By Arianna Puopolo
Health/Science Reporter

Caution: Many everyday products contain harmful toxins and carcinogens that pose a threat to public health and the environment. Every purchase you make can be a step toward conservation. Before you pay up, take a moment to weigh the significance of your choices and make sure you and the planet won’t be paying in the long run. Be a conscious shopper.

Ditch the Bleach.

* During production, chlorine from bleach often washes into ground water. This toxin is linked to various types of cancer as well as cardiovascular disorder. It is a health hazard for people and animals.

* Tampons and pads bleached with chlorine may contain traces of this toxic chemical, posing health risks to women. Additionally, once they are disposed of, the chlorine in these products becomes part of a waste compound. Chlorine-free tampons and pads are available.

* While bleached napkins and toilet paper pose a lesser risk for human health, there are still environmental repercussions from toiletry production with bleach.

* Brewing your coffee in bleached filters means running the risk of your coffee containing chlorine. Buy unbleached filters or use cloth, and steer clear of ingesting carcinogenic bleach.

* Another place to avoid using bleach in your everyday life: printer paper. Recycled and non-bleached office paper is available at most office supply stores.

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean…

* Plug-in and other commercial air fresheners contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen. Try investing in an air filter or opening your windows for a cross-breeze to avoid inhaling harmful toxins.

* Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners on tarnished silver. Baking soda or white vinegar do the trick, and using these agents may save you a trip to the store and a few bills in your wallet.

* Instead of cleaning, your laundry detergent and dish soap may be adding to the grime on your cloths and dishes. Many commercial laundry detergents contain petroleum-based ingredients as well as other harmful agents. Opt for products with eco-friendly ingredients, like Seventh Generation cleaning products. White wine vinegar can also be a substitute for dish soap and fabric softener.

* Surface cleaners that may contain ammonia can be very dangerous. Ammonia deteriorates skin, eyes and lungs. Orange Blast and certain other cleaners contain citric acid and are not a substantial health risk.

Note to self: If you like writing yourself reminders, invest in a whiteboard with nontoxic dry erase markers to save paper. Keysan brand and other water-based markers are non-toxic options. Or try sending yourself a text.