Have you ever walked into a room and felt a little lightheaded or had a headache? Or maybe you've noticed that certain items in your home seem to be causing allergic reactions. Well, it could be the toxins lurking in your home. You see, toxins are everywhere, from the cleaning products we use to the furniture we sit on, and they can have a serious impact on our health. But, don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. In this article, we're going to explore ways to avoid toxins in the interior and create a chemical-free home for you and your loved ones to enjoy. So, get ready to learn about the sneaky sources of toxins, how to identify them and most importantly, how to kick them to the curb!
What are the sources of toxins in our interiors?
There are a variety of items that can bring toxins into the interior of a home or building. Some common sources of indoor toxins include:
- Building materials such as paint, flooring, and insulation.These contain chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Household cleaning products, air fresheners, and personal care products. They contain harmful chemicals like chlorine, ammonia, and phthalates
- Furniture and other household items made from synthetic materials. These products release VOCs over time
- Pesticides and other chemicals used for pest control
- Mold, which can release spores and other toxins into the air
- Secondhand smoke from cigarettes or other tobacco products
- Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into buildings through cracks in the foundation or walls
It's important to be aware of these and other sources of indoor toxins and to take steps to reduce exposure, such as using non-toxic cleaning products, properly ventilating your home, and choosing building materials and furniture that are free of harmful chemicals. We will have a look at these measures next.
What are the most common toxins present in the interior?
Toxins can be found in many common household items and can have negative effects on our health. Let's discuss some of the most common toxins found in the home, and then learn how to avoid them.
This chemical is commonly found in pressed-wood products such as particleboard, plywood, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF), as well as in certain types of insulation. Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as other health problems such as cancer. To avoid formaldehyde, look for products labeled as formaldehyde-free or choose products made from solid wood. When using pressed-wood products, make sure to sand and seal them to reduce the amount of formaldehyde released into the air.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
These chemicals are found in a variety of products including paint, cleaning supplies, and air fresheners. VOCs can cause a range of health problems, including headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems. To avoid VOCs, choose low-VOC or VOC-free products, and make sure to use them in a well-ventilated area. When painting your home, make sure to use paint with low or no VOCs, and open windows and use fans to ventilate the area during and after painting. When using cleaning supplies, make sure to use them in a well-ventilated area, and consider switching to natural, non-toxic cleaning products.
This toxic metal can be found in old paint, pipes, and even in certain types of pottery. Lead can cause serious health problems, including developmental delays and behavioral problems in children, as well as high blood pressure and kidney problems in adults. To avoid lead, test your home for lead and if present, hire a professional to remove it. If you live in a home built before 1978, it is especially important to test for lead, as lead paint was commonly used in homes built before that year.
These chemicals are used in furniture, mattresses, and electronics to slow down the spread of fire. Flame retardants can cause a range of health problems, including developmental delays, thyroid problems, and cancer. To avoid flame retardants, choose furniture and mattresses made with natural materials such as cotton or wool, and avoid products that contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). When buying electronics, look for products that are free of flame retardants, and make sure to properly dispose of any electronics that contain them.
Carpeting can emit a variety of toxins, including VOCs, formaldehyde, and flame retardants. These toxins can cause health problems such as respiratory problems, headaches, and fatigue. To avoid these toxins, choose carpets made from natural materials such as wool or cotton, and make sure to choose carpeting with low or no VOC emissions. When installing carpeting, make sure to use low-VOC or VOC-free adhesives, and ventilate the area well during and after installation.
These chemicals are commonly used to kill bugs, rodents and other pests. Pesticides can cause a range of health problems, including cancer and neurological problems. To avoid pesticides, choose organic or non-toxic pest control methods, such as traps or natural predators. When using pesticides, make sure to follow the instructions carefully and use them in a well-ventilated area.
Plastics can contain a variety of toxins, including phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA). These chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the food and drinks that we consume. Phthalates and BPA can cause a range of health problems, including hormonal imbalances, birth defects, and cancer. To avoid these toxins, limit your use of plastic products, especially when it comes to food and drink storage. Avoid using plastic containers to heat food in the microwave, and avoid using plastic bottles that are worn or have scratches, as these can leach more toxins. Instead, choose glass, stainless steel, or ceramic containers for food and drink storage.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can be found in some homes. Radon can cause lung cancer and other health problems. To avoid radon, test your home for radon and if present, hire a professional to remove it. Homes with basements or crawl spaces are at a higher risk of radon exposure, so it is especially important to test these homes.
Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used in building materials before 1980. Asbestos can cause lung cancer and other health problems when it is disturbed and the fibers are released into the air. To avoid asbestos, make sure to have your home inspected for asbestos before making any renovations, and if present, hire a professional to remove it.
How can we avoid toxins in the interior?
There are several measures that can be taken to avoid toxins in the interiors. Here are a few that you can easily today:
Use non-toxic and natural materials
When selecting paint, carpeting, furniture, and other materials, opt for those that are free of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Look for certifications such as Greenguard Gold and Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which indicate that a product has been tested for harmful chemicals.
Avoid synthetic fragrances
Many cleaning and personal care products contain synthetic fragrances that can release harmful chemicals into the air. Instead, opt for natural and fragrance-free products, or use essential oils for a natural scent.
Use plants to purify the air
Plants can help to remove toxins from the air, so consider incorporating a variety of different types of plants into your spaces. Some popular options include snake plants, spider plants, and aloe vera.
Choose natural fibers
When it comes to bedding, curtains, and upholstery, natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool are better options than synthetic fibers, which can off-gas chemicals.
Forest Homes' textiles are certified 100% natural
Keep the windows open
To allow for fresh air circulation, keep the windows open as much as possible, especially when using cleaning products or painting.
Use a HEPA filter
A HEPA filter can help to remove small particles and pollutants from the air, including those that may be released by some building materials.
By taking these measures, you can create a nature-inspired space that is not only beautiful and beneficial for everyone’s well-being, but also free of harmful toxins.
In conclusion, toxins can be found in many common household items and can have negative effects on our health. To avoid these toxins, choose products that are labeled as formaldehyde-free, low-VOC or VOC-free, or made from natural materials. Additionally, test your home for lead and hire a professional to remove it if found, avoid using pesticides and plastics, and ensure proper ventilation in your home. It's important to be aware of the potential toxins in your home and take steps to eliminate them to ensure a healthy living environment for yourself and your family.