We spend 90% of our lives indoors. That is almost 22 hours out of 24 on a daily basis. Doesn’t sound so good, does it? Of course, we should try to get ourselves outdoors as much as possible, but we also owe it to ourselves to make the time spent indoors healthier. Did you know that the air inside could be more toxic than the air outside?
The main reason for that is the off-gassing of pollutants from all the toxic materials in our homes: cleaning products, foam furniture, plastics, etc. As we spend more and more time indoors, we increase our exposure to VOCs. VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) are substances formed from a combination of chemical elements that easily turn into vapors or gases. VOCs are released from many products found in our homes – not only solvents, paints, and adhesives but also furniture, dyes, foam, and all kinds of synthetics.
Exposure to VOCs can lead to both short and long-term health impairments. The American Lung Association, a leading authority on lung health in the US, reports that breathing VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, can cause difficulty breathing and nausea, and can damage the central nervous system, and other organs.
If you are in a process of renovating your home or moving to a new one, here are our tips on how to make it healthier and VOCs-free.
Tip #1: Bet on natural materials for the bedroom
We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. That pretty much makes the bedroom the most important room in our homes, and the bed – our most sacred place.
Avoid mattresses, pillows, headboards cushions, and sofas filled with foam, polyurethane foam, or memory foam. These are petroleum-based products and break down over the years at room temperature. They off-gas numerous toxic chemicals into the air. Instead, bet on mattresses and bedding that are created using natural filling materials like wool and natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, or silk.
By choosing all-natural and biodegradable mattresses and bedding you’ll improve not only your health but the health of the planet as well since natural materials are sustainable and completely biodegradable.
Tip #2: Go with natural wood instead of chipboard, MDF, plywood, or engineered wood for furniture and flooring
The reason is that they are all made of fine wood particles glued together with a lot of glue. Most adhesives contain Formaldehyde, and this is one of the compounds that is emitted for years, reducing the air quality at home. In countless studies and research, Formaldehyde has been associated with the so-called Sick Building Syndrome.
The healthiest alternative would be to bet on solid, natural wood panels, treated with only natural oils. Solid pine flooring would be a great budget-friendly option for safe flooring.
Tip #3: Avoid standard latex and paints
Most of the standard latex paints off-gas an enormous amount of VOCs. You can still look for zero or low content of toxic elements paints, but the healthiest option would be to go for natural and free of any dyes lime plaster.
Lime plasters are incombustible, breathable, and maintain a low pH or alkalinity that actively suppresses mold growth and promotes healthy indoor air quality. Lime is a completely natural material and has been used since ancient times in the interior and in the painting of walls.
Tip #4: Avoid synthetic carpets
Most of the synthetic carpets on the market are a great source of VOCs for months and even years despite the regulations applied recently.
In 2009 a scientific case research was conducted and published in the Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine. The author of the research, Dr. Rosalind Anderson tested and analyzed with mice a sample of 125 carpets. The breathing rate of the mice significantly decreased when they were exposed to the synthetic samples.
Pure wool carpets, on the other hand, are completely safe and even absorb some of the VOCs of your other household products.
As we spent more time indoors it is crucially important to make our homes and offices safe and healthy. With the above easy tips for healthy home, you will surely be one step closer to a healthier lifestyle as well.