Portfolio on the spotlight De-toxify your home!

The house is a place of high levels of pollution. What can we do to limit chemical risks and maintain good health?

Houses are very vulnerable places in terms of pollution. In fact, we store in them a lot of products coming from the outside, starting with supermarket packaging, shoes and cleaning products. We even stock pollutants in garbage cans and vacuum cleaners, not to mention kitchen fumes, heaters… and cigarette smoke.

All this pollution affects our health, especially since we spend a lot of time in the house, the night being a privileged moment during which our body is very vulnerable.

These types of pollution worsen allergic reactions (rhinitis, asthma, conjunctivitis…) which are amplified by an increasingly efficient insulation which, if it prevents pollutants from entering, it also hampers them to leave our houses, so that some of them are present at concentrations 10 times higher than outside.

1. Nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide

Emissions from gas stoves, pilot lights for water heaters, gas stoves, fireplaces, radiators and tobacco smoke can be found in kitchens, garages, dining rooms and bedrooms. Nitrogen monoxide (or nitric oxide) is often the result of a poorly maintained heating system and, in France, causes more than 200 deaths each year. CO2 gas causes chronic intoxications at low doses with symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and headaches.

2. Sulphur dioxide

Sulphur is produced by burning coal and fuel oil. It is generally found in rooms equipped with coal and oil heating.

3. Chemical compounds

Chemical compounds can be classified into several categories.

First of all, there are the chemical compounds for cleaning products. They are generally detergents with synthetic scents. We also find that bleach, which is an important source of chlorine, is still used intensively.

In many products, we find organic solvents (acetone, petroleum mixtures and alcohols); these products being volatile, we classify them in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). They evaporate at room temperature. These products can stay in the home for many years. The decay of materials can intensify the symptoms caused by these substances. 80% of homes have a formaldehyde content 5 to 50 times higher than that of the outside.

Among the materials containing the most chemicals, we find:

  • Building, decoration and insulation materials
  • Wall painting materials
  • Enamels
  • Glues
  • Coatings
  • Cleaning products: cleaning, air fresheners, stain removers, insecticides,
  • scented candles and sanitizers
  • Deodorants
  • Hairspray
  • Insulating materials

4. Tobacco

Despite the increases in prices, tobacco remains the main domestic pollutant, now accompanied by the electronic cigarette, which has the power of poisoning people with glycol, which is one to the VOC elements.

Warning measures

Since 2013, polluting products placed on the market must have a label that clearly indicates the level of emission of volatile pollutants of the product. These labels allow consumers, manufacturers and decision-makers to choose on the basis of criteria that take into account indoor air quality and to have clear and transparent information.
The pollutants targeted are those most frequently encountered in residential housing, namely formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, toluene, tetrachloroethylene, xylene, trimethylbenzene, dichlorobenzene, ethylbenzene, butoxyethanol, styrene, as well as the total volatile organic compounds (TVOC).

 

The emission level of each pollutant is subject to a technical class ranging from

  • A+: Very low level of emissions.
  • A: Low level of emissions.
  • B: Emissions of moderate intensity.
  • C: Strong emissions.

The first precaution that the consumer must absolutely take is a critical reading of the labels to know the composition of the product. The list of ingredients and the hazard symbols clearly indicate the risks involved.
Besides the purchase of products, the consumer must regularly review the stored products and think about the measures to be taken to detoxify his home.
The first measure is a rational use of products, a limited number of products in store and a systematic disposal of unused products that remains in the cupboards for years.

Erick Venturelli

Responsable Recherche & Développement

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