Have you ever considered the airborne chemicals found in your home? Because we clean with eco-friendly cleaners, I had thought this wasn’t an issue I had to deal with. I was surprised to learn that there are still quite a few airborne chemicals found in your home that come from things like your furniture, floors, carpet, traffic, and even your beauty products. The fact is that there are many products found in our homes that give off VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and how much you can smell them has nothing to do with how many are in your home. A product was provided, but the story is my own.
10 Startling Airborne Chemicals Found in Your Home
Do cleaning products and disinfectants lead to a healthier home? Some families say yes, but what many don’t realize is that airborne chemicals from a range of household products—soaps, detergents, perfumes, cleaning supplies, and even building materials like paint and varnishes—can linger in the home. These chemicals emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In fact, there may be up to 300 different VOCs found in indoor air.* The makers of Honeywell® Air Purifiers have partnered with a team of environmental health scientists to release a list of the top 10 most common VOCs found in American households along with an online checklist to help with remediation.
“Human exposure to VOCs occurs predominately through inhalation of contaminated air, particularly indoor air—and this exposure is often increased from the use of household cleaning and personal care products. Newer homes designed to be more energy-efficient often exacerbate this issue by restricting airflow with outside air and trapping airborne chemicals indoors,” said Dr. Ted Myatt, ScD. “Many household VOCs have known toxicities and can be associated with headaches and irritation of the eye, nose, and throat.”
After checking out the online checklist above, I was surprised to find out that my home probably contains acetone, xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde! Yikes! Here is the complete list for you so you can learn more:
- Formaldehyde – Released by various off-gassing sources such as wood-based building materials including particleboard, fiberboard, floor lacquers and certain molded plastics as well as some latex paints, varnishes, wallpapers, cardboard and paper products.
- Terpenes (pinene and limonene) – Released by consumer products with a fragrance such as cleaning products, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, hand sanitizers, personal care products, baby shampoo, and soaps.
- Ethanol – Released by household cleaning agents such as glass cleaners, dishwashing and laundry detergent, disinfectants, fabric softeners, and deodorizers.
- Dichlorobenzene – Released by deodorizers and mothballs. Like terpenes, Dichlorobenzene is rarely found in outdoor air samples, indicating the source is predominantly from indoor consumer goods.
- Benzene – Released by gasoline combustion and some paints. Indoor levels can be impacted by an attached garage and outdoor sources such as traffic, coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources. The EPA has classified benzene as a known human carcinogen.
- Toluene – Released by paints or gasoline solvents. Indoor levels are associated with attached garages and emissions from idling vehicles.
- Acetone – Released from nail polish remover, oil paint, furniture polish, wallpaper and carpet glues.
- Carbon disulfide – Released by chlorinated tap water for drinking, washing dishes, clothing or showering. Use of chlorinated water and bleach containing products also result in increased levels of chloroform.
- Butanal – Released by tobacco smoking and other indoor combustion sources such as cooking stoves, candle burning, and barbecues using charcoal or wood.
- Xylene – Released by vehicles, either traffic emissions or vehicles idling in an attached garage or nearby.
In addition to reducing the number of chemicals we use in our home, another way to reduce VOCs is to use an air purifier like the Honeywell QuietClean Air Purifier and Honeywell AirGenius Air Purifier. They feature carbon pre-filters that help to reduce odors and absorb VOCs, as well as trap larger particles such as dust, lint, fibers, and pet fur through a HEPA or ifD® filtration process. Specific units, like the Honeywell Bluetooth® Smart True HEPA Air Purifier, have a sensor that detects VOCs, alerts the homeowner, and auto adjusts cleaning needs based on VOC levels detected in the room.
The Honeywell QuietClean Air Purifier captures up to 99% of allergens and pollutants. It uses a permanent ifD filter and optional odor reducing pre-filter you can get for your air purifier that helps capture larger airborne particles as well as absorb odors and VOCs. The permanent ifD filter is washable and re-usable. The optional odor reducing pre-filter is not. For those of us that are forgetful, there is an electronic filter clean reminder light that reminds you when to check and clean the washable ifD filter and washable pre-filter based on the air purifiers hours of use.
You can have the air purifer oscillate (turn) if you want or leave it in one position. It also has the option to dim the LED display on the control panel if you want which you may find helpful if you have it in a bedroom. This air purifier has earned the ENERGY STAR rating so I don’t worry about the impact it has on my electric bill.
I was initially concerned that I’d be able to hear the air purifier over the television, but it’s so quiet that I don’t even notice it’s on. Since it’s only about 20 feet away from my desk, that definitely says a lot!
If you’re concerned about the airborne chemicals found in your home, I recommend the Honeywell QuietClean Air Purifier. Check out the infographic below and then enter to win your own.
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