The invisible menace, toxic fumes in your home
By Johanna Sophia
(Healingtalks) Have you, in your own home or workplace, ever experienced a vague sense of fatigue, headaches, or nausea? Have you ever had repeated skin rashes, recurring sore throats, or late night insomnia? Perhaps this only happens when your immune system is down, and just maybe this is caused by chemical fumes coming out of the home and workplace materials that surround you. With more serious circumstances, as documented in some facilities, these fumes can contribute to and even directly cause cancer.
Typical off-gassing materials
Some 200 or more different chemical compounds, mostly carcinogenic, are typically found off-gassing in a home, factory or office. Many of these are hidden in the construction materials such as:
- synthetic foams such as used for insulation
- floor coverings, and
They seem to be everywhere, as if there is no way of avoiding or escaping them.
Surrounded everywhere by chemicals
As we enter the Chemical Age, in a little less than a 100 years, we have some 80,000 registered petrochemicals in our environment. They impact what we use in all our home building Overall about 250,000 chemicals have been patented and sold commercially. The battle cry of the industry is “better living through chemistry” and this has become a multi-trillion dollar incursion into our lives.
The presence of these chemicals, aggressively pushed on us by Big Chem, is all-enveloping and hard to escape. We have built toxic fortresses – made of walls, ceilings, floors, and with certain bedding, furniture and appliances, and thousands of other items constructed out of petrochemicals. Then in maintaining those fortresses we use cleaning products that are further toxic.
Unfortunately most of these chemicals are non-biodegradable and unhealthy. With them we have created a lifestyle that can be cancer causing. Nowadays we are reminded that 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will get cancer in their lifetime.
Poisons we can’t usually smell or sense
Individuals who are chemically sensitive react were the average person may be unaware. And so we casually move from our homes to our cars to our office to a supermarket to a friend’s house – not knowing we are exposed to different toxic fumes. Sometimes we do notice, as in first entering a carpet or paint store or passing the detergent section of a supermarket. At other times, we smell nothing. The chemical cloud remains hidden and invisible.
Formaldehyde, the most famous preservative
“Formaldehyde” especially hides. It sneakily makes its presence in the average home and off-gasses. Among the construction products that have formaldehyde are:
- Fiber and cabinet boards
Acute exposure to formaldehyde can lead to a persistent irritation of our throat, nose, eyes, and skin. The upper breathing tract is especially sensitive and this affects asthma sufferers. Chronic exposures in occupational settings has been studied a great deal. Symptoms include chronic runny nose, bronchitis, and obstructive lung disease. For more detail on these studies, there is an official government guideline called Formaldehyde Exposure in Homes:A Reference for State Officials to Use in Decision-making
More serious birth defects and nerve damage
Along with toxic formaldehyde, there is a whole devil’s brew of other chemical gasses that include toluene, benzene, ethyl benzene, styrene, acetone, and known carcinogens such as p-dichlorobenzene. The latter produces birth defects in rats. It causes hallucinations, nerve damage, and respiratory illness in humans. There are hundreds of similar off-gassing chemicals. The truth is we are bombarded with these invisible fumes. Several reports have shown a huge rise in birth defects in our modern society, often linked directly or indirectly to chemical pollutants (and both in the UK and China).
There is a diagnosed condition known as having “multiple chemical sensitivities” or MCS. This ‘disease’ is rapidly growing. A California Dept. of Health Services study found 16% of a test group to be chemical sensitives (and where only 7% had been officially diagnosed with MCS). If those figures hold, then there are approximately 50 million sufferers in the US alone.
In 2007, WHO (World Health Organization) recognized MCS as a diagnosed illness.
Compounded effects of permitted off-gassing
Our government has established permitted rates of off-gassing. But if your home’s ceiling, floors and walls all off-gasses, and at a permitted rate, this doesn’t take into consideration their combined effect, plus that of the home’s contents.
As many as 120 neurotoxic chemicals may be found in just a typical carpet sample. This toxic soup, compounded with everything else, can make the so-called “permitted” levels carcinogenic and deadly.
Turning to healthy green construction and products instead
We call a lot of energy-saving products “green” these days, but how green are they really if they are made of out-gassing materials that end up in our homes and landfills. Instead let’s consider products that are”healthy green.”
Hap Partridge, a green energy installer, writes that “Healthy Green” means mimicking the materials and methods of the natural world: converting sunlight into usable heat and energy, bio-compatible and bio-degradable materials, non-toxic, renewable, synergistic and stunningly efficient natural materials.”
Healthy green examples
In our homes, we can use the following:
- Natural wall and ceiling coverings
- Non-toxic paints
- Clay plaster
- Natural wood paneling (with no glues or fillers)
- Natural floor coverings
- Cork – a natural material, soft underfoot, absorbs sound and pressure
- Sisal, Sea Grass, or Coir
- Hardwood, especially recycled, reused or sustainably harvested wood floor or, Bamboo flooring instead of regular hardwood floor.
- Rugs made of wool, cotton, hemp, grasses and other natural materials.
- Stone, terracota and ceramic tiles.Windows and window dressings
- Windows, window dressings and doors
- Wood-frame and metal windows and doors, bamboo blinds, and cotton curtains
- Countertops and furniture
- Stone and ceramic tile counter tops, natural wood furniture, finished with non-toxic varnishes
- Insulation and construction materials
- Cellulose fiber, straw bale and cob construction materials
In detoxifying your home or workplace, be sure to use organic cleansers, water and air filters, and beware of any electro-magnetic (especially in the bedroom)and radon pollution – both of which can be tested for.
- Why go organic – ten top reasons
- Sustainable building solutions
- Cultivate health, wealth and happiness with sustainable micro-gardens
- Permaculture Movement Grows
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