If you've only recently come across the concept of the "non-toxic home", you may ask yourself why should I bother going non-toxic, is this really something important to my life? Trusty Canary aims to explain the main reasons for making your home non-toxic and tells you how to go about it.
Improve the indoor environment
Whilst most of us are aware of the dangers of pollution outside, you may be surprised to find that indoor air quality is often worse. In fact, in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency found concentrations of harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) to be two to five times greater in indoor air compared to outdoor.
As it turns out, nearly all Americans have trace levels of flame retardant chemicals in their body and we can expect this to also be the case for most of us in the UK. In the worst cases, a home may be so affected by these harmful substances that the house itself suffers from Sick Building Syndrome, causing ill-health to all its inhabitants.
Worryingly, these harmful substances are found in all parts of the home, often where you would least expect them, including:
- Sofas and soft furnishings
- Paints and wall-coverings
- Carpets and other flooring
- Building materials
- Consumer appliances including food preparation equipment
- Household & hygiene products
- Food and drink
Avoid the negative health effects
Many of the substances and chemicals found in the home have been found to have a plethora of negative health effects, ranging from worsened allergy symptoms, to cancer and developmental effects in children. Studies on VOCs and the harmful flame-retardants often used in furniture and household appliances have highlighted potential links to each of the following1:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation including asthma
- Headaches, nausea and dizziness
- Damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system
- Allergic skin reactions including eczema2
- Cognitive issues including reduced IQ in children3
- Decreased fertility5
- Cancers including Thyroid6, Leukaemia and Lymphoma7
In addition, some household items, particularly carpets, can be detrimental to hayfever sufferers by allowing the accumulation of pollen and / or dust.
Let your Trusty Canary help you!
These dangerous chemicals can be absorbed into our bodies through breathing, skin contact, eating and drinking - Trusty Canary is here to investigate how the sources of these harmful substances can be avoided by finding effective alternatives and explaining simple measures like opening your windows and growing more house plants.
We will be making regular updates, investigating topics such as where to find vegan and organic mattresses, what sort of flooring to buy and how you can improve your home's air quality with air-filtering plants.
At the same time, we'd love to build an inclusive community for people striving to make a non-toxic home, so please leave any questions, comments or suggestions you have in the comments section below!
Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality. Environmental Protection Agency↩
Fire-Retardant Clothing–Related Dermatitis. McConnell et al (2012)↩
Prenatal Exposure to PBDEs and Neurodevelopment. Herbstman et al (2010), Prenatal Exposure to Organohalogens, Including Brominated Flame Retardants, Influences Motor, Cognitive, and Behavioral Performance at School Age. Roze et al (2009)↩
Environmental Chemical Exposures and Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence. Kalkbrenner et al (2014)↩
PBDE Concentrations in Women’s Serum and Fecundability Harley et al (2010)↩
Exposure to flame retardant chemicals and occurrence and severity of papillary thyroid cancer: A case-control study. Hofmann et al (2017)↩
Lifestyle-related factors and environmental agents causing cancer: An overview. Irigary et al (2007)↩