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Four common household items that could make you sick

Health and Mental Health

Four common household items that could make you sick

Recent findings reveal that everyday items like smartphones, tablets, non-stick pans, and even antibacterial cleaners could be posing significant health risks in our homes…

From harbouring harmful pathogens on our most-used devices to inadvertently exposing us to toxic chemicals through cooking and cleaning, these risks, if not managed, could have long-term implications on our health.

Plumbworld, the experts in bathroom and kitchen products, highlights the underestimated risks posed by commonplace items in our living spaces.  The implications of not addressing these risks are extensive, affecting not only our immediate health but also potentially contributing to long-term wellness issues.

1. Smartphones and Tablets

In the modern home, smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous, even in spaces like the kitchen and bathroom, where they can become vectors for germ transmission. Their surfaces can harbour various pathogens, including bacteria such as E. coli and viruses such as the flu or the novel coronavirus. The risk is heightened when these devices are used before handwashing or during food preparation, potentially transferring germs to food or other surfaces. Regular disinfection of these devices, especially after they’ve been in high-risk areas or used in food preparation, is crucial. Disinfection can be achieved by gently wiping the device with a cloth moistened with 70% isopropyl alcohol, taking care to avoid excessive moisture that could damage the device.

2. Non-stick Cooking Pans

The convenience of non-stick cooking pans is undeniable, but it’s essential to be aware of their potential health risks. When overheated or scratched, the chemical coating that provides the non-stick surface can start to degrade, potentially releasing toxic substances into the air and food. This coating, usually made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), can emit harmful gases when subjected to high temperatures. These gases have been linked to various health issues in animal studies. To reduce these risks, avoid preheating non-stick pans at high temperatures without food in them, and replace pans that show signs of scratching or peeling. Opting for high-quality, durable pans and using them within recommended temperature limits can help minimise exposure to these potentially harmful substances.

3. Plastic Storage Containers

Plastic containers are a staple in many kitchens for storing food. However, certain plastics can leach chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates into food, especially when heated. These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, capable of interfering with the body’s hormonal systems and potentially leading to developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune disorders. To avoid these risks, it’s advised to use alternatives such as glass or ceramic containers for heating food. Additionally, being cautious with the use of plastic containers, such as avoiding those not labelled as microwave-safe, can help reduce exposure to these chemicals.

4. Antibacterial Cleaners

The efficacy of antibacterial cleaners in everyday household use has been debated, with research suggesting that they offer no significant benefit over traditional soap and water in preventing illness. Furthermore, the active ingredients in these cleaners, such as triclosan and triclocarban, can contribute to antibiotic resistance and have been linked to various health issues, including dermatitis. The long-term environmental impact of these substances, including their contribution to water pollution and impact on aquatic life, adds to the concerns. It’s advisable to use these products sparingly, favouring products with fewer and safer ingredients, or opting for traditional cleaning methods that have proven effective over time.

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