For those with food allergies and sensitivities, taking a moment to think about what is being put into your body doesn’t require a second thought. Most of us think about everything we eat on a daily basis.
A few months ago, I read The Healthy Home Book. It was a completely eye-opening experience that made me realize that, although I avoid certain unhealthy foods and skin/hair care products, there are still a lot of things in my home contaminating me in ways I never imagined. Things that could produce long term negative effects on my life.
For instance, if you’ve ever painted a wall in your home, you obviously know there are chemicals involved, and I’m sure you took proper precautions to keep your home as well ventilated as possible when painting. Perhaps you opened the windows in your home for a few days until the chemical smell disappeared.
But did you know that paints can emit harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds, aka emitted gasses) for up to 2 years after painting that room?! The scary thing is, if you painted your child’s nursery before they were born, you could be putting your child at risk of inhaling harmful chemicals when their brains are at the most important developmental stage of their life!
And it’s not just paint that emits VOCs. Harmful chemicals are being released every single day from your flooring, adhesives, and finishing on furniture, counter-tops, your mattress, and more.
In the winter, it’s even more important we pay attention to the items we’re bringing into our homes since our windows are closed for months and we’re trapping these fumes inside.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably reading this and looking around your home skeptically, wondering what you’re going to do, and calculating the cost to replace everything in your home to keep you and your family safe.
But you don’t need to make huge changes, and they don’t have to be expensive! I was lucky enough to speak with Amanda Zettel, principal designer of Homemade Design, and she was able to clear up some questions I had about going green in my home.
Amanda has been an interior designer for over 15 years, and when she started her career in hospitality and corporate interiors, she realized that many of her clients were very concerned with green products and were always stressing the importance of indoor air quality.
It was then that she realized many of the ideas the corporate world were very aware of needed to be brought into our homes, especially since we spend so much time there! Homemade Design helps homeowners affordably “green” their homes and live a healthier life.
The biggest concern I had when I spoke with Amanda was, “Where do I even begin when it comes to going green in my home?” Luckily, she told me that although there are a lot of VOCs circulating in our homes, there are certain items that are more volatile than others and can be easily replaced at low cost when you’re ready.
Pay much attention to any liquid chemicals such as paint, varnishes, glues, and more. Below is a list of the top 5 items that release the most VOCs:
1. Paint – use a low or zeroVOC paint, especially for children’s rooms
2. Polyurethane coating on hardwood floors – a wax finish is safer
3. Drywall, plywood, or any type of molding – the binders in these items are formaldehyde based
4. Bamboo flooring – although the flooring is eco-friendly, many of the glues and binders are not
5. Carpeting – the glue and actual carpet fibers used in carpeting emit harmful VOCs and carpets trap dust, debris, pet hair, and more
If you live in an older home or apartment, you’re probably safe from VOCs because they dissipate after 2 years, but be aware your home may contain dangers such as lead paint, asbestos, and mold.
Since many of the chemicals used in the home have been modified and developed within the past 30 years, what may contain chemicals today did not contain the same chemicals 30 years ago. If you live in a home that hasn’t been painted, renovated, or carpeted in years, the harmful VOC levels are most likely extremely low since they have had time to dissipate.
If you’re planning on moving, Amanda says to use your nose as a test.
If you can smell that a room has been freshly painted, then you’re smelling those dangerous VOCs (a low or zero VOC paint has no smell). If a safer paint was not used, painting over the room when you move in with a zero VOC paint may help to lock in some of those harmful chemicals so you’re not breathing them in over the next few years.
**The FULL version of this article originally appeared in the March Allergy Free Monthly print newsletter. To get the article in it’s entirety along with the discount code for receiving Homemade Design’s services at our special subscriber rate AND a list of healthy cleaning solutions you should be using, this week if you sign up to receive your Allergy Free Survival Kit (shown below) I’ll send you a copy of the March newsletter absolutely FREE!
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