You already know about the dangerous chemicals that you can bring in your home in the form of cleaners, air fresheners, candles and more. If not, you can learn about that here.
BUT! Did you know that your house itself can be extremely harmful to your health? Most building materials contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), which wreak havoc on our insides as the materials "off-gas" these chemicals for up to a decade! VOC's can cause nose, throat, or lung irritation, and can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. I know this first hand. My health has forever been changed (and not for the better) after moving into a home full of toxic, new construction. You can find out more about that here, if you are interested.
If you live in a newer home, or have remodeled, you are constantly breathing in these dangerous chemicals. There are healthier ways to remodel or to resolve the chemical off-gassing. So, I'm here to help and give real life solutions that I used in my own home.
Let's Break It Down.
1. Carpet. It can take carpet up to 10 years to completely off-gas. Not only the carpet you step on, your babies crawl on (think how close their little faces are to those chemicals!), but also the carpet padding and the carpet adhesive are full of formaldyhyde, toluene, benzene, xylene and styrene.
Solution: Replace the carpet with hard wood (do not let them varnish it inside your house), or tile, NOT pressed wood. Or consider trying the Safe Coat Carpet Sealing System if you cannot replace the flooring. I have used the Safe Coat Carpet Sealing System before. It does work, but it isn't a dramatic improvement. However, if you do not have the option to replace carpet, this might be a great solution for you.
2. DryWall. Drywall has its own problems. It has a very unique odor, and is often chemically treated to resist mold growth with harmful chemicals. It also off-gasses acetaldehyde and sulphurous gas.
Solution: Seal any drywall with the Safe Coat Non-Toxic Sealants that is exposed - Especially in your basement.
3. Pressed Wood. Those beautiful cabinets in your new apartment? Yep, those are pressed wood. Pressed wood is made by taking wood or other substances like cardboard to create a single sheet of a material that looks like wood but is held together with chemicals. It's like the home version of a McDonald's chicken nugget. Guess what, these also off-gas VOC's.
Solution: Seal these babies. If these are your floors - you may also want to consider replacing them. The beams that make up your basement ceiling are often made of pressed wood, as well.
4. Sealants and Varnish. Your floors, the cabinets, the counter tops all have some sort of glue, seal or varnish holding them together or giving them the finish you see.
Solution: Choose non-toxic, no VOC versions, if you have the option. Again, Safe Coat has a lot of these products.
5. Paint. Some Paints Off Gas for 7 years!
Solution: Paint over the paint with a new paint that will seal in those chemicals. I like Sherwin Wiliams No VOC Per Mar line.
6. Air Ducts. If you've ever had your air ducts cleaned chances are you were given before and after pictures. They were totally gross, right? Dust, pollen and yes, even garbage can be housed in the ducts. Combine that with a mold ridden heating & cooling system- this can spell disaster.
Before we move on from chemicals, it is important to consider purchasing one or more air purifiers that will help to remove the toxic gasses from your home. I like Austin, Foust Co., IQ Air, and Air Pura brands.
7. Mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are biotoxins that molds produce. Biotxoins are dangerous toxins created by living things. Let me guess, you've assumed that since you can't see any mold in your home that you don't have any. Mold can be invisible. Also, simply "killing" the mold isn't good enough. Even dead mold can produce mycotoxins.
You can help to prevent mold growth by always keeping your home's temperature and humidity controlled. Run your air in the summer and use a de-humidifier. Clean up any leaks IMMEDIATELY. Mold can grow in less than 24 hours on a damp surface.
Let in light! Open those windows! Mold loves a dark room. If you suspect you have a mold issue, hire a reputable air inspector and remediator. Mold must be removed very properly to ensure it is not spread throughout the rest of your home. If you have mold for sure and plan to move due to it, please read Mold Warriors to help you determine which items you own are safe to be cleaned and can be brought into a fresh environment without contaminating your new home with mycotixins. Those buggers will live on anything porous- they love paper products like books.
To learn more about mold and mold illness, click here.
For any building or remodeling needs, I suggest checking out Green Building Supply and The Green Design Center. Both of these companies have painstakingly combing through which products are hype and which are truly safe to use. They have an amazing selection of flooring and materials. They are both willing to give helpful guidance over the phone, too.
This post is not sponsored by Safe Coat. Their unique, safe home products (especially formulated for the chemically sensitive person) have helped me immensely. Best of luck on your healthy, home journey! Feel free to contact me at any time if this is something you are struggling with.