We all know that chemicals are wreaking havoc on the environment, not to mention our own health. But sometimes, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where they’re coming from, especially within our own homes.

Recent research has shown many household cleaning items are to blame, with products like oven cleaner and shampoo releasing volatile organic compounds. Also known as VOCs, the amount released by household cleaners accounts for around half of VOCs in the planet’s atmosphere.

If you’re looking to curtail the amount of chemicals in your home, you’re in the right place. We’ve teamed up with Compost Direct, suppliers of core gardening materials such as mulch, to look at the impact of domestic chemicals and how to address them.

 

Chemicals in the home

We’re becoming increasingly aware of the amount of chemicals in our home. Although some are on their way to be banned, there are others that remain on our supermarket shelves. Examples of these include:

  • Garden pesticides — neonicotinoid pesticides put both honeybees and wild bees at risk. Although, the UK government has said it will support a complete ban on the outdoor use of bee-harming chemicals.
  • Benzene — this is a colourless chemical that is used to make lubricants, rubbers, dyes and detergents. It can be harmful with high exposure, as it leads to cells not working correctly.
  • Hand soap — some contain the chemical triclosan, which has been found to affect thyroid hormones in animal studies and possibly contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs.
  • Researchers from the University of Iowa discovered that some kitchen cabinets emit PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl compounds), chemicals which are under investigation as causes of cancer.
  • Formaldehyde — this is found in varnishes and floor finishes and can cause sickness and long-lasting problems after high exposure.

Mixing some domestic chemicals can be dangerous too The mixture of bleach and rubbing alcohol, for example, can create toxic chloroform and knock you unconscious — it’s always a good idea to read the label and be cautious when dealing with these sorts of products.

Alternatives

As they’re present in most everyday products, chemicals can be very difficult to avoid altogether. So, what actions can we take?

A good practice would be to check the labels of items you buy. Look out for the harmful ingredients that we’ve mentioned above and try to stay clear of them. As their dangerous properties have become more talked about, there are now many organic alternatives that you can buy for those sorts of products. Although these might have a higher price tag, it could be worth it in the long run.

Research shows that some plants can help combat chemicals in the air. Take a look at the following for example:

  • NASA reported that pineapple plants can improve air quality and help reduce snoring.
  • Red-edged Dracaena rids the air of chemicals including xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
  • Peace Lily can reduce toxins such as benzene, ammonia, ethyl and acetone and prevent the toxins from spreading across rooms. Research found that this plant can improve air quality by as much as 60%!

Sometimes, using products that give off strong fumes is unavoidable. In these instances, make sure the room is well ventilated, and keep humidity levels controlled with a dehumidifier where needed.

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