Let’s Start With Paint.
The weekend + springtime = the perfect recipe for getting projects done around the house. The Natural Resources Defense Council offers information on not only the biggest offenders when it comes to hazardous chemical exposure in renovation materials, but they also offer weblinks to finding safer building materials from sources that have banned those worrisome chemicals – places like Cradle to Cradle, HomeFree, Green Seal, BlueGreen Alliance, and more.
Worrisome Chemicals, You Say?
Yes, for starters chemicals like phthalates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and methanol. Also known as methyl alcohol, methanol is used in manufacturing as a solvent for fats, oils, and resins. Toxicity symptoms from exposure can range from headache to death. We must become aware of where we may be exposed (especially occupationally) through renovation, remodeling, and building construction.
Another of the thousands or so chemicals used in manufacturing today, methylene chloride is an extremely toxic chemical found in paint strippers. A 31-year old wearing a respirator and gloves died attempting to resurface a floor using a paint stripper containing methylene chloride. But he’s not the only one. There were also 4 deaths in Michigan attributed to exposure to this chemical. But because of consumer awareness and activism, look who has joined in banning products containing this chemical: Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Ace, Sherwin Williams, and even Amazon!
Interestingly, when the EPA banned it there was pushback from the chemical industry (which actually doesn’t surprise me) while the alternative for methylene chloride is something called NMP – a chemical that can cause birth defects and reproductive issues.
Vinyl Flooring And Carpet.
Thinking about replacing your vinyl flooring or carpeting? If so, it’s extremely important for you to visit the Ann Arbor Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff website for product test results. Their vinyl flooring study found 58% of 65 vinyl floor tiles tested contained phthalates. They also tested carpet for chemicals in the PFAS family. But along with checking the Healthy Stuff website, you can also check your renovation products through the Consumer Product Information Database in the following categories (and more): Home Maintenance, Inside the Home, and Home Office.
Speaking Of Floors.
Can we really vacuum away toxic chemicals? The answer is “yes.” Some of the tiniest particles of chemicals found in our homes are also in the dust on carpet, rugs and furniture. And remember, children are more vulnerable to exposure as they spend more time on the floor, so they’ll typically inhale or ingest more of this chemical-laden dust. Toxic-Free Future offers links to cleaning carpets without dangerous chemicals, tips for green cleaning carpets and floors, and more information on toxins in household dust. There is also a short YouTube video from the Environmental Working Group explaining how to reduce toxic chemicals in your household dust.
As our climate continues to change and the summers get hotter, there seems to be a lot more flooding from heavy rains in certain parts of the country. Even Ann Arbor got over 6 inches of rain in July 2019 where the average is typically around 3.5 inches. So because of all of this added humidity and flooding, black mold is a becoming more and more of problem. However, the Natural Resources Defense Council offers solutions to remediating toxic black mold on a smaller budget.
The Art & Hobby Room.
Along with the chemicals in renovation materials, you may also want to consider toxicity in the materials that you’re using for your hobbies and art. Toxic-Free Future provides information on adhesives, lead, glue, art paints, mineral spirits and turpentine but don’t forget to also check your Hobby & Craft supplies for safety in the Consumer Product Information Database.
Bottom Line, Check Your Products!
It’s not just the chemicals in our renovation products or those found in the art and hobby room. There are hazardous chemicals in our cleaning products and air fresheners, and even in our dishwashing products! Of 477 products that the Environmental Working Group tested, only 79 scored an “A” while over 53% of them scored a D or an F!
Additionally, you may want to consider the safety of your bath, shower, and laundry products at GoodGuide featuring over 75,000 products in their database. There is also an app you can download on your smart phone and simply scan the barcode of products while you shop!
Then back to the Consumer Product Information Database , where you can also check product safety for Personal Care products, those used on your Auto, in Landscaping/Yard, Pesticides, and Pet Care.