The extreme weather patterns as of late means that most of us are keeping our homes closed up for much of the year. In most parts of Canada temperatures are at times close to 30 degrees in the summer, yet winter’s arctic weather systems bring extremely cold conditions – bringing a whole new meaning to “battening down the hatches.” This however is cause for concern, as you may find yourself sealing toxins within your home and in with your family.
Below are some tips for discovering if there are toxins in your home and how to eliminate them if found.
Finding Toxins in Your Home
Both solid and liquid matter can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they’re are some of the most common toxins found in homes. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests levels may be 10 times higher indoors than out.
VOCs are discharged by a disturbing number of common household products, materials and furnishings. Organic solvents found in everything from paints and lacquers to cleaning supplies, pesticides and adhesives can release organic compounds both in use and in storage.
The way most people discover the presence of VOCs in their homes is by noticing adverse health effects. Headaches, nausea, and eye, nose and throat irritation are all common symptoms, as are allergic skin reactions, fatigue and dizziness.
Eliminating Toxins From Your Home
There are several measures that can reduce exposure:
- Read product labels and increase ventilation when using any potentially hazardous product.
- Store opened containers, such as paint cans, outside the home.
- Throw out partially-used containers if the contents are likely to remain unused. (Follow directions for safe disposal.)
- Buy limited quantities of products you only use occasionally, such as gasoline for lawn mowers and kerosene for space heaters.
- If you must smoke, don’t smoke indoors. Burning tobacco emits benzene, a known human carcinogen.
Not all VOCs promote adverse health effects, but many do. Analysis of air samples and eliminating toxins aren’t jobs for most homeowners, so professional help is needed to determine whether levels of VOCs are potentially harmful.