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It's easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to reducing toxins in your home. Before you pull up stakes and start searching for a sterile bubble to live in, realize that taking small steps to cleaning up the most prevalent toxins can make a big impact.
There are more than 260 contaminants — including chlorine, lead, and pesticides — found in tap water, according to the EWG. Luckily, it's easier than ever to make the water you drink and bathe in safe. First, find out how your water quality rates by checking out the EWG's National Tap Water Quality Database at ewg.org.
- Lose the heavy metal
Lead can get into drinking water a number of ways, but one of the most common is via old pipes, says Kristin Marstiller, senior program manager of home and community partnerships and initiatives at the National Safety Council in Washington, D.C. “If you have an older home, you may have lead in your water, either from the old pipes themselves or from the lead solder that was used on pipes in the past,” she says. You don't necessarily have to replace your pipes if you suspect lead, though. Installing a home water-filtration system may be effective (visit the National Safety Foundation website at nsf.org to find out more about household water-treatment options).
- Get clear
Depending upon your locale, your drinking water may contain varying levels of health-compromising chlorine, toxic metals such as mercury and lead, and pesticides and microbes such as salmonella and cryptosporidium, says Sass. To remove these, the Natural Resources Defense Council recommends using a water filter with NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certification.
- Shower safely
Drinking a cool glass of H2O isn't the only way waterborne toxins can get into your body. For example, your skin readily absorbs chlorine — a possible carcinogen — when you shower. The chlorine levels in most tap water are high enough that your exposure during a 10-minute wash can equal as much as if you were to drink eight glasses of chlorinated water, particularly because warm water opens your pores and increases absorption. Novacovici suggests using a filter on your shower faucet head (average cost: $30).