How Toxins In Home Affect Mental Health

I was listening to Max Lagavere’s The Genius Life Podcast Episode 106 with guest Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Dr. Amen is a psychiatrist and brain health expert, a pioneer in brain SPECT imaging, he introduced a whole new way of looking at the brain. 

What he has discovered over his years of research is that “if you want to keep your brain healthy or rescue your brain from heading to dark places, you have to treat the 11 risk factors that steal your mind.” – Dr. Danieal Amen

One of the risk factors is Toxins. Toxins are one of the primary causes of memory loss and aging and can be found in our daily lives including in alcohol, skincare products, cleaning products and for today’s topic, our homes.

According to Dr. Amen’s research, these toxins can cause neuropsychological issues including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain Fog and Memory Problems
  • Vertigo
  • Coordination Problem
  • Focus and Concentration Issues

What are the toxins lurking in our homes?

I will start by mentioning, it is very uncommon to have a home or any indoor environment for that matter, not contain toxins. This is why some designers, architects and other professionals are making it their mission to change the way we design and build buildings. 

It is important to know and recognize the most common toxins found in our homes today, so next time you decide to renovate or build, you know what to look for. A few simple strategies to reduce exposure to toxins in the home include:

  • Know the most common toxins found in the home today
  • Find safe substitutes, mitigate the hazard or do without the product
  • Ventilate your home regularly (why indoor air quality is so important!)

Let’s get into the 6  most common toxins found in today’s household:

  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOC’s are organic chemicals that contain carbon and are emitted as gases from certain solids and liquids. These chemicals have both long and short term adverse health effects. VOC’s are 10x greater indoors than outdoors and are emitted by a wide array of products and materials such as carpets, adhesives, paint, pressed wood products, and more.


  1.  Pesticides

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill or control pests. According to a recent study, 80% of exposure to pesticides occurs indoors and that measurable levels of up to a dozen pesticides have been found inside homes. This killing agent can cause a multitude of health affects such as headaches, dizziness, muscular weakness, and even damage to the endocrine and nervous system. Pesticides can be carried into the homes from non organic fruits and vegetables and of course from pest control chemicals. 


  1.  Phthalates and PVC

PVC’s contain phthalates, dioxins and BPA. These are toxic in all stages of its life cycle, containing large amounts of chlorine gas, and vinyl chloride, a dangerous carcinogen. It is one of the most used materials in the building industry and can be found in vinyl flooring, wall-coverings, window shades, water piping, window assemblies and electrical wiring just to name a few. Possible health effects include cancer, endocrine disruption and brain damage. 


  1. Heavy Metals

The heavy metals like arsenic,mercury, lead and aluminum are most common in our environments. These metals can destroy your health and accelerate aging and contribute to memory loss. These metals can be found in lead based paints, piping, drinking water, pots and pans and other common household items and materials. 

  1. Formaldehyde 

Formaldehyde is a colorless, pungent-smelling gas that off gases from materials such as carpets, pressed woods, adhesives, etc. It is that “fresh carpet smell”. This toxin can trigger asthma attacks and has been shown to cause cancer in animals and some humans. 


  1.  Mold Exposure

One in three people have had an allergic reaction to mold. These fungal toxins can cause a range of health problems with exposure to only a small amount. Mold will grow in places with moisture, such as around leaks in roofs and water pipes. Mold can cause a variety of health affects or none at all.

Dr. Amens shares a story about his former patient, Dave Asprey CEO of Bulletproof Coffee and how mold exposure impacted his mental health: Watch Here

So what can we do about these harmful toxins in our homes?

I know this may seem overwhelming, the important thing to remember is that you do not need to do it all! My advice is to consider the three main things when building or remodeling: your paint, your flooring and your indoor air quality. Stay tuned for additional blog posts and podcast as I will dive into each of those areas so you can be educated and informed about what your options are.

Have you checked out the podcast?

Rather listen than read? Every week I release a new episode on the Wellness by Design podcast. Learn more about alternative health solutions and about building healthier, happier homes.



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