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How Your Home Affects Your Health

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How Your Home Affects Your Health

By Robyn Griggs Lawrence, Experience Life

Potentially hazardous chemicals, in the form of building materials, furnishings and cleaning products, infiltrate nearly everyone’s homes. They’re found in upholstery, manufactured wood products such as plywood and pressboard, traditional paint, permanent-press fabrics, vinyl, sealers and adhesives. And they hang around in the air and carpets for years.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that the air in our homes has pollutant levels two to five times higher than the air outside, and sometimes even 100 times higher, depending on what furnishings, building materials and cleansers you’re using.

Synthetic or engineered home-building materials and furnishings contain chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which evaporate at normal room temperatures (the process known as off-gassing) to pollute indoor air. Some VOCs are suspected carcinogens. The carcinogenic effects of formaldehyde, for example, common in pressboard and plywood, are well established. People who are exposed to VOCs can experience a range of symptoms, from headaches and nausea to skin and respiratory irritations, memory impairment even central nervous system disorders.

Unfortunately, exposures have increased during the past 30 years. To conserve energy, homes have been sealed so tightly that air is exchanged only once every five hours or less. Today’s tight houses also harbor biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, pollen and toxic molds, which grow easily in wet basements and bathrooms and on the cardboard backing used for drywall. The combination of these toxic factors can pose particular challenges to children, pregnant women, older people and individuals with allergies or compromised immune systems.

Although the conflagration of potential health threats in today’s conventional homes may sound rather dire, the concerned homeowner can make significant improvements just by phasing out and replacing toxic items on a gradual basis. Unless a member of your household suffers from chemical sensitivities, and more immediate remodeling is critical to their well-being, you can simply begin making selective choices, starting today, that support you in creating a chemical-free home over time.

Next: Hidden Dangers and Healthy Alternatives

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

69 comments

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10:18PM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

I worry because our flat is right above a rather large launromat. Some days the smells of fabric softener make our eyes water and my partner has developed a severe cough

9:47PM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

9:23PM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

Thank you.

9:22PM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

Thank you.

7:47AM PDT on May 30, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:02AM PDT on Jul 17, 2010

thanks!

11:19AM PDT on May 5, 2010

It is important to think about using materials that can minimize the effects of poor indoor air quality. Emerald Green buildings have been built using VOC-free interior finishes and walls that minimize random air-infiltration from adjacent apartments and corridors. This article is a good example of the reasons why we took this approach.

11:18AM PDT on May 5, 2010

It is important to think about using materials that can minimize the effects of poor indoor air quality. Emerald Green buildings have been built using VOC-free interior finishes and walls that minimize random air-infiltration from adjacent apartments and corridors. This article is a good example of the reasons why we took this approach.

3:43AM PDT on May 2, 2010

Thank you for this article.

6:55AM PDT on May 1, 2010

Interesting true story.... http://moldrx4u.com/PatioTest.asp Deb Bowman always cleaned the outside of her house with bleach, but one year she tried a 4x4 section with the Thieves Household Cleaner and the rest with bleach. The next year when it was time to clean the mold off the house, There was mold in all the usual places that had been bleached the year before. BUT, the 4x4 place cleaned with the all-natural Thieves Cleaner was free of mold!!! Check it out at the link above.
Or find more info here:
http://www.secretofthieves.com/thieves-cleaner.cfm/496342

We personally use this cleaner for everything from laundry to floors to bubble bath!

Karla
berger10@q.com

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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