No one can deny that industrialization has created quite a few conveniences. But with these modern-day conveniences have come moden-day health hazards—the worst being those that are potentially toxic to ourselves and our children. What common household items can be putting you at risk?
1) Off-Gassing– This word was first used in 1966 to describe the release of gaseous chemicals from a solid. The top 10 sources of off-gassing in order of concern include common household items/products: mattresses, stains/varnishes, carpet, insulation, flooring materials (vinyl, glues, finishes, adhesives), countertops, cabinets, particle board, paint strippers, and cleaning supplies. The EPA defines “off-gassing” as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. The typical symptoms of exposure to VOCs include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, and/or worsening of asthma symptoms. For those who have long term exposure to VOCs, there is an increased risk of cancer, liver and kidney damage or central nervous system damage.
2) Mattresses– Petroleum based chemicals are used in some foam mattresses, and synthetic fabrics are treated with chemical fire retardants. Mattresses and bedding made using these particular chemicals can potentially cause reactions in people with chemical sensitivities. The majority of these chemicals have not been tested on young children and have rarely been tested for long term exposure.
3) “Green” Light Bulbs– Highly efficient fluorescent light bulbs are supposedly environmentally friendly, but this is one of those times that “going green” comes with a caution. These bulbs contain mercury and are not supposed to be disposed of in the garbage, but instead at an approved recycling facility or a toxic waste dump. The major concern is when these bulbs break, releasing a toxic gas. In this case, it is suggested that everyone should leave the house, and that the room should be ventilated for at lease one hour. Don’t touch the pieces of glass while cleaning up, seal them in a plastic bag, and take them to a toxic waste dump.
In addition to the above considerations, I recommend purchasing organic and holistic cleaners, and using caution when purchasing new products.