Most shoppers don’t worry about the toxic effect of their purchases when they’re shopping. If it’s sitting on a shelf, it seems reasonable to assume it’s safe for your family. Unfortunately, many items can release hazardous chemicals and pollutants into your Pottstown, Pennsylvania, home without your knowledge. Find out whether you’re bringing toxic decorating, crafting, or laundry products home.
Manufacturers often treat new rugs or carpeting with hazardous chemicals that will off-gas into the air long after they’re installed in your home. The most common chemical found in carpets is formaldehyde. The effects of inhaling this formaldehyde range from nose and throat irritation to lung damage. Some studies have even linked the chemical to cancer.
To avoid off-gassing, choose carpeting that’s no or low-VOC and made with nontoxic chemicals. Better yet, avoid carpeting altogether and opt for hard flooring. Even the safest carpets still harbor dust, dander, and bacteria that can cause asthma and allergy flare-ups. If you’re concerned about carpeting that’s already installed in your home, clean with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
The pleasant scent candles emit typically comes from an artificial chemical source. These synthetic fragrances can irritate the skin, nose, and throat when released into the air. Paraffin candles also release the known carcinogens benzene and toluene when burned.
All candles release soot and carbon particles, so the absolute best option is to stay away from candles and use a reed diffuser with essential oils to scent the home instead. If you’re yearning for that gentle glow, opt for a beeswax candle with natural dyes and perfumes. Try an air purifier to reduce the impact of any irritants released into the air.
Scented Laundry Products
As comforting as it is, that fresh laundry smell isn’t as safe as you might think. Most dryer sheets use quaternary ammonium salt to give your clothes that soft, static-free coating. However, this salt is linked to asthma, and you’ll end up wearing it all day if you use dryer sheets. Many types of dryer sheets and laundry detergent contain carcinogenic benzene and acetaldehyde, as well.
The chemicals used to scent these products might act as additional irritants. The fragrances are considered trade secrets, so these ingredients won’t appear on the packaging. Manufacturers are only required to list ingredients that are known hazards or active disinfectants.
Choose all-natural laundry products when possible. It’s best to get rid of dryer sheets entirely, but if you’re unhappy with this approach, you can find some fragrance-free products that use plant-derived softening agents.
Lead-based paint has left the shelves, but that doesn’t mean your remaining options are completely safe. Most conventional paint products contain VOCs that will off-gas even after the paint has dried. To minimize paint fumes’ effects, always work in a well-ventilated area and keep your family out of the home while paint is wet and at its most irritating. The best option is to buy a low-VOC or no-VOC paint that’s free of these chemicals.
Glue and Other Adhesives
Glues and adhesives often contain acetone and methyl ethyl ketone that can damage the nervous system. The n-hexane in rubber cement is a known neurotoxin. Many adhesive products emit formaldehyde. The best pick for your craft projects is a formaldehyde-free glue that’s water-based. If this doesn’t do the job, work in an area that’s well-ventilated, and wear a mask while you work to avoid inhaling the fumes.
Though it’s an unlikely culprit, new furniture often brings airborne dangers into the home. Pressed-wood products are usually manufactured with a glue that contains formaldehyde that will off-gas into the air. The effects are worst when these products are new, but the off-gassing can continue over long periods. Hardwood furniture is the best option. Lacking this, look for a green alternative that’s VOC-free. Schedule a duct cleaning, or install an air purifier in your home to offset the effects of any items already in the house.
If you’re looking for more solutions that will improve your indoor air quality, contact New Age Air at 610-482-4498. We’ll help you create a clean, healthy home.
Image provided by Shutterstock