Prevent the pollution of your indoor air by learning more about the dangers of these common household products.
From the perfume you spritz on before that morning meeting to the relaxing candle you light at the end of a long workday, you probably don’t realize all of the air-polluting chemicals you come in contact with throughout the day. But the reality is, the chemicals from these everyday household products now emit as many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as cars in the U.S.* Read on for six hidden air-quality offenders and how you can, literally, clean up your act.
Paint often contains volatile organic compounds that may cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and nausea, among other symptoms.** When you’re beginning a new project, check the can for words such as low or no VOCs, nontoxic or natural.
You’ve likely heard that aerosol sprays aren’t doing the environment any favors. But there’s another reason to ditch the clunky cans: Whether it’s your favorite hairspray, perfume, deodorant, sunscreen or air freshener, aerosol sprays are also a major source of VOCs.
There are few things as relaxing as taking a bubble bath by candlelight, but those flickering flames may be doing more harm than good. That’s because candles’ synthetic fragrances and paraffin wax release chemicals into the air. For a more natural scent, opt for beeswax or soy candles, simmer spices on your stovetop or create your own blend of potpourri. You could also try a Filtrete™ Whole House Air Freshener, which attaches to your HVAC air filter and distributes its scent through your home’s vents.
When you pick up those freshly cleaned and pressed suits and dresses, you could also be bringing home perchloroethylene, the most widely used dry-cleaning chemical linked to dizziness, drowsiness, a lack of coordination, even cancer.*** The next time you retrieve your garments, pay close attention to the smell—if you’re getting whiffs of solvent, ask them to be processed again.
From VOCs to ammonia and bleach, the harsh chemicals found in cleaning products—think detergent and dishwashing liquids, oven cleaners, and furniture and floor polishes—can contribute to respiratory problems. These problems can include asthma, headaches and allergic reactions. Before you buy a product, check the Environmental Working Group’s safety rating, or concoct your own cleaning supplies with everyday household items, such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.
A humidifier can be a great solution for someone who suffers from dry skin, a scratchy throat or sinus problems, but if used incorrectly, it can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria in your air. To prevent this, clean the unit every day and make sure your home’s humidity hovers between 30 and 50 percent.****
And too, use distilled or demineralized water in your humidifier. Tap water contains minerals that can create deposits inside your humidifier that promote pesky bacterial growth. And if you’ve ever seen white dust on your furniture, that can be caused by the mineral content in the water that goes into a humidifier. Distilled or demineralized water has a much lower mineral content than tap water does.