Is the environment — your home environment — hazardous to your health? With new research continuing to show that unhealthy substances found in everyday products often pose higher risks for certain segments of the population, it's a question that might loom larger for you.
See also: 5 ways you can help the environment.
With good reason. Longer life spans may increase the chances that cumulative exposure will cause illnesses with long latency periods, such as cancer or Parkinson's disease, to develop. And older people are more likely to have conditions — such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes — that can dramatically reduce their ability to withstand exposure to environmental hazards.
The stakes increase with age as our bodies tend to process and eliminate toxicants more slowly. "The slowing down of kidney, liver and immune system functioning all play a role," says Sandra Steingraber, the author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment.
Weeding out potentially hazardous substances in your home can be a challenge, but it's not impossible. "We're not suggesting that you do away with all these things immediately," says Paul McRandle, deputy editor at the National Geographic Green Guide.