3 Leading Culprits of Home Toxins & How to Be Rid of Them
The act of moving carries with it so many exciting opportunities, which in itself can often make the process feel overwhelming. The promise of a fresh start is invigorating, and while there is a lot of work involved, it’s fun to focus on the design elements that will truly make a space our own.
This September, my family and I moved to a new home, and I am certainly one that loves interior design. I can happily spend hours figuring out the new layout of a room or determining color palettes to create a mood. These activities definitely make all the hard work of coordinating logistics and packing worthwhile.
However, what often goes unconsidered in a move, but carries a great significance on the long-term impact of a space starts before you ever move a single piece of furniture. I’m talking about the finishing touches of paint, carpet, and wood floors, which drastically impact the level of home toxins. Often called “silent dangers,” each of these standard home and office components are capable of seriously affecting your health and clean living.
The great news is that there are multiple options for remedying your home toxin situation through paint, cleaner, and resurfacing choices. And I’m here to walk you through it so you’re that much closer to your cleanly simple life!
Let’s get started with an overall understanding of why these choices are so important.
Home Toxins Breakdown:
Most of us are well aware of the health risks involved with living spaces including mold, dust, lead-based paint, etc. But the problem goes much deeper and can actually worsen over time as materials age and continue to break down.
The general accepted wisdom is to avoid a room or space if you are, for example, doing a deep clean of the carpet, or applying a fresh coat of paint. Most of the worry is about the initial release of gases, or fumes, and to avoid exposure to the higher concentration. But we now know that these materials create a lifelong issue and are a serious cause of concern for your ongoing health.
Traditional paints, related products such as paint thinner, and cleaning products all emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Released as gases, VOCs contain known carcinogens like formaldehyde and a variety of other chemicals that pose serious health risks and lead to indoor air quality problems. These elements continue to off-gas into your environment for years, and can be very threatening to respiratory, cognitive, and developmental health.
So what can you do? Well, there are companies committed to seeing a change in this area and there are more options than ever before. These are my recommendations for the three biggest culprits pertaining to this issue: paint, carpet and wood floors.
You can find many choices by searching for Zero-VOC paint, and most home improvement stores are going to carry the brands you’ll find.
When my family recently moved to our new home, I chose Dunn-Edwards Everest Zero-VOC paint for every room. The application was smooth and quick and released practically no odor. We were able to paint and move furniture around as the walls dried with no feelings of light-headedness or the dreaded toxic fume headaches.
Natural wood floors are always the healthiest option, but it’s often just not practical, or you don’t have a choice if you’re renting. In those cases, I recommend Host Dry for cleaning carpets and have done so in my home with amazing results. Host Dry knows that the key issue with carpet cleaning, aside from nasty chemicals that they do not use, is the potential for introducing mold growth into your home through wet carpet that doesn’t dry quickly enough.
Host Dry’s system avoids the growth of mold by focusing on a non-wet method of cleaning. This is also great for the environment as water waste is eliminated in the process. This product is also perfect for grouted tile floors that are seemingly impossible to get clean.
By far the cleanest and most natural flooring, hard wood floors are the ideal choice. However, they require upkeep and this is where VOCs can be introduced into the home. When I resurfaced our hardwood floors before moving, I used Safecoat PolyureSeal PB - a high-quality, low toxicity water-based clear gloss finish.
Safecoat also has a multitude of other offerings for non-toxic, premium quality home or office renovation. They also carry a unique “doctor recommended” seal of approval, and work with environmental medical physicians in all of their product development.
These steps are easy to implement and great place to start towards a cleaner home. However, they only begin to scratch the surface when renovating or redesigning a home or office. There are increasingly more great options available for our homes today that avoid a host of toxic chemicals traditionally found in our furniture and other home furnishings.