According to TheNest.com some of the things you love most about your home could be making you sick over time. Read on to get the low-down on paint, carpeting, wood flooring and more.
Beware: Two things: lead and toxins. If your house was built before 1978, your walls could be full of lead — paint, that is. Chipping or peeling paint can be ingested by infants and children, which may lead to serious health problems. Also, paints and finishes release low-level toxic emissions into the air, even years after you applied it. These toxic emissions are called VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. They’re so toxic you can smell them. If you’ve ever painted a room, you know what they smell like.
Take Care: Lead in paint was banned in 1978 and is no longer sold. If you’re worried about lead, have your home tested and then seal any traces of lead paint with a fresh coat of nonlead paint. Until recently, VOCs were essential to the performance of the paint. Now, low- and no-VOC paints are available from mainstream and eco-friendly companies nationwide. For cost-effective, low-VOC wall color, try a shade from Benjamin Moore’s Eco Spec® and Aura® paint lines.
Beware: Chemicals in your carpets. Carpets and carpet cushions can contain VOCs and emit formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas. According to the EPA, formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; and severe allergic reactions.
Take Care: Look for carpets made from natural fibers with little or no chemical treatment. Shaw Floors sells a variety of eco-friendly colors and styles for both wall-to-wall and area carpeting. Also, purchase carpets with natural-fiber backing that’s attached with less-toxic adhesives.
Beware: Who knew even wood was toxic? Well, it’s not the wood; it’s the stain and finish. VOCs (here we go again) from solvents, such as mineral spirits and petroleum distillates, can cause allergic reactions, headaches, and nausea.
Take Care: Why cover a beautiful wood floor with toxic chemicals? Look for a low-VOC finish, available at most home improvement stores. If you’re in the market for new flooring, consider bamboo. It costs less and is better for the environment compared to traditional wood flooring.
Beware: Bugs and toxic chemicals. A typical-used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million bed mites inside, feeding on your dead skin cells and causing allergic reactions in some people. Many mattresses also contain flame-retardant chemicals known as PBDEs, which have accumulated in high levels in American blood and breast milk.
Take Care: Dust mites hate hot water! By covering and protecting your mattress and washing all comforters, sheets, and pillows in hot water every week, you’ll get rid of those unwelcome visitors. Also, consider replacing your mattress with an organic cotton model or an affordable one from IKEA — they contain alternative flame-retardants that haven’t raised any significant consumer health or environmental concerns.
Detox Your Home
10 easy things you can do today for pennies or less
- Clean your fabrics, drapes, and rugs to eliminate dust, molds, and pollens.
- Open a window. Circulating air in the home ensures good ventilation.
- Choose natural cleaning products to reduce toxins in the home.
- Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove dust mites, dust, and dirt from your floors and carpets.
- Keep your house clean and remove any piles of clutter that are collecting dust.
- Go green with plants. They improve air quality by adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.
- Replace or cover the plywood and MDF. Glues in cheaper woods can contain volatile toxins.
- Make your house a smoke-free home. Who needs to breathe in toxic fumes?
- Run computers in a well-ventilated area and shut them off when not in use. They release gaseous pollutants into the air the longer they run.
- Think before you buy. Make a healthy home a priority every day.
By Margaret O’Malley