8 Ways to Reduce Chemicals in Your Home!
Being happy and healthy isn't just about what's on our plate. We need to be aware of everything around us. While we don't have control over all the toxins in our environment, we are able to control what's in our home. Read on to learn what toxins may be lurking in your home and what you can do about it! Remember not to get overwhelmed with changes; start with small and simple steps.
Let's get the scary part out of the way...here are some common chemicals that are found in homes:
VOC's are volatile organic compounds. Don't let the word 'organic' fool you! VOC's are chemicals in many common items found in households and these items emit the VOC's as a gas. Paints used on the outside and inside of buildings and houses frequently contain VOC's and the paint is constantly emitting these chemicals even long after it's dried. Per the EPA, "concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors".
VOCs are also found in paint strippers, dry cleaned clothes, adhesives, cleaning agents, cosmetics, air fresheners and more. VOC's are known to cause many health issues that range from mild throat irritation to cancer.
Benzene is a known human carcinogen (carcinogens are known to cause cancer) that can be found in cigarette smoke, mattresses, and paint.
TCE (trichloroethylene) is now mainly used in the degreasers for metal parts. TCE has been used in paints, adhesives, and carpet spot removers. Health issues linked to TCE inhalation are dizziness, headache, blurred vision to name a few and more recent studies have linked TCE to some cancers. "An association was found between the occurrence of congenital heart disease in children and a drinking water supply contaminated with trichloroethylene". (1)
Formaldehyde is best known as being used as embalming fluid in funeral homes. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Formaldehyde is a gaseous chemical that is used in particle board, clothing, fungicide, mattresses, disinfectants, adhesives and more. Health issues associated with formaldehyde are asthma, rashes, respiratory tract irritation and cancer.
Don't freak out! I know I did when I first learned of all these chemicals lurking in my home. There are some very easy things you can do to decrease the amount of these chemicals in your home.
Here are 8 ways to reduce the chemicals in your home:
Let's take it back to elementary school for a second and review photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process of plants taking in light and water and absorbing carbon dioxide; then, releasing oxygen as the waste product.
Studies show that by this same process, plants are able to absorb common outdoor and indoor pollutants.
Until a few years ago, I rarely opened the windows in my house because I believed that the air outside was more polluted than the air in my house. Living in Southern California, we can see the pollution in the brown outside air! Then I started to learn that there are several chemicals in products and items we all have in our homes and it's beneficial to open windows and have house plants to get rid of the indoor pollutants.
"Indoor air can be as much as 12 times more polluted than outside air in some areas, due to compounds in paints, furnishings, clothing and building materials." (2)
The NASA Clean Air Study used Benzene, TCE and formaldehyde (the chemicals discussed in the beginning of this post) which are common chemicals found in the home. These chemicals can be found in carpet, mattresses, paint, cleaning products, dry cleaning, particle board.
The NASA Clean Air Study "showed that houseplants were able to remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in a 24 hour period". The study recommends getting "a plant for every 10 yards of floor in your house". So for a 1600 square foot house, you would need 17-18 indoor plants. Any indoor plant would be beneficial, but The NASA Clean Air Study used specific plants in their study. It showed that the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis 'Exotica'), the English Ivy (Hedera helix), the variegated wax plant (Hoya Carnosa Variegata), and the asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) were top VOC fighters.
Other plants that ranked highest were the Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), Pot mum (chrysanthemum moritolium), Bamboo palm (chamaedorea seifrizii), Warneckei (Dracaena deremensis "Warneckei"), Mass Cane (Dracaena massangeana), Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis "Janet Craig"), Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), Mother-in-laws tongue aka snake plant (Sansevieria laurentii), and Marginata (Dracaena marginata).
I don't have all of these plants and I don't have a green thumb, but I'll tell you that the snake plant is so easy to take care of!! I water it 1-2 times a week and several new leaves have come up.
Buy organic clothing and mattresses:
Don't get your clothes dry cleaned, buy organic clothing and organic mattresses. We haven't upgraded to an organic mattress yet because they are pricey. However, we did purchase an organic latex mattress topper. We figured that with the topper, our faces weren't directly on the chemical soaked mattress. Plus I have plants in all bedrooms and open the windows frequently.
Buy paint that contains fewer chemicals:
Use low VOC paint from www.ecospaints.net. Behr, Benjamin-Moore, and Sherwin Williams all have zero VOC paints also. Use cleaning items and cosmetics that are made with all natural ingredients.
(Doesn't that picture just make you want to cough? Ick!!)
Cigarette smoke contains Benzene and Formaldehyde along with about 7000 other chemicals. Smoking cigarettes delivers those chemicals directly to our lungs. People that don't smoke can be affected by the second hand smoke. The chemicals from the cigarette smoke also sticks to our clothes and skin and can affect others that way.
Buy natural cleaning products:
When we clean, the product we're using gets inhaled into our lungs and absorbed into our skin. It takes less than 30 seconds for something on our skin to start to absorb and go into our bloodstream. Also, we end up rinsing those cleaning products down the drains and into our oceans or water system. I hate to think about all the chemicals I inhaled, absorbed, and polluted our water with before I switched to natural cleaning products. My favorite brand of natural cleaning products is Babyganics. They have bathtub cleaners, multi-purpose cleaners, diapers, baby wipes, foaming hand soap, dish soap and more. Another great brand is Seventh Generation. You can always just use white vinegar as well (you get used to the smell). It disinfects and is usually pretty good at wiping out stains too.
Buy natural personal care products:
There are so many great options available now for natural makeup, lotions, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, perfume, etc. I use and love Alima Pure for my makeup. Recipes will be coming soon for DIY lotion, deodorant and toothpaste, but until then use EWG to see how safe your products are. You can download EWGs app also.
This is probably the easiest thing you can do to remove some of the chemicals from your home! Even if you just open a window open a crack, it's better than leaving them closed all of the time.
Use a Himalayan Salt Lamp:
Another very simple way to reduce chemicals is to turn on a Himalayan Salt Lamp. The Salt Lamp is a natural air purifier. They reduce the amount of toxins and allergens in the air, they're decorative, and can be used as a night light. The lamp pictured is the same lamp I have in my home and you can find it here.
What do you do to reduce the amount of chemicals in your home?
Peace, love and wellbeing!