When your child suffers from allergies or asthma, going outside in certain seasons can be a miserable experience. You don’t go anywhere without allergy medication and an inhaler. However, what if there are things INSIDE your home that may be contributing, even things inside your home? What if there are airborne chemicals in your home that are making your child’s symptoms worse?
Sometimes the very things used to keep homes free of harmful bacteria, dirt and grime, inadvertently expose homeowners and their families to far more significant health problems. Cleaners, deodorizers, and detergents that aren’t 100% natural can contain toxic elements. When released into the air in your home, these toxins can cause irritation, especially for those who already suffer from asthma or allergies.
For years, household cleaning supplies and general-use products have played a vital and necessary role in our homes. But do these toxins, also called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, really make children’s asthma and allergy symptoms worse?
People in industrialized nations spend most of their time indoors. This would seem to be safer, especially in areas where pollution and smog affect the quality of outdoor air. But according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that may not be the case.
“In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.” – EPA.org
In fact, it has been observed that the presence of VOCs in indoor environments like homes and offices are a staggering 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels. The EPA calls indoor air pollution the nation’s number one environmental health problem. And worst of all, the most vulnerable – the young, elderly, and those with weakened immune problems and chemical sensitivities are most at risk. This leads us to the following questions:
- What are we unknowingly exposing our families to?
- Where do these toxins come from?
- What are the effects of VOCs on allergy and asthma sufferers?
- What can homeowners do to protect themselves from VOCs?
What are VOCs?
As mentioned above, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are compounds that easily become vapours or gasses at room temperature.
Where do VOCs come from?
VOCs are found in many commonly used household products like detergents, wood preservatives, fabrics, air fresheners, furnishings and floor and wall coverings. VOCs are also released from burning fuel such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas – even candles – and are also found in a large variety of synthetic materials and furnishings. Formaldehyde, one of the best-known VOCs, is present in paint and many building materials. Even personal care products such as perfumes and other toiletries also harbour VOCs.
And although you can see the effects of VOCs in the air outside in the form of smog, indoors VOCs are invisible and often odourless, meaning we’re inhaling toxins on a daily basis.
What are the effects of VOCs on allergy and asthma sufferers?
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood in the developed world. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 6.2 million children in the U.S. have asthma (January 2018). This has led to a significant burden on the health services of industrialised countries and a potential threat to the health services of developing countries. This health crisis has led to extensive research into the causes of this spike in childhood asthma and allergies.
Since the early 1960s, there has been a dramatic increase in asthma and allergic disorders among children. Much of this can be attributed to the use of more efficient insulation methods, resulting in less ventilated spaces in homes. Products containing VOCs are also used more and in greater quantities, exacerbating the issue.
This is an increasing cause for concern for people, especially children, who spend most of their time indoors. According to scientific research, there appears to be an association between ambient concentrations of VOCs and asthma in children aged 7–13 years old. A strong likelihood exists that asthma symptoms begin to occur during infancy, as babies spend most of their time indoors.
Research published in Scientific American in 2010 based on a scientific study conducted by Harvard University claims that children who sleep in bedrooms containing fumes from water-based paints and solvents are 2-4 times more likely to suffer allergies or asthma. Further findings showed that in the instance of children who have nasal allergies, the concentration of VOCs in their bedrooms was twice as high as concentrations found in the rooms of the children who displayed no symptoms.
Information published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science suggests that children are potentially more susceptible to adverse effects than adults, as their immune and neurological systems are still developing. They’re also affected by different sources and through different means than adults and tend to have a greater intake of air, food, beverages, soil, and dust particles in relation to their body weight and surface area.
What can homeowners do to protect themselves and their families from VOCs?
It is nearly impossible to completely avoid exposure to VOCs, as they are found in many products necessary to modern daily life. Fortunately, there are preventative measures people can take to minimize toxins exposure to toxins that aggravate asthma and allergies in children.
- First of all, avoid smoking indoors and use environmentally-friendly personal care and cleaning products.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows, introducing plants that absorb the pollutants, and removal of scented candles and potpourri.
- Invest in a high-quality air quality system like the EnviroKlenz Mobile Air System, which removes and neutralises VOCs, malodors and fragrances. This air system uses a two-step filtration system that’s 100% toxin-free and 100% effective! This very effective means of purifying the air in your home utilizes hospital-grade technology to provide maximum air cleaning efficiency for your home and office. It combines certified HEPA filtration along with the patented EnviroKlenz Air Cartridge to remove airborne pollen, dust, odours, mould, gasses, fragrance, VOCs, allergens, bacteria, and more.