A lot of homes and home furnishings today contain unregulated amounts of toxins that can be detrimental for health in the long run. Some of the more common health problems caused by these toxins include neurological disorders, immune system disorders, multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue syndrome, hormonal imbalances and several allergies. In most cases, these toxins would not start showing up in the body until much later, thereby hindering the treatment process.
While consumers would not have the expertise to monitor materials and products for these toxins, they can follow a few simple steps to reduce exposure to these toxins inside their homes. Accordingly, here are three of the most common toxins usually found in households, and ways in which one can reduce exposure to the same at home.
VOCs aka Volatile Organic Compounds
These chemicals vaporize easily, thus increasing the number of gas pollutants inside the home. Studies reveal that the common products used in households, including interior paints, home furnishings, plywood, new plastics, deodorants, varnishes, cleaning fluids, moth repellants, cosmetics and air fresheners, etc. can collectively contain over 400 VOCs, with carpets contributing to at least 200 of them.
Prolonged exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, visual disorders, dizziness, respiratory tract irritation and memory impairment. Chronic exposure would cause serious issues like nervous system damage, liver/kidney damage, asthma and cancer.
The best way to minimize exposure to VOCs would be to avoid products that contain high VOC content and opt for alternatives that have ‘low VOC’ or ‘Zero VOC’ content. Opt for hardboard and solid wood instead of pressed wood. Unwrap new furniture and leave it out in the open for a day to let it off-gas. Open the doors and windows to let some fresh air in and reduce the concentration of VOCs when painting or installing new furnishings. Keep temperature cool and humidity low to reduce the concentration of the VOCs.
Several pesticides found in common household products are said to be carcinogenic, and can have distressing effects on the body. Products like food, pest control products and lawn treatment chemicals contain many pesticides these days. Increased exposure to these pesticides can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, kidney damage, miscarriage, Parkinson’s, nerve damage and birth defects.
Enforce a “no shoes” policy that would prevent pesticides from entering the house from the lawn. Opt for fresh, organic produce or grow them in the backyard. Opt for foods that contain fewer amounts of pesticides. Refrain from buying chemical based pest control products and opt for natural alternatives instead.
The surrounding environment we live in today can expose us to several heavy metals like aluminum, lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic. They are usually found in seafoods, drinking water supplies, pesticides, vaccines, antiperspirants, dental amalgams, building materials, lead paints and chlorine plants, etc. These metals would tend to collect in the soft tissues in the body and pose several health related risks, including neurological disorders, cancer, foggy head, nausea, heart palpitations, Alzheimer’s and damage to blood vessels.
In order to avoid exposure to heavy metals, it is considered wise to opt for cold water for cooking and drinking purposes. Limit consumption of fishes like tilefish, king mackerel, orange roughy, marlin, tuna, shark and swordfish that contain high levels of mercury. Do not buy products with PFC label, or treated wood.
Exposure to indoor toxins can have detrimental effects on one’s health in the long run. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid exposure to these toxins as much as possible. These tips would help avoid exposure to the most common toxins found in households.