May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and it starts with Air Quality Awareness Week next week, May 1st – 5th.
Air quality as a whole is a big issue, but you can control it to some degree starting inside your home. Traditional cleaning products contain a class of chemicals called volatile organic compounds or VOCs which contaminate the air for 20 minutes after use. HealthyChild.com claims that this type of indoor air pollution is one of “the top five environmental risks to public health.”1
Key health effects of exposure to VOCs in the air include:
- “Eye, nose and throat irritation
- headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
- Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.”2
VOCs are also incredibly prevalent in scented products. That scent you love so much, that you associate with your home being “clean”, can actually cause headaches, nose bleeds, allergic skin reactions, nausea, vomiting and more.2 The Environmental Working Group considers fragrances to be “among the top five allergens in the world… [and]…can also trigger asthma attacks.”3
Not only do these fragrances have negative effects on health, but they can create a nasty cocktail of chemicals in the air. According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “[a] single fragrance in a product can contain a mixture of hundreds of chemicals, some of which (e.g., limonene, a citrus scent) react with ozone in ambient air to form dangerous secondary pollutants, including formaldehyde.”4
The same study also states that “[a] survey of selected scented consumer goods showed the products emitted more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws. Even products advertised as “green,” “natural,” or “organic” emitted as many hazardous chemicals as standard ones.”
The bottom line is that “[w]e know air quality can affect the lungs and heart and cause serious health problems, as documented in a large body of scientific literature.”5 The good news is that protecting the indoor air quality of your home environment is possible. And e-cloth can help!