Today, we have filled our homes with plenty of products to add convenience and comfort to our day-to-day life. However, this comfort comes with a price, as many of these products bring unseen toxins into our homes. While we look for solid and liquid toxins, many of these are present in the air. One research showed that indoor air can have more pollutants than outdoor air.
Some of the common toxins in our daily use products are volatile organic compounds, phthalates, pesticides, heavy metals, etc. These toxins are responsible for many ill effects on our health and can be present in the air, food, and water we consume.
The major indoor air pollution happens from wall paints, cleaners, furniture polish, air fresheners, etc. All these are composed of a variety of chemicals some of which can be toxic and hazardous. For example, wall paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and organic solvents.
Air fresheners, another commonly used product in homes are composed of formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p-dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants, phthalates are also added to lengthen the life of fragrances.
Similarly, bleach, a universal cleaning product found in almost every household, is composed of a chemical known as sodium hypochlorite. Toilet cleaners consist of hydrochloric acid, sodium Laureth sulfate, chlorides, bleach, etc. Detergents, a frequently used product in any household are mostly composed of enzymes and microplastics to loosen stains. Apart from these, Cosmetics are an essential part of our daily routine, from bathing to grooming there are plenty of products that we apply to our skin and hair. Most of these contain sulfates, phthalates, parabens, triclosan, etc.
Now all the chemicals discussed above have one or another harmful effect on our health. Prolonged exposure to many such compounds may cause serious ailments. Discussed briefly are common health hazards that these chemicals may cause:
- Exposure to volatile organic compounds can irritate eyes, and skin and cause visual disorders, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Chronic exposure can result in cancer and respiratory diseases.
- Prolonged exposure to chemicals present in air fresheners may cause cancer and brain damage.
- Chemicals present in cosmetics can disturb the hormonal balance, disrupt the endocrine system, clog pores and dry out the skin.
- Direct ingestion of detergents can result in nausea, vomiting, shock, convulsions, and coma. Microplastics cause harm to water bodies and aquatic life.
- Bleach vapors can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. If it comes in contact with skin it may cause dermatitis. Apart from this, direct ingestion can cause esophageal injury, stomach irritation, and prolonged nausea and vomiting.
- Chemicals from toilet cleaners come out in the form of fumes and prolonged inhalation can cause respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness, etc.
The list discussed above is not exhaustive, there are plenty more that can be added to it corresponding to the specific chemical. Many of these products have indeed become an integral part of our daily life and it is nearly impossible to avoid using any of them. But to prevent their harmful effects, we can become more conscious while using or buying them.
It is best to adopt practices like keeping the house well ventilated to avoid the accumulation of any toxic fumes or vapors released from furniture or cleaning products. Wearing gloves and a mask while using bleach and other chemical cleaners will help in avoiding direct contact and inhaling. Moreover, today natural and eco-friendly substitutes are available for many such products.
Becoming a conscious consumer can help us keep these toxins out of our homes, and preserve our health and our planet.