Beware your carpet!

Many household items, such as “chipboard” furniture, paints, paint strippers and thinners, cigarette smoke, aerosol sprays, moth balls, air fresheners, new carpeting or furniture, hobby supplies (glues and solvents), stored fuels, and dry-cleaned clothing all contain volatine organic chemicals (VOCs) like formaldehyde and benzene. This is particularly a problem in nurseries or children’s rooms, as some of these chemicals are known to cause cancer and other equally undesirable long term effects.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do about it:

  • Ask about the formaldehyde emissions of furniture and building products before you purchase and install them in your home.
  • If such information is unavailable, avoid products with components made of raw medium density fiberboard or other types of composite wood.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation within your home. Maintain moderate temperatures and humidity levels.
  • Place pollution-absorbing plants, such as dracaena, ferns, philodendrons, or peace lilies, in your home. Try to have at least one for every 9m2, and make sure they have a healthy root system, as it’s this part that maintains its air-purifiying properties.
  • Do not buy more chemicals than you need at a time.  Be aware of what products contain VOCs.
  • Store unused chemicals in appropriate containers in a well-ventilated location.
  • If you smell a chemical odour that does not seem to be from an indoor source, contact your local health department.  For very strong odours, your local fire department can determine if there is a fire hazard.
  • Don’t make your home too air tight.  Fresh air will help prevent both build up of chemicals in the air and mould growth.
  • Fix all leaks promptly, as well as other moisture problems that encourage mould growth.
  • Make sure all major appliances and fireplaces are in good condition.  Have them checked annually by a professional.

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Amanda is OIA's new IT person - in charge of all things technological, including the development of our new-look website. Oddly enough, she comes from a biochemistry background... go figure.
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