How dangerous are these pollutants? VOCs are known to aggravate allergies and asthma. Chronic exposure to some VOCs is linked to cancer or reproductive disorders.
So what household items cause harmful gasses in your home?
Just about everyone knows that plastics are linked with pollution. Polyvinyl chloride (vinyl and PVC) is one of the most toxic plastics. It is often found in flooring, carpeting, shower curtains, window treatments, fabrics and even furniture. If exposed to high temperatures, PVCs release poisonous dioxins that are known to cause irreversible lung damage.
Although PET carpeting – carpet made of recycled water bottles – is considered a green solution for environment friendly homes, the downside is that it contains harmful chemicals. Constant wear and tear on the carpet releases plastic particles in the air that can be inhaled by occupants.
To avoid potentially dangerous plastics in the home, choose organic materials instead. Wool or other natural fiber carpeting are healthier. Concrete or bamboo flooring are other sustainable alternatives to improve the air quality in your home. Choose furniture and home decor made of natural materials instead of plastic.
Teflon, found on most non-stick pans, will release toxins at high temperatures. Even if you do not cook with extreme heat, the Teflon coating on a pan will breakdown over time. Studies have shown that exposure to Teflon has been linked to pulmonary diseases.
Most cleaning solutions contain VOCs. Sadly, there are not enough non-VOC cleaning supplies readily available. Take extra precautions when using cleaning chemicals. Provide adequate indoor ventilation by opening windows and doors when cleaning. Use the least amount of chemicals as possible. An alternative would be to use natural solutions such as vinegar or baking soda.
When you smell fresh paint, what you are really inhaling are VOCs. When paint dries, it releases gas fumes. Inhaling them over a period of time may cause headaches and dizziness. Old paint that starts to flake also may be ingested by people. Nowadays, there are more paints than ever before being offered with low or no VOCs. Although slightly more pricey, no-VOC paint will benefit your health in the long run. Check your local home improvement store for non-VOC paint.
- Make sure your home has proper ventilation. Open windows and doors to air out your home. If remodeling your home, choose windows that can open/close.
- Use fewer home fragrances, such as air fresheners or deodorizing sprays.
- Add more indoor greenery to your home. Plants improve air quality by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in your home.
- Read the labels when purchasing products.