated with low birth weights in children and a host of other serious health concerns. This is primarily due to the presence of phthalates, vinyl chloride and VOCs which have been linked to respiratory disorders, liver failure, nervous system disorders and poor reproductive health. They have also been linked to certain types of cancers. Opt instead for a fabric shower curtain. It’s a bit more expensive but it is a lot safer and you never need to replace it – simply take it down and throw it in the laundry when it needs to be cleaned!
SLS: Sodium-Lauryl-Sulfate has become a notorious and infamous ingredient in shampoos, body washes, soaps and toothpastes over the years. This is because, despite being a proven carcinogenic agent, it is still permitted to be added as an ingredient to many of the products you use in the bathroom! You can experiment with DIY all-natural bath products to avoid this harsh chemical, or you can visit your local health food store to find natural, pre-made bath products instead.
Parabens: Whether they’re in your lotions, your shampoos or your conditioner, parabens are everywhere these days. And even though they have the same bad reputation that SLS does, they also continue to be added to bath products at a dizzying rate. A single product can contain dozens of different forms of parabens which disrupt the body’s endocrine system and hae been studied for their cancer-causing properties as well. Go natural to avoid at all costs!
Mold: Where there is dampness and darkness, there is mold. The bathroom is often damp and can be quite dark, serving as the perfect haven for dangerous molds to flourish. Using anti-fungal and anti-bacterial natural cleaning products like tea tree oil and citrus oils can help keep mold at bay, as can regularly maintaining the cleaning of your bathroom. Mold colonies feed off themselves so make sure you give your bathtub, walls and sink a regular scrub to prevent them from building up. Mold can be highly toxic (especially black mold which needs to be removed by professionals!) and detrimental to the nervous and neurological systems over longer periods of time. After showers, make sure you open your shower curtain to stop water from getting trapped in its folds where mold can grow and make sure to leave you bathroom door wide open to stop the humidity from building up regularly in addition to cranking your fan.
Your Water: Water is what we use to clean ourselves right? So how could it be dangerous? Well, in reality, municipal authorities add chlorine to water to allegedly purify it and when we take extremely hot showers, this chlorine evaporates with the steam and we inhale it directly as a vapour. Combined with the VOCs of plastic shower curtain liners, the chemicals together are highly toxic. But how can avoid using water in the shower? You can’t, but you can filter that water using a charcoal, or Vitamin C shower filter which can be purchased at your local health food store. The investment is small but the benefits are huge. If you prefer baths, vitamin C tablets are also available to simply add to your bath water.
Your Toilet: As disgusting as this may sound, a lot of people do not realize that when you flush your toilet, it can shoot tiny droplets of water into the air if you don’t keep the lid down. Generally speaking, it’s not only water going down the toilet so if you’re flushing with the lid up, you are spraying whatever you’ve put in that toilet all around the bathroom. Since most people do not cover up their toothbrushes, you can imagine what gets on there, every time you go to the bathroom. Boil your brushes or buy new ones and close that lid from now on.