Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang, "Our house is a very, very, very fine house, with two cats in the yard." This is the ideal home for the average person. Things are not quite what they seem, though. While people sleep in their seemingly pefect homes, life-threatening burglars lurk around the house. To many scientists, these dangerous burglars are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
VOCs are health hazards because of outgassing, the release of entrapped gases in a material. Common household items such as chemical-based cleaners, paint, carpets and some home furnishings can outgas damaging chemicals like formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide and "repeat offenders" chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
In high concentrations in small areas (like homes and cars), these chemicals can instigate a plethora of ailments including but not limited to chronic nausea, headaches and organ damage. Additional neurological and psychological conditions can develop in tandem with these problems. Sick building syndrome (SBS)
occurs when people begin feeling ill spontaneously when spending time in a certain building.
Aside from the doom and gloom, there are many ways to reduce VOC amounts in homes. Five excellent ways to start are:
- Open windows and/or doors. This allows fresh air to circulate throughout the hallways and corridors and remove these harmful chemicals from indoors.
- Clean all the floors and carpets biweekly. Vacuuming not only removes unsightly stains, but also it eliminates dangerous chemicals and decreases the in-house radioactivity. An efficient and clean vacuum can kill 100 percent of fleas and ticks.
- Use plant-based and biodegradable cleaning agents. Green Works and Seventh Generation are excellent eco-cleaners fit to tackle everything from kitchens to home offices.
- Change in-home air filters every three months. Air filters trap and destroy billions of harmful germs and chemicals every day. Unclean filters fail to eliminate harmful agents.
- Stop using chemical-based air fresheners and pest killers. Bug killers contain extremely harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide. Additionally, the scents last for a short time. Fresh flowers and opening the windows work better.
In terms of eliminating VOCs from household products, the fight continues. Following these tips and others regularly will make a safer, happier and healthier home complete with "two cats in the yard."