The Household Dangers Lurking in Plain View

New data points to common chemicals in the home as culprits causing a myriad of health complications and disorders.

modern apartment chemicals

Generally, thoughts of comfort, wellness, and joy come to mind when we think about our homes. It’s where we go at the end of the workday to rest and recuperate in preparation of what the next day will soon bring. However, despite the inclination to think of our homes as an indoor oasis of calm and health, it’s not always that simple. In fact, a new study from the University of Minnesota draws a clear correlation between common household chemicals and hazardous indoor air pollution in light of a sharp increase in asthma and allergy cases.

From formaldehyde to ammonia and much more, the particles floating in our homes are far less benign than we’d typically like to think.

According to the ATSDR, consideration of individual factors has to be examined to detect the level of harm the substance will cause. Formaldehyde produces itself naturally by plants, animals, and humans. You can get exposed to formaldehyde by breathing it in, ingesting it, or by skin contact. You can find it in wood products, automobile exhaust, and cigarette smoke. You can also find it in paints, varnishes, cleaning products, and permanent press fabrics. When you breathe in the substance, it will only enter your blood at high levels and goes to your respiratory tract. When you ingest it via food or water, it will enter your body through the digestive tract. When you use cleaning liquids with the substance, it will enter your system by way of the skin.

Ammonia is so exceedingly common in homes that no one could fault you for not spotting it sooner. Poisonous to children under the age of six (but potentially harmful to all), this colorless gas is thankfully easy to detect by smell. As Penn-Jersey explains:

It exists in nature as well as in the human body. It aids the body in making protein and other molecules. You can find it in fertilizer, water purification system, plastics, and explosives. It also exists in pesticides, fabrics, dyes, liquid dish soaps, and other chemicals. Most people get exposed to ammonia by breathing in the fumes. According to the New York State Department of Health [4], ammonia damages the cells in the body if you breathe, swallow or come into contact with it via the skin. The damages depend on how severe the exposure is. Your eyes, nose, and throat, will burn.

While there’s plenty be suspect of when it comes to chemicals in the home, safe, healthy breathing is not a lost cause. An indoor air cleaning system certainly helps, but seeking out natural alternatives is a recommended solution, too.

You can make your cleaning agents using natural ingredients. To make a glass cleaner, you can mix one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into one quart of water. Spray it on the glass, and use a soft cloth to clean it. You can make furniture polish by mixing one teaspoonful of lemon juice with one pint of mineral or vegetable oil. Getting rid of the odor from carpets does not have to involve toxic chemicals. You can sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and let it sit for fifteen minutes. Vacuum the area afterward. Substitute mothballs with cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, or white peppercorns.

Read more about common chemicals that can pose dangers to your health and how to clear them out of your home here!