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Claire Moshenberg's picture

I'm trying to stop biting my nails. Why? Because it's universally viewed as a gross habit, even by me, the lifelong on-again, off-again nail biter. This reason has never worked for me when it comes to giving up this unfortunate, stress-induced and inducing habit. But one reason that is working for me right now is the toxic chemicals exposure every nail biting moment is giving me.

We're all trying to keep toxic chemicals at bay. Luckily, there are quick, affordable changes you can start making today to lessen your chemical exposures (including putting an end to nail biting!). So in the spirit of breaking bad habits, here are the top 5 toxic habits you should break.

Biting your nails: Just like keeping your hands clean is an excellent way to lessen your chemical load, keeping your hands out of your mouth is equally important. Don't beat yourself up if quitting takes time; I'm a lifelong on-again, off-again nail biter, and I know how hard it is to break this particular habit. Here are a few things you can do: Keep your nails short and your hands and nails clean. Be thorough: The amount of time required to thoroughly wash your hands is 20 seconds, which is also how long it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice in a row. Be careful when it comes to polishes that are marketed to stop nail biting; these often also contain toxic chemicals. Having manicured nails helps some people curb their nail biting cravings: If that works for you, make sure you're choosing polishes that don't contain toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).

Talking on the phone: No, don't throw that phone away or turn it off forever. But when it's time to make or take a call, use your hands free headset as much as possible: Headsets emit less radiation than cell phones. Keep your cellphone away from soft tissue on your body by not keeping it in your pocket and using the speaker phone option when your headset is not available. Check out EWG's buying guide for cell phone headsets to help you find the safest headset with the least radiation.
Using air fresheners: Look, everyone wants a delightful, fresh-rain-new-laundry-mountain-whatever smelling home. But air fresheners are not the way to go when it comes to keeping your indoor air smelling fresh. While improving the indoor air scent, air fresheners also contribute to indoor air pollution and often contain phthalates, galaxolide, and tonalide. Improve your indoor air quality by opening the windows for a few minutes every day and by keeping plants (nature's air purifiers) the house. You can also make an easy, DIY  air freshener by adding cinnamon, herbs, or citrus to a pot of boiling water.
Drinking bottled water: Say no to bottled water!  It adds up financially, and it adds up in our landfills: Those convenient plastic bottles create 1.5 million tons of plastic every year. Also, the plastic may leech endocrine disruptors, which are linked to early puberty, infertility, and obesity. Filter your tap water and replace plastic water bottles with a stainless steel bottle.

Ignoring electronics: When it comes to home cleaning, electronics need love too. Brominated flame retardants and heavy metals appear in most electronic equipment, which means they also migrate into the dust on your television, computer, and more. Incorporate dusting the electronics in your home into your regular cleaning routine.

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