What are the health benefits of sustainable products?
We spend 90% of our time indoors and many of the things in our homes and offices emit gases called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the EPA, the list of negative health impacts from household VOCs includes eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, loss of coordination, organ and central nervous system damage, and some are suspected or known to cause cancer. Common VOCs found in homes include paint, vinyl objects like shower curtains, electronic goods, flame retardants in soft furnishings, and conventional household cleaning products. It’s a long list!
Most domestic air filters aren’t up to the job of removing VOCs. HEPA filters are great at removing particles like smoke, but VOCs are gasses and require more expensive carbon filters to trap. The good news is that you can reduce toxic air levels at home by making a few changes in what you buy and how you live. You might not want to toss everything you own and start again but making informed choices when renovating or replacing large items has a huge impact on your inside air quality.
Buy mattresses, rugs, and furniture that hasn’t been treated with flame retardant chemicals, choose zero-VOC paints, and avoid using varnish or vinyl flooring. If you must use some of these things, know that they might off gas for many months. One day of airing out isn’t enough. Electric induction stoves reduce VOCs significantly and use less overall energy that gas, so if you’re renovating your kitchen, your stove is a great thing to change. Smaller changes you can make? Natural cosmetics and hair products reduce VOCs and prevent absorbing toxins through your skin. Don’t use chemical air fresheners or heavily scented paraffin candles, skip the dry cleaner, and switch conventional household cleaners for natural ones.
Back in 1984, NASA did a study that suggested houseplants could absorb airborne compounds. Sadly, newer studies cast doubt on that study. There’s no quick fix to reducing our chemical exposure. Making small changes to live more sustainably is our best option right now. That said, you should still get the houseplant!”