Air pollution from home products leading to premature deaths, yes there is a connection !
Premature deaths are often avoidable especially if they come from your home environment.
We’ve been advocates of clean air for years, as the data accumulates and our environment changes it’s more important than ever. From fires becoming common place to the chemical issues our kids face seemingly increasing daily we are surrounded by an increasing and diverse set of air contaminants. Unfortunately many are our own doing and the good news….we can change the levels in our homes.
To understand the concerns, I want to introduce a few terms. No deep chemistry here so hang on and let’s follow the trail.
For this article let’s change gears and get inside your home and take a look at some household products that add to your pollution load. And before we start, how about a new term volatile chemical products (VCPs) ? These are the home products that create primary and secondary pollution in your home. Alone they can be a health issue and when they combined with other air borne particles and chemicals become a new set of pollutants, that are sometimes worse than the original problem.
In the July 2021 publication, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics scientists took a look at cleaning supplies, pesticides adhesives, personal care products, paints, and more. To understand their findings let’s acquaint you with a second new term, anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols (ASOAs).
What the… it means that the odors of volatile organic chemicals the nasty stuff out-gassing is from our doings, not nature. Think your new car smell to gasoline or some cleaners that clump together and now form the ASOA’s. Now you’re probably asking why do we care…. the article suggests that these nasties are responsible for up to 900,000 premature deaths every year.
Let’s keep perspective we know that as we add to our home’s contents there’s a chemical price to pay. I want you to think of your bedroom alone. Note the materials shedding from the sheets to the carpet from the finishes on the bedroom furniture to personal care items and then add this all to the air. You land up with a large impact on the inhaled pollution burden, particle and ASOAs. Many of the products in our rooms off gas from their treatments, from stain resistance to paints on the wall and more.
In the U.S., the creation of these regulations has been slow and at times demands consumer deaths to make a difference. A great example would be the recent removal of methylene chloride a common paint stripper that cased 85 deaths, which was sold in your typical hardware stores till the ban by the EPA in November 2019. On a quick change of subjects, are you curious how your store rates when it comes to their positions on poisons ? See this site at : The Retailer Report Card
Not to make matters worse but some of these chemicals find themselves leaking outdoors as your home is not although insulated is still very much open to the outside environment. So you and your neighbors are being exposed. The higher the density of your neighborhood the higher the amount of these ASOA’s. And not surprisingly the intensity of urban pollution from these and other toxins is higher than your rural settings. Keep in mind that there is still a move toward the urban centers even though COVID may have moderated this trend.
As we consider our home environment think of the aerosols that you use. Obviously a pressurized hair spray, oven cleaner, shaving cream or a can of spray paint should come to mind. For the older crowd you might recall that in years past the propellant was an ozone depleting product known , with the long name chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or commonly called freon. After long debates it was banned from use by most countries. This process took from the seminal 1974 paper to 2015 to come into play. But the substitutes are a number of other problematic mixtures volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s) . Here’s the problem, they may not be as environmentally problematic but they absolutely affect your family’s health. The current mix of the propellants can consist of hydrocarbon aerosol propellant (HAP) blends made with propane, n-butane, and iso-butane and more. And you though these chemicals were there only for lighters…..
As you can tell there’s lots more to this situation and as I said previously, we can make an individual difference in our home environments, easily ! Stay tuned for lots more information as we will have home testing units and more available shortly.
First and most importantly, don’t add to the overall load of pollution in your home.
- Ditch the VOC containing paint….there are a number of excellent options with NO VOC’s
- Cleaners with warning labels should be a great hint, if it says to use in a ventilated area give it the boot
- Paint removers/ reducers and a host of these agents are pure toxic waste
- Read and check the sealants used in your home: from furniture and shoe polish to the touch up stains and caulks
- Still using acetone to remove your nail poish or how about the perfumes and deodorants, check the labels
- Gas Appliances are they WELL vented all the time ?
- Candles and incense add to the particulate load
- What type of adhesive are you using, think white glue vs the smelly stuff
- Get some specific plants to decrease some of the poisons
- Ditch aerosols and opt for airless pumps
- Do you have a great air filter for the home ?