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The Hidden Dangers of Indoor Toxins and How to Eliminate Them Naturally

Opening Window Toxins
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The Hidden Dangers of Indoor Toxins and How to Eliminate Them Naturally

Here at The Complementary Medical Association (The CMA), we are frequently asked about living healthier lives and reducing exposure to environmental toxins. One common oversight we’ve noticed is the neglect of indoor environmental toxins – it seems that everyone is concerned about external environmental toxins, and they forget to look at what is actually going on in our own homes. 

Indoor toxins may include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) from paints, adhesives, household cleaners, mould spores, dust mites, and off-gassing from furniture and carpets. Prolonged exposure to these can cause health issues ranging from allergies to respiratory conditions, and many VOCs / SVOCs are known carcinogens. These can include chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, toluene, and polyurethane.

So, what can we do about it? The first step is to increase ventilation in your home. Open windows and use exhaust fans to expel indoor air and bring in fresh air from outside. Secondly, switch to natural, homemade cleaning products. Not only are they eco-friendly, but they also eliminate the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals found in many commercial cleaning products.

How to make your own home-made cleaning products – quickly, easily, and cheaply:

Mix equal parts white vinegar and water for an effective, multi-surface cleaner. For a refreshing scent, you can add a few drops of essential oils like lavender or lemon. Important; see our article on which essential oils can safely be used around pets. Baking soda mixed with a little water forms a potent, non-toxic scrub for tough stains. You can also use olive oil and lemon juice for a natural furniture polish. White vinegar works a treat for dissolving limescale, reducing limescale marks (these are particularly present if you live in a hard water area!), and a good soak in vinegar can descale your showerhead – making the water flow much stronger.

Remember, the key to a healthier indoor environment is awareness and making healthier choices. 

We can’t eliminate all indoor environmental toxins, but we can significantly reduce our exposure with some simple, natural solutions. In addition to the steps above, it’s essential to consider other sources of indoor pollution in our homes. Think about your furniture. Many items are coated with flame-retardant chemicals that can off-gas into your home. When it comes to buying furniture, opt for second-hand pieces that have already off-gassed, or look for new furniture made from natural materials with non-toxic finishes.

Artificial scents as sources of indoor environmental toxins

Air fresheners and scented candles are another common source of indoor environmental toxins. These products often contain phthalates, a group of chemicals linked to hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. Instead, consider using essential oils in a diffuser for a natural, toxin-free fragrance – again checking to ensure any essential oils you use are pet-safe.

Dust and its toxic potential

Household dust is another often overlooked source of toxins. Dust can contain lead, fire retardants, pesticides, and other chemicals. Regular dusting, vacuuming, and mopping can help reduce dust and the associated toxins. Also, consider investing in a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air)-filter air purifier which can capture smaller, ultrafine particles.

Non-stick cookware

Let’s not forget about the potential danger posed by non-stick cookware. While it offers the convenience of easy cleaning, the polytetrafluoroethylene coating that gives non-stick cookware its non-stick properties can release toxic fumes when heated. Consider swapping your non-stick cookware for safer alternatives such as stainless steel, cast iron, or glass.

Household plants to purify your home environment

Lastly, houseplants can act as natural air purifiers. Plants such as the Snake plant (Mother-in-law’s tongue!), English Ivy, and Boston Fern are known for their air-purifying properties, reducing levels of formaldehyde, benzene, and other VOCs / SVOCs.

Remember, while it might be impossible to completely free our homes of indoor toxins, making conscious decisions can drastically reduce our exposure and lead to a healthier, more natural home environment.

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