We all like certain scents, from our air fresheners to a renovated room with that new carpet smell. But that new smell could be causing your health issues! Lately, I’ve had several customers tell me, “I just got a new carpet and I’m having the worst headaches.” It’s nothing surprising. I’ve faced this issue myself.
Did you know that indoor air is 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air? According to the EPA, volatile organic compounds are found in much higher levels inside homes, compared to outside. Cleaning products, air fresheners, paint, and nail polish removers all reduce your indoor air quality. Take a minute to think about all the items in your house that could have VOCs.
The effects of VOCs on our health are still up for debate, but the EPA says these symptoms could be associated with indoor VOCs:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation.
- Headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea.
- Damage to the liver, kidneys, and the central nervous system
- Some organic compounds can cause cancer in animals and some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
Thankfully we don’t have to live in fear of VOCs. We can reduce our risk with just a few simple steps. First, limit your exposure to:
- Tobacco smoke
- Stored fuels
- Cleaning products
- Air fresheners
- Dry cleaning
Second, increase ventilation when using a product that might contain a VOC. Thinking about painting your nails? Consider doing it outside. Going to repaint your room? Try wearing a heavy duty Organic Vapor mask and make sure to keep windows open. Also, certain air filters are rated for VOCs and are good to have in your home. Do your research and find one that can handle VOCs.
Third, do you really need all those cleaning products under the sink? Many cleaning products are made with harsh chemicals and fragrances which most certainly contain VOCs. Remember, just because they say “green” or “environmentally friendly” doesn’t mean they don’t contain any VOCs. If they aren’t necessary, ditch them for products you know are safe.
And lastly, get outside more! Breathing more fresh air will not only reduce your exposure to VOCs, but has also been shown to help the immune system, reduce stress, and improve the natural cleansing action of your lungs.