10 RULES TO LIVE IN A SAFE HOUSE
Updated: Jul 18, 2018
Many substances with which items in our house are coated or made of are plastic or treated with glues or chemical paints that inevitably, over time, release substances and components that were used in their production. Formaldehyde resins, bisphenol, chloride and acetate for plastics, benzene and nitric or titanium dioxides for paints and cements. The list of substances that every item we buy may emit (naturally over time or when rubbed) is very long, it must be said that every single product on the market often follows rules and laws that guarantee its non-toxicity, but the problem is created when many different products, that may individually emit few toxic substances, are accumulated together in a closed environment such as a home, where they add up and accumulate their emissions with those of other products.
Whenever we use detergents on plastics, paints or worktops we increase the concentration of substances released from these surfaces. It is therefore not the toxicity of a single object that must be of concern, but the amount of objects with plastic, glues, resin or varnish, which determines the air quality of our dwelling in the end.
Here are 10 rules and tips to make better choices and improve air quality in our home and the health of those who live there.
Always choose, where possible, natural materials for your interior decor: wood, stone, ceramics, glass. It is better if they are untreated or at the most coated with natural waxes or coatings, that is without varnish, films, resins or synthetic chemical paints.
Do not be fooled by those who sell "coatings" or "coated" products calling them "green", even if coated with natural materials (mother of pearl, fabrics, wood, leather, metals etc.). Covering a surface with natural materials does not mean making it a healthy product, especially if, inevitably, adhesives and coatings must be used, which are always more harmful than any other plastic material.
Get used to smelling things you buy. Our nose is a very important chemical sensor that nature has given us, if the smell of something is unpleasant, synthetic or irritating your body is probably telling you that on that surface, on that product, there is something that is not good. Listen to your senses.
Clean plastic or painted surfaces of your products with a non-abrasive cloth and no detergents, often a damp cloth is all you need to clean almost everything. You can never know exactly what reaction a cleaning substance can have with the paint or resin of your product.
Always air out your house well, even in winter. Every inhabited closed environment should have a complete replacement of air at least once a week. The fresh air prevents the accumulation of chemical pollutants but also prevents the proliferation of bacteria.
Lamps made of plastic or painted with synthetic paint, can increase their emissions if their surface is heated too much. For these products just use energy efficient light bulbs with the minimum power required to ensure the desired brightness. Besides saving on your bill you will avoid activating the volatile particles of the plastic products.
Get used to always asking about the origin of the materials you purchase. European materials follow European standards, but outside Europe many companies do not have well-defined limits on the use of chemical compounds and industrial processes. If a material is healthy, it does not need too many certifications or too many labels and what's more it should not have to travel too much to get to you.
Luxury is often deceiving, just because a product is expensive does not mean that it is made with healthy materials and processes. Always ask about the history of the products that you put in your home. Always ask yourself these questions before you buy a piece of furniture: What material is it made of? In which country has it been produced? Under what regulations? How many materials is it composed of? How far has it had to travel to get to me?
Few materials are always preferable to many and "shiny" coatings are often just a way to deceive buyers. Where possible choose single materials with natural surfaces, untreated and uncoated. In nature beauty is honest, made of tangible things which are exactly as they appear, without much added.
Always think about your home as a small workshop: if it is the workshop of a potter, you need not worry too much about what you put in it; you don't need to spend money or time on too many certifications. But if you are a workshop that deals with plastics, then you had better pay close attention to your ventilation system and to the toxicity certifications of various products... choose what kind of workshop you want to be.