Cleaning house doesn’t mean nasty chemicals have to pollute your home. Your next home cleaning campaign or daunting do-it-yourself projects can be done without poisoning the air or tainting your local water supply. Most of our safer alternatives will even save you money, too. Here are five chemical culprits to kick out of your house—and the nontoxic options that should move in instead.
1. Coal-tar driveway sealant.
If you plan to seal your blacktop driveway this spring, avoid coal-tar based sealants. They contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which studies suggest can be carcinogenic, toxic, and mutagenic. When rainwater and other precipitation hit your driveway, the toxic chemicals run off into your yard and into your local drinking water supply. In fact, this situation has been compared to dumping quarts of motor oil right down a storm drain.
Gravel and other porous materials are best for driveways, because they allow rainwater to sink into the ground, where it’s filtered and won’t inundate water treatment plants. But if you do seal blacktop, pick asphalt sealant and stay away from any product that has coal tar in its name (or products simply called “driveway sealant”). Lowe’s and Home Depot have already banned the bad stuff, but smaller hardware stores may still carry it.