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Are Homes Toxic?

My husbands cigarette box, courtesy the government, lists a handful of ingredients: Tar, Nicotine, Carbon monoxide, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen cyanide, and Benzene. There are probably more to list, but the flap is only so big. Many families with smokers have taken measures to keep the children (or themselves) away from smoke. They take it to one ventilated room, take it outside, or for the ultimate and only full protection they wisely abandon smokes forever.

You’re no doubt aware of that, considering all the media attention on a cigarette’s toxic fumes. What you may not be aware of is the “ingredient list” of everything that remains in your home. There are still dangerous fumes in homes everywhere, and I’m not talking about so and so’s habit of breaking wind.

Our homes have their own toxic sludge, even sharing some “ingredients” with cigarettes, like Formaldehyde!

Did you know?

*Wrinkle-free sheets contain formaldehyde. Your mattress probably does too!

*Some bath towels contain toxic chemical residues.

*If a family members workplace has issues with asbestos, lead, or other toxins, said toxins can be carried home!

*That “new car smell” is Vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen.

*Is your house over 30 yrs. old? Until the ’70’s many paints, floor finishes, and possibly more home renovation supplies still contained lead.

*Do you have a wood deck or swing set in your back yard put in before 2004? Weather resistant lawn items made before a certain 2004 (US) ban contain arsenic.

*Most popular home cleaning products contain Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) which are linked to various medical problems including cancer.

Craig Mouldey, the Wood Flooring Guy (www.woodflooringguy.com) says, “there are many products in our homes, including plywood, the core of cabinets, and likely even laminate that uses a urea-formaldehyde adhesive.” Your furniture, your carpets, pretty much everything made by man contains VOCs.

The National Academy of Sciences estimates that 15% of the population currently suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Environmental Illness due to the toxic environments we live in. So many home toxins are in fact, like cigarettes, linked to cancers and other debilitating illnesses. The next front in health may be the home front.

Tips for Clearing the Air in Your Home

-Avoid chemical products and cleaners

+Instead use common baking products like vinegar and baking soda or purchase “all-natural” non-chemical cleaners. If you have a closet full of chemicals, call your local government office for information about their disposal. They consider these items hazardous waste!

-Avoid the use of aerosol sprays (Includes hygiene products!)

+Search for alternatives to aerosol cleaners and hygiene products. If you’re an air freshener addict you can substitute it with an open box of baking soda in every room. You can use herbs as potpourri. For more substitutions see this page from NY’s DEC website. (http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dshm/redrecy/hhw1.htm)

+Keep up on maintenance of furnace, air conditioners, etc. Consider investing in some kind of air filter or cleaner.

+Ventilate high humidity areas such as bathrooms. In fact, ventilate the whole house weather permitting. Recent studies show indoor air pollution is worse than outdoor, even in the big city.

+Have your home tested for radon gas, mold, lead, asbestos and other more common pollutants.

+Use solid wood or at least seal any plywood or particleboard.

+Install hard floors and use very few rugs. Hard floors, which you can wipe clean, won’t harbor VOCs residue from cleaners and aerosols like carpets do. Choose stone, tiles or hardwood floors with nontoxic varnishes.

Also, when making purchases for your home be it bed sheets or renovation plans, google for product information and read labels to find out about the products safety. Look for “low-emitting,” “pesticide free,”"no outgassing” or “no offgassing,” and other related key phrases.

You won’t be able to keep out all chemicals, but you may be able to reduce the VOCs in your home by making environmentally friendly choices whenever possible. More than ever there are companies devoted to making safer products for your home. By being VOC-conscious you’ll also reduce the amount of hazardous waste being dumped into landfills when the time comes to dispose of your less hazardous belongings. As an unrelated but added bonus the time it takes to research products may prevent unnecessary purchases that would just add clutter to your home and put a hole in your pocketbook. Being toxin conscious thus has a myriad of positive effects!

Being a smart and toxin-aware shopper will help you clear the air in your home. You can make the world a little safer for your family and community.

Useful Resources

CHEC http://www.checnet.org/

Indoor Air Pollution Fact Sheet* http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=117535

*Presently includes contact info. to obtain a free pamphlet containing more household products and their associated risks.

VOCs info. from the EPA http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html

Submitted by:

Rachel Lower

Rachel Lower is a freelance writer and web designer, and Editor-in-Chief of Christian-Mommies.com. Visit her at http://www.rachellauer.com/.

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