Off-gassing is the release of chemicals from the items we bring into our homes or from the materials that our homes are constructed of. It wasn’t a big deal in old draughty houses with lots of air changes, but as we build our houses tighter for energy efficiency, these chemicals can build up inside. The most bizarre part is that we buy them without knowing what’s in them and store them in the bathroom — the smallest room in the house with the worst ventilation. Here are some common household items that contribute to this and some alternatives to help you lower their effects or avoid them altogether.
Not So Clean Afterall: Household Cleaners
It’s difficult to know where to begin with this one because so many of them contain harmful chemicals. That’s why inhaling them all gives people a “spring cleaning headache.” The majority are unnecessary. Most of the time, vinegar and baking soda are excellent substitutes.
Electric Feels: Electronics
Electronics can be toxic, especially when they heat up. The flame retardant triphenyl phosphate found in many products’ wiring insulation is an endocrine disruptor that releases when the device heats up. Make sure not to overuse your electric appliances so they don’t overheat, and make sure the room where they’re stored gets enough cooling and ventilation.
Shining Claws: Nail Polish Remover
Breathing acetone at moderate to high levels for short periods of time can irritate the nose, throat, lungs, and eyes. Intoxication, headaches, fatigue, stupor, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, increased pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and a shorter menstrual cycle in women are all possible side effects. If you have to use it, do it by an open window and consider protecting your mouth and nose with a scarf or a surgical mask.
Breathe Out: Air Fresheners
Few products are as stupid as air fresheners, which are designed to introduce chemicals into your home. The majority of them produce phthalates, a hormone disruptor that is the main villain in vinyl. Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that are especially harmful to children and unborn babies. Phthalates can lower testosterone levels and cause reproductive tissues such as abnormal genitalia and sperm production. Young children and pregnant women should avoid contact with these chemicals at all costs. To spread some good aroma around the house, opt for an essential oil diffuser, or scented candles, or make your own air freshener with natural household items. YouTube and Pinterest are chock full of tutorials.