To preserve the health of the members of your household, you make sure to eat organic and balanced foods, limit the use of chemical household products and favor natural alternatives as much as possible… But what if the danger was hidden elsewhere?
Now singled out by the medical profession, our furniture, paints, interior fragrances, utensils, food containers and textiles may contain toxic substances liable to cause cancer, infertility problems, serious respiratory disorders and birth defects.
Particle boards, a source of pollution
In order to save on furniture without compromising on design, you have purchased a new piece of furniture in composite wood kit, also known as chipboard, melamine wood or particle board. This is made from wood chips bonded together with glue. However, it contains formaldehyde, a volatile irritant gas classified as carcinogenic by the International Cancer Center.
Indeed, a strong exposure to formaldehyde can cause asthmatic disorders, chronic bronchitis and even, in the most extreme cases, nasal-pharyngeal cancers. If it is not very harmful in small quantities, the actual emission doses very often exceed the levels recommended by the health authorities. In particular, it can represent a real threat to future mothers and children.
The suspicious smell of new furniture can alert you to the presence of formaldehyde, but it is only an indicator of the danger. In order to protect yourself from the harmful effects of this substance, remember to systematically ventilate the room when assembling chipboard furniture and in the few days following its purchase.
Flame retardants, health scourges
Present in the vast majority of interior textiles, from curtains to carpets, including mattresses, upholstered fabric furniture, rugs or even sheets, polybrominated compounds, more generally referred to as “retardants flame ”, are intended to flame retardant fabrics in order to slow the progression of a possible domestic fire. However, according to an ANSES report, these products act as endocrine disruptors. By disrupting the hormonal system, they are said to be the cause of congenital malformations, a decrease in the intelligence quotient in the fetus, neurological and behavioral disorders, a decrease in fertility, growth retardation and serious problems of sleep. Pregnant women should therefore be particularly vigilant because these toxic flame retardant compounds are able to cross the placental barrier. Worse still: if their damage to health is proven, on the other hand, their effectiveness against fires would be inconclusive, ANSES noting « an absence of demonstrated benefits ”.
If today they are gradually abandoned or even banned in Europe, beware of your old foam mattresses and upholstered furniture or products imported from the United States or Asia. If in doubt, it is better to relieve yourself of it, especially in children’s rooms.
Panic in the kitchen
To be in good shape, you pay attention to your diet, but quid utensils used to prepare and store your meals? If non-stick pans allow us to cook without adding fat, their Teflon coating contains perfluorinated compounds which, when heated, prove to be carcinogenic. For more security, we will therefore preferably turn to cast iron or ceramic cookware. Today banned by regulations, bisphenol A is also found in many plastics and in particular, in old food storage boxes. It is therefore likely to contaminate food, especially if it is heated, for example in a microwave, and can harm the reproductive, immune and reproductive systems, even in small amounts. To avoid ingesting this recognized endocrine disruptor, discard your old plastic boxes and replace them with glass containers.
Finally, the aluminum foil used to cook food in foil can release harmful molecules to the brain; we therefore substitute parchment paper.
A scent of scandal
To embalm your home or get rid of bad smells, do you frequently light scented candles or spray deodorants? Unfortunately, these are not without risks. In fact, candles are mainly composed of polluting products which, by burning, can create respiratory problems. Ditto for deodorants, sanitizing sprays and air purifiers, which are potentially irritating and allergenic. If you really can’t do without them, ventilate your room for at least 15 minutes after using these products.
Formerly extremely harmful, paints are now much healthier thanks to more restrictive legislation and the introduction of labeling with a classification ranging from A + to C according to their harmfulness, which facilitates readability for the consumer. However, older paints may continue to emit toxic volatile compounds after several years. The solution ? Sand the walls, wash, clean all dust residue (always remembering to ventilate the area where you do this work) and apply one or two coats of depolluting paint.