The usage of chemicals in household items has increased exponentially over recent decades. Air fresheners, sealants, bug sprays, glue and flame-retardants for furniture are some common examples. Such chemicals leak out from the bottles and evaporate into the air we breathe. These chemicals can then cause serious health issues.
Such airborne chemicals are also known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs. This is because they are volatile and can easily evaporate into the air. Bottled chemicals are not the only sources. We also bring lots of toxic stuff through the shoes we wear. These toxins stick to the floor and are stirred up in the air when we walk.
Shocking Facts about VOCs
- A general conjuncture is that staying outside the home in a polluted metropolitan city like New York or Los Angeles will be more toxic. However, studies show that the air we breathe inside our home today is more toxic than what we breathe outside.
- VOCs can exasperate asthma and allergies. They can also cause flu, headache, throat irritation, eye and nose burning, dizziness and fatigue. They can affect one’s metabolism and hormone balance. Kidney, lungs and the heart may be damaged, and the risk of development of carcinogenic cells is increased. Although the human body is immune to the effects of VOCs, exposure over long periods can cause serious issues such as failure of the liver to purify the blood.
- VOCs like PBDE, phthalate or formaldehyde can cause sickness, irritation and nausea. Flame retardants in furniture include these chemicals. In one test, such chemicals were also found in human breast milk.
- Mankind has developed millions of chemicals during previous decades, and at least 1 million are in common home use. However, only few have been tested for their effects on the human body.
How to Purify the Air You Breathe?
Following are some ways in which one can significantly mitigate the risks from VOCs:
- Natural Air Purifiers (Plants) The best thing to do is to use natural air purifiers. Plants like Spider Plant, Gerbera Daisy, Boston Fern, Ficus, English Ivy, Rubber Plant, Philodendron and Aloe Vera are good purifiers of air.
Manmade Air Purifiers
The use of air purifiers is increasing these days. US Atomic Energy Commission has designed a high tech High Efficiency Particle Arresting (HEPA) air purifier. These air purifiers trap toxic micro particles and take them to the ground. Many believe that these are the most effective air purifiers.
- Avoid Buying Fixtures with Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals – If you can find it, furniture with non-toxic flame-retardants is the best. Otherwise, look for one whose flame-retardant layer is properly covered with an over layer to restrict dispersion of toxic dust into the air.
- Buy a Good Quality Vacuum – Normal vacuums are not good in sucking or killing bacteria and toxins on your carpet. Instead, buying a good-quality HEPA steam vacuum can clean your carpet in a much better way.
- Don’t Take Shoes in the Home - Make it a habit to remove your shoes at the front door. Toxins and bacteria you take in your home this way can be extremely dangerous for your toddlers and pets. If you can’t remove them at the door at least use a good doormat to clean your shoes well, before entering your home.