Do You Make These Two Mistakes That Taint Your Indoor Air?

Do You Make These Two Mistakes That Taint Your Indoor Air?  From The Zen of Pure Living

—Part 2 of the Series—

Do You Make These Two Mistakes That Taint Your Indoor Air?

 

Do you believe that outdoor air is dirtier than indoor air?

Well, you’re mistaken.

It’s hard to believe – right? You were always taught to be concerned about outdoor air pollution. But, in reality, it’s really the air trapped in your home that is dirtier than outdoor air.

Here’s one important fact you need to know:

—-EPA studies confirm that indoor air pollutants may be 2-5 times higher than outdoor air—-

How can this be?

First of all, you live indoors with the windows closed with the same air being recirculated by your heating/air conditioning systems trapping all sorts of airborne particles inside.

Yes sure, your air filters catch some of the larger particles, but it is really the finer particles and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that cause health issues. And, your air conditioner/heating filters are no match for these airborne particles.

Second, if you’re making the mistake of using air fresheners and the wrong cleaning products, you are adding to poor indoor air quality.

Kinda of disturbing, isn’t it?

Simply by using air fresheners and cleaning products, you are releasing VOCs that could create health issues for you.

Here’s what you need to know about air fresheners.

Bad News About Your Air Freshener

You like your home to smell fresh and clean, so you use spray air fresheners, scented candles and plug-ins. The scents smell great, and you don’t have to worry about your house smelling funny when people stop by.

You’ve smelled bad odors in other people’s homes, and you don’t want that happening to you!
Unfortunately, while you may love the way your air freshener makes your home smell, you may unknowingly be subjecting yourself to dangerous chemicals.

You can read the full article (What’s In Your Air Freshener?), but the facts are simple.

Research shows that air fresheners contain hormone disrupting chemicals and chemicals that are likely or known carcinogens.

Check out this scary example:

—-Febreze was found to contain 89 airborne contaminants—-

Sadly, any freshener containing perfume is problematic. So, whether you’re using scented candles, plug-ins, sprays or solids, it’s all the same.

It’s troubling, isn’t it?

So, do a good thing for your health, and stop making the mistake of using air fresheners or use them on a more limited basis.

The Second Mistake – Using the Wrong Cleaning Products

Cleaning products are another source of bad stuff released into your air that you really want to take seriously.

Check out Get The Truth About What’s In Your Cleaning Products for the full story.

Want the simple truth?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has lax regulations for disclosing ingredients so anything labeled as fragrance is largely unregulated and untested.

Fragrances can be any one of 3000+ ingredients – many synthetic, petroleum-based and toxic.

Think that buying products labeled as Green or All Natural are safer? They aren’t. Green and All Natural are marketing terms that aren’t regulated.

Admit it.

You’re a bit dismayed that labels aren’t trustworthy. And, that you are using products with untested, unregulated ingredients.

How do you find the safest cleaning products?

You can easily find the safest cleaning products though.

Use the Pure Living Space Shopping List for the Safest Cleaning Products. Click to sign up for a free printable shopping list that is all set for your next grocery run.

You’ve got what you need to improve your health today, so what’s stopping you?

Unless maybe….you’ve got an evil genius like Mary Todd Lincoln!

My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ’til a more convenient season.”

Mary Todd Lincoln

Don’t miss the rest of the series! You’ll learn some surprising ways to clean up your indoor air and more myths will be debunked. Sign up for weeks 3-12.

What to Do When Experts Disagree About Product Safety

What To Do When Experts Disagree About Wood Laminate Product Safety

You may have heard about or watched the 60 Minutes feature on formaldehyde and laminate wood flooring. Global Community Monitor filed a lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators saying it had conducted more than 50 tests on flooring products, and the results showed average initial formaldehyde exposures to be more than 100 times the amount allowed by CA Prop 65.

It’s a staggering number, and it probably caught your attention, didn’t it?

On the surface, it seems straightforward–the tests show the flooring is unsafe. However, here’s where it gets a bit tricky.

The experts disagree.

The Debate About Testing Methods

The tests that were the basis of the lawsuit used a “deconstructing test method” rather than industry standard test methods. Some experts alleged that the deconstructing method alters the way the product would be used in the home, and as a result, leads to unreliable test results.

Recently, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched an investigation into Lumber Liquidators’ wood laminate flooring, and the CPSC intends to use industry standards to test the flooring rather than the deconstructing test method. It will be several months before the investigation is complete, but some experts believe that the CPSC will prove that the floors are safe.

So, when the experts disagree, what should you do?

You should use the preventative principle.

Take action to protect yourself and your family so there’s less chance of suffering from high levels of formaldehyde in your home.

Buy the safest products, learn the facts about formaldehyde, and follow steps to reduce formaldehyde in your home.

How to Protect Yourself When Buying Wood Laminate Floors – Buy the Safest Products
When buying wood laminate flooring, you can be sure you’re getting the safest flooring by following the EPA recommendations. Buy products that are labeled or stamped in compliance with:

  • California Air Resources Board Air Toxics Control Measure (CARB ATCM)
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI):
    • Particleboard should conform to A208.1-2009 or CARB ATCM
    • MDF should conform to A208.2-2009 or CARB ATCM
    • Hardwood Plywood should conform to ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2009 or CARB ATCM

Is Formaldehyde Really That Toxic? Learn the Facts About Formaldehyde
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry provides convincing information that formaldehyde is dangerous to your health.

  • At room temperature, formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas that has a distinct, pungent smell.
  • Formaldehyde is quickly broken down in the air, usually within hours.
  • Emissions generally decrease as product ages.
  • Formaldehyde dissolves easily but does not last a long time in water.
  • Formaldehyde does not build up in humans.
  • The primary way you can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing air containing it.
  • Indoor air contains higher levels of formaldehyde than outdoor air. Levels of formaldehyde measured in indoor air range from 0.02-4 ppm. Formaldehyde levels in outdoor air range from 0.0002 to 0.006 ppm in rural and suburban areas and 0.001 to 0.02 ppm in urban areas.
  • Health effects: Nasal and eye irritation, neurological effects, and increased risk of asthma and/or allergy have been observed in humans breathing 0.1 to 0.5 ppm. Eczema and changes in lung function have been observed at 0.6 to 1.9 ppm.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen based on human and animal inhalation studies.
  • Children’s health effects: A small number of studies have looked at the health effects of formaldehyde in children. It is very likely that breathing formaldehyde will result in nose and eye irritation. It is not know if the irritation would occur at lower concentrations in children than in adults. There is some evidence of asthma or asthma-like symptoms for children exposed to formaldehyde in homes.

Want to learn more? Read the CPSC formaldehyde update. 

How to Reduce Formaldehyde in Your Home
Check out these ideas for reducing the formaldehyde levels in your home.

1. Open the windows to increase ventilation.

2. Use air conditioning and dehumidifiers to reduce heat and humidity.

The EPA states that the rate at which formaldehyde is released is accelerated by heat and may also depend somewhat on the humidity level.

3. Fill your room with plants that absorb formaldehyde. It’s scientifically proven that plants can absorb VOCs like formaldehyde.

See which plants work best to absorb formaldehyde.

4. Purchase a high quality air cleaner that is specially designed to remove formaldehyde from your air.

You’ll need a unit with a true HEPA filter and Carbon filter specially treated to remove VOCs like formaldehyde. All air purifiers are not created equal, so if you’re targeting the removal of formaldehyde be sure to check out Austin Air HealthMate Plus. It will solve your problem.

How Do I Test My Floors or Air for Formaldehyde?
Testing is neither easy nor cheap.

The EPA says it “has not tested or verified the accuracy of home test kits for formaldehyde”. However, the EPA does offer a list of California laboratories that currently participate in CA’s third-party certification program.

Please note that these laboratories are set up to work with manufacturers and not consumers. Click here for the list of California laboratories.

When Experts Disagree Use the Preventative Principle
If you’re in the market for laminated wood flooring, follow the EPA guidelines and look for products that are CARB ATCM or ANSI compliant. The state of California is typically on the leading edge in consumer safety and the ANSI compliance stamp is a meaningful certification, so search for products and manufacturers that are compliant.

If you’ve recently purchased laminated wood flooring, follow the four steps listed above to reduce the amount of formaldehyde in your air and you’ll breathe easier.

 

Sources:

  • CPSC.gov – Questions and Answers regarding laminate flooring
  • EPA.gov – Protect Against Exposure on formaldehyde
  • The Motley Fool: Lawsuit by Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. Is Tossed
  • The Motley Fool: Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. Stock Down 20% on Earnings

How a Boston Fern Can Improve Your Health

Learn How a Boston Fern Can Clean Up Your Indoor Air

You may be surprised to learn that your indoor air is dirtier than outdoor air, and you may be wondering how this could possibly be.

It’s pretty simple. It’s because just about everything you bring into your house off-gasses creating Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs for short. And then to make matters worse, most of the time your windows are closed which traps all sorts of pollutants inside.

So, what is to blame for all of the VOCs in your place?

Here’s a partial list: carpets, paint, wall coverings, fabrics, cleaning products, scented candles, air fresheners, perfumes, pressed wood furniture, polyurethane foam furniture, adhesives, stains, and cooking. Another source of VOCs is laminate wood flooring which you’ve probably heard quite a bit about with the recent allegations against Lumber Liquidators and formaldehyde-releasing flooring.

The most prevalent VOC in homes is formaldehyde and it’s in just about everything. According to the EPA, at certain exposures, formaldehyde can cause a variety of adverse health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as other respiratory symptoms. The National Toxicology Program recently classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.

So, it’s generally not good news for you, although fortunately formaldehyde does dissipate over time.

How long does it take for formaldehyde to disappear? It really isn’t clear–testing is difficult for many reasons. The EPA simply says that “formaldehyde emissions are highest when products are new and diminish over time so the longer a product has been in place, the lower the levels of formaldehyde likely to be emitted.”

Boston Ferns Absorb Formaldehyde

The good news is that Boston Ferns are proven to reduce formaldehyde. And so, living with plants specifically the ones that work to lower VOCs can improve your health. According to Dr. Bill Wolverton an Environmental Scientist, plants can be used effectively to reduce VOCs.

You’ll need two plants in 10-12” pots per 100 sq ft. For more information check out his book “Plants: Why You Can’t Live Without Them”. Many studies support the ability of plants to reduce VOCs. In addition to Boston Ferns, English Ivy, Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and Spider plants also reduce formaldehyde.

Here’s the list:

  • Boston Fern
    • One of the most efficient air purifying plants for formaldehyde according to study published in HortScience
    • Requires moisture and humidity to thrive
    • Removes formaldehyde (carpeting, curtains, plywood, particle board furniture and adhesives)
  • English Ivy
    • Thrives in low sunlight
    • Absorbs formaldehyde (carpeting, curtains, plywood, particle board furniture and adhesives)
  • Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
    • Thrives in low light
    • Lowers carbon dioxide and rids air of formaldehyde and benzene
  • Spider Plant
    • Easy to grow
    • Reduces formaldehyde and benzene

How do you keep your indoor air clean? Have you tried using plants?

Find other ways to reduce formaldehyde and other VOCs to clean up your indoor air. And, check out The Zen of Pure Living for helpful ways to keep from inadvertently bringing harmful chemicals into your home.