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Snuggling up indoors may be the winter activity of choice, but how healthy is the air you are breathing? Shocking sources of indoor air pollution could slowly be poisoning you and your loved ones as you enjoy your hot coco. Learn what they are, and turn your home back into the safe heaven it should be.
Home Maintenance Risks
Do you suffer from headaches, eye, nose and throat irritations, or nausea? Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) may be to blame. These VOCs, which are themselves solids of liquids, give off certain chemicals in the form of gases. The most well-known and dangerous of these is formaldehyde.
Almost everyone knows that paint, lacquers, paint strippers and similar DIY supplies are not good to breathe in. Opening windows and leaving the space for a while are common precautions that really do help. You don't do that when you clean your house, but maybe you should. Many common household products, including cleaning materials, moth repellents and air fresheners, can also contain VOCs. These items can emit VOCs even when they are stored, not just immediately after use.
What can you do to reduce VOC levels in your home? Reading the label on any product that could contain chemicals would be the first step. Besides household cleaners, art and craft supplies and cosmetics like deodorant or hairspray may also contain VOCs. Follow the instructions on the label.
Always open windows while you are cleaning the house and keep them open for as long as you can. Make sure young children don't sleep or play in areas where you are working with toxic products. Sure, you still need to keep your home clean somehow — why not consider ecological products to take care of the planet and your own family all at once?
One last warning: carpets can contains lots of Volatile Organic Compounds too. Inquire about VOCs when purchasing a new carpet, and always make sure you air your carpet before installation. Keep kids away when the carpet is installed.
The kitchen is the most common problem area in any house. Research shows that gas cooking can produce very high levels of nitrogen dioxide, for instance. Your health could suffer, unless you ventilate very well or use extraction. Asthma and other respiratory problems are obvious side effects of the toxins that cooking fuels emit, but a recent study noted that your heart may suffer too.
The stove itself isn't the only danger in the kitchen, either. Teflon or other non-stick pans can release toxic fumes when they are used at very high temperatures. Using these pans as directed — at medium heat and not for really long periods of time — keeps you safe from this danger.