Known Carcinogens That Hide in our Homes

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You bought a new citrus-scented air freshener and your home smells lovely. Just the way you want it. But have you wondered what is in those citrus-smelling particles you are breathing in? Did you know your air freshener could contain carcinogens?

Wait, What Are Carcinogens?

Simply put, carcinogens are cancer-causing elements. Unfortunately, how they cause cancer is not entirely known. Examples of carcinogens include benzene, 1-4 dioxane, glyphosate.

Man, those are some big words.

But do not worry, we are not going back to high school chemistry.

We will only be looking into the names of these carcinogens and their sources. You will learn what to avoid and how to change to healthier, natural alternatives!

Related Article: Do You Know What You’re Putting On Your Skin? Watch out for these harmful chemicals in your beauty products.

5 Known Carcinogens That Hide in Our Homes

1. Lead

Lead is a naturally-occurring element commonly found in colorants. Although lead has been banned from house paint since 1978, it is still used in cosmetic products such as lipstick. It has also been found in hydrated silica, a toothpaste ingredient.

2. 1-4 Dioxane


This element is frequently found in air fresheners and personal care products. According to a 2011 study, a single fragrance (e.g.: citrus scent) can react with ozone in the air to form secondary pollutants. Also, keep a lookout for dioxane in products that contain “sodium laureth sulfate” or “polyethylene glycol”.

3. Coal tar

People are mainly exposed to coal tar when they inhale it or absorb it through the skin. It is a common active ingredient in dandruff shampoos as well as anti-itch creams for eczema. Furthermore, that nice blue dye in toothpaste and green color in your mouthwash? There is coal tar in them as well.

4. Glyphosate


Glyphosate is a universally used weed killer in the agricultural industry. Therefore, it is likely to be present on any vegetables and fruits that are not organic. Besides food, green scientist Cara Bondi also adds that items made from non-organic plant-based materials (e.g.: cotton) may also be contaminated with glyphosate.

5. Benzene


Benzene is one of the causes of diseases as acute leukemia and blood disorders. Indoors, we may unconsciously inhale benzene from adhesives and kitchen degreasers. According to WHO, homes with attached garages may also have higher levels of benzene due to car exhaust – another source of the carcinogen.

Related Article: Our Favorite Plant-based household products

How to Reduce Exposure to Carcinogens

You do not need to throw away every potential carcinogen-containing household product or bulldoze your attached garage.

What you can do is reduce your exposure with these 3 simple suggestions!  

  • Freshening up your home? Place potted mint leaves in your kitchen and living room. Brush your hand over them to release the scent.
  • “Oh, no! What about my skin?” Check out our favorite natural (and cruelty-free!) personal care products on Plantie.
  • Organic vegetables a little pricey? Screw that. Grow your own. At Plantie, we provide guidelines on how to make your own compost and start an edible garden!

Have you tried any other natural alternatives? Drop a comment and share it with us!


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