Household chemicals and their effect on our bodies


We are exposed to an array of toxic household chemicals daily which are can have serious health consequences. 

Health and wellness are not isolated to diet and exercise, but also must incorporate the minimizing of exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals.

Here are some of the more obvious chemicals to be mindful of.


Toxic chemicals such as benzaldehyde, camphor, ethyl acetate, benzyl acetate, linalool, acetone and methylene chloride are commonly found in fragrances and can contribute to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, throat, eye, skin and lung irritation as well as kidney damage and headaches.

Cleaning products

Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals such as phthalates and chemical wetting agents.  Natural products like baking soda, vinegar or lemon and hot water often work just as well without covering your home in toxic chemicals. There is also more awareness commercially so there are many green cleaning products available to choose from.

Air Fresheners

Excessive use of air fresheners in unventilated areas release toxic levels of pollutants such as ethylene-based glycol ethers and paradichlorobenzene. Using an air purifier with natural essential oils will be far more environmentally friendly without the toxic effect on your body. Essential oils can also be put in a spray bottle with purified water to provide a pleasant-smelling alternative.


The average person applies between six and 12 cosmetic items per day and most of these will include toxic chemicals that are potentially harmful to you. It’s always a good idea to look for cosmetics that are free of synthetic fragrances or that are mineral-based or made from natural ingredients.


Most people wear antiperspirants to avoid body odour, but aluminium is one of the main ingredients used in antiperspirants. Aluminium is a heavy metal that can increase the risk for breast cancer as well as cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium free deodorants are available and bicarb or essential oils can also be used to alleviate body odour.

Insect Repellents

Insecticides have been shown to cause neurological damage in children. To avoid insects inside, avoid leaving foods where they are easily accessible to flies, ants, and other insects. Keep your countertops clean and if necessary, use bicarb, borax, citronella, or vinegar as natural repellents.

Many of these and other chemicals are endocrine disruptors which means they affect our hormonal systems. This can influence estrogen and testosterone balance, thyroid hormones, and adrenal and pituitary hormones.

When we are exposed to a single chemical our bodies are more likely to be able to deal with it, but when we are exposed continuously to multiple varieties of chemicals, we are much more likely to experience negative effects.

Some individuals have a heightened sensitivity to chemicals and can develop a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. This can also be known as Sick Building Syndrome or can be referred to as idiopathic environmental intolerance.

These individuals report symptoms such as headache, fatigue, dizziness, chest pain, sneezing, breathing problems, muscle pain, skin rashes, diarrhea, bloating, confusion, mood changes, concentration difficulties, and problems with memory when exposed to certain chemical triggers. They usually have an exaggerated response to the trigger because their immune systems over-respond to what is seen as a threat to the body.

Chemical-free products are more readily available so switch to these, not only to reduce toxic exposure for yourself and your family but to reduce the effect of toxins on the environment too.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 5 May 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am