Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

Leading Sources of Pollution in Your Home That Can Affect You, Your Child or Pet

April 17th, 2017 8:43 PM by Dan Howard

Craft Supplies and Dark Colored Plastics and Toys  
Even the products labeled “nontoxic” can contain solvents that are dangerous when inhaled.  Many glues, paints, markers and other craft supplies contain solvents that can be dangerous particularly to children.  Many imported products such as jewelry kits, makeup, plastic parts that can be chewed and paints contain lead which can do serious damage to children’s health.  When the author purchased a “Thomas the Tank” wooden train set (an expensive gift) the wooden pieces that my grandson was likely to put in his mouth at that age tested positive for lead. Dust from an artificial Christmas tree is another example of high lead content when tested by this professional.

Common Household Chemicals
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals released by many common products that you use in your home. Cleaners containing Pinene as the cleaner would be one example. Cleaning chemicals that contain ammonia or chlorine can also be a problem.   These can cause headaches, nausea, sore throats or runny eyes. Babies are often most at risk as these chemicals are usually more concentrated near the ground.

Formaldehyde and Furniture, Cabinets and Other Construction Products
Cabinets, furnishings, flooring products, construction components, draperies and many other examples can contain formaldehyde. This is one of the simplest organic chemicals and off gasses as the solvent used in production and as a byproduct of more complex chemicals breaking down. It is an irritant that children are especially a risk from serious health problems due to exposure.   

New Carpet
We all know about “new carpet smell”. Padding and adhesives can give off harmful gasses. One solution is the purchase of low VOC carpet and padding. Another solution is to have the carpet rolled out in another well-ventilated location for several weeks before installation. Install the carpet at a time of year that windows can be kept open to air out the carpet and pad.

Paint, Paint Thinners and Strippers
Use only low VOC paints and paint at time that windows can be left open.  Do not store solvents in the home, These can off-gas from sealed cans.

Yard Chemicals and Gas Cans
Pesticides, fertilizers, gasoline and other yard chemicals can off gas through the containers. Even when stored in a basement or attached garage those fumes can be pulled into the living space of the home,          

Second Hand and Third Hand Smoke
Second hand smoke refers to the exposure to smoke by the non-smoker in the home. Third hand is exposure to the many toxic chemicals from smoking that are absorbed by carpets, furniture, clothing and other objects that children and other people can absorb as they come in contact with these materials. As with so many exposures, children are most at risk from this hazard 

Improperly Installed or Operating Gas Appliances
Let me count the ways for exposure to from problem gas appliances.  Stoves emit combustion gases. Misuse or dirty burners can be toxic. Poorly or improperly vented clothes dryers and hot water tanks can create a toxic environment.  Improper heating systems can result in combustion fumes throughout a building.

Air Fresheners
In one study, one third of people with Asthma reported that they had breathing problems when exposed to air fresheners. Google the MSDS list of chemicals in some of these common products and you will be amazed at home many chemicals are found in each.    

Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: HomeChemicals
Posted by Dan Howard on April 17th, 2017 8:43 PM

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