Let’s Talk Prevention: Tips to Reduce Your Exposure

Let’s Talk Prevention: Tips to Reduce Your Exposure

Female Members Of Multi Generation Family At HomeMany chemicals of concern are industrial chemicals that don’t stay isolated inside factories. Studies have found hundreds of man-made chemicals in our air, water, food, consumer products, and in samples of human blood and urine. Let’s Talk Prevention: Reducing Toxic Exposures is a program to prevent diseases, like breast cancer, by describing ways to avoid common chemicals of concern linked with negative health impacts. Review the information below for tips on reducing toxic exposures and choosing safer alternatives to harmful products. Use the button below to view or download the brochure:

*Translation made possible by Genevieve K. Howe and Martha G. Soto

*Translation made possible by Ludan Zhang, a member of Asian Women for Health

*Translation made possible by Naoko Ushimaru-Alsop 丑丸アルソップ直子

*Translation made possible by Lianne Mokfienski Ramos

*Translation made possible by Michelle Park, Ed Kim and Helen Lee


Seven Basic Steps to Reduce Exposure

Here are seven of the easiest steps you can take to reduce exposure for yourself and your family. Don’t become overwhelmed – start with small steps to reduce exposure and increase from there! Click on each tip below to read more.

1. Wash your hands

clean hands

Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, and after handling chemicals like cleaning products. Use soap without parabens and triclosan (see the section below for more information about these chemicals).

2. Take off your shoes


Leave shoes at the door to avoid tracking pesticides and other chemicals inside. Ask guests to do the same. Chemicals tracked into your home can build up inside carpeting and pose risks, especially to babies and pets.

3. Shorten showers

Take shorter showers to limit inhalation of airborne chemicals and reduce skin absorption of chemicals from water and shower products.

4. Keep air fresh

Open windows every so often to ventilate indoor air. Don’t allow smoking inside and avoid using commercial air fresheners which can contain unsafe fragrance chemicals. Toxic chemicals, such as flame retardants (see below), can settle in dust so keep dust levels low by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and cleaning with a microfiber cloth – these naturally trap dust and dirt without chemical additives.

5. Store food safely


Reduce the amount of time your food is stored in the original packaging. This will reduce your exposure to any food additives or preservatives added to the packaging. Transfer your food (and leftovers) into an airtight glass, stainless steel, or ceramic container. Try not to use plastic food and beverage containers and avoid microwaving plastic. Chemicals like BPA and phthalates (see section below) can move from plastic into food, especially when heated.

6. Buy fresh and organic


Buy organic produce as often as possible. Fresh is best but go for dried or frozen instead of canned. This will reduce exposure to pesticide residues on produce and food additives in cans such as BPA and phthalates (see section below).

7. Educate

Childhood dangers

Educate yourself and your family about the dangers of toxic chemicals. Investigate safer alternatives to products you use often such as cleaning products, toiletries, cosmetics, lawn care etc.


Know these common chemicals of concern…

Click each chemical name to read more.

BPA (Bisphenol A)

BPA can be found in food can linings, store receipts, and plastic products like water bottles, food containers, and toys.

To reduce exposure, use fresh or frozen foods instead of canned and avoid microwaving plastic containers.

Flame Retardants

iStock_000006712482XSmallFlame retardants such as PBDE and others are used in electronics, children’s pajamas, and furniture.

These chemicals can also settle in house dust so keep dust levels low to reduce exposure inside your home (see “Keep air fresh” section above).

PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPAHs can be found in charred meats, tobacco smoke, and car exhaust.

You can minimize char when grilling by using marinades, reducing heat level and avoiding prolonged cooking times.


Applying MakeupParabens are used in toiletries and cosmetics.

To avoid parabens, check for products without parabens as an ingredient or those labeled “Paraben-free.” Or click the button below and try making your own nontoxic products!

Perfluorinated Compounds

Perfluorinated compounds are used in stain resistant clothing/fabrics and nonstick cookware.

To reduce exposure, use cast iron or steel clad pots/pans instead of nonstick and try to avoid clothing and carpeting labeled as “stain resistant.”Shirt CollarPan with Eggs


Pesticides include weed and bug killers used inside the home, in the garden, or nearby in agriculture.

To reduce ingestion of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, try to buy organic produce whenever possible. To avoid pests without the use of chemical pesticides, store food tightly, wipe up crumbs, and seal cracks in windows and doors (click the button below for a factsheet about nontoxic pesticide alternatives).


Shower curtainPhthalates are used in soft plastics like shower curtains, fragrances, toiletries and cosmetics.

To reduce exposure, try to avoid pliable plastic products and opt for cloth shower curtains instead of vinyl.


Consumer Products Collage CroppedTriclosan can be found as an ingredient in toiletries and cosmetics, especially in antibacterial soaps.

Luckily, triclosan is usually listed as an “active ingredient” on personal care product labels. To avoid exposure, check labels for products without triclosan.


Take time to read product labels

Some products may contain chemicals that are not listed on the label. For example, the ingredient “fragrance” can represent large mixtures of potentially harmful chemicals. However, making a habit of reading labels can help you identify and avoid harmful ingredients that are listed.

When you’re checking labels keep these tips in mind:

Choose cleaning products, toiletries, and cosmetics labeled as “fragrance-free.” Even products labeled as “unscented” can include unlisted fragrance masking compounds.

Look for “flame retardant-free” and not “flame resistant” or “TB 117 compliant” on children’s pajamas, furniture, and bedding.

Try to avoid cookware, clothing, and furnishings labeled as “stain resistant” or “non-stick.”

Back to Top