Do You Have Chemicals in Your Air?

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May 14, 2017

You may have noticed your Awair or Glow has been detecting higher levels of “Chemicals ” in your air than you expected. You aren’t alone--many people are shocked to see that they have chemicals in their air in the first place. We often assume our air is completely safe if our carbon monoxide detector or fire alarm aren’t ringing, but this isn’t always the case.

The chemicals that Awair and Glow track are commonly referred to as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are chemicals that evaporate easily and can find their way into your lungs, causing a variety of health problems. Popular VOCs include Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Acetone. Since they’re typically odorless and colorless, many of us have no idea we’re living with them, or worse, unintentionally creating more in our homes.

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to accidentally increase the levels of chemicals in the air in our homes—VOCs are emitted by many common building materials, products, and indoor activities. Don’t panic yet, though! You can easily make a few small changes to help keep VOCs at bay just by asking yourself a few quick questions...

1. Have you redecorated recently?

If you’ve updated the look of your bedroom, living room, or nursery recently, there is a high chance you’ll have an increase in VOCs in your air. Fresh paint is especially notorious for adding chemicals to your air — VOCs will off-gas from newly painted walls and furniture for months. Opt for VOC-free paint next time, or seal your current paint with a non-toxic topcoat. Leftover cans of paint also produce VOCs — remember to store them in your garage or a well-ventilated room!

New furniture — especially pressed wood furniture — will off-gas chemicals into your air, as well. Let new furniture air out outside for a while, or look into purchasing antiques.

2. Have you cleaned recently?

We’re know that a majority of the trusted cleaning products we use to keep our home germ-free contain chemicals, but many of us assume they’re only dangerous if we accidentally swallow or make direct contact with them. The truth is, most common cleaning products contain VOCs that will linger in your air long after you’ve finished cleaning.

There are plenty of great alternatives to cleaning with chemicals--we broke down our favorites here.

3. Do you burn candles or use air fresheners?

Burning candles and using air fresheners are effective at making our air smell fresh, but at a dangerous cost. When burned, scented candles release a cocktail of dangerous chemicals in the air, including benzene. The same is true for air fresheners, which are filled with phthalates, a chemical that is known to cause a variety of health problems.

To safely improve the smell of your home, try pure essential oils or open your windows.

4. Did you bring dry cleaning home?

The process of dry cleaning involves using a chemical called perchloroethylene, which has been linked to cancer. If you choose to dry clean, try to let your clothes air out before bringing them into your home.

5. Do you smoke?

Smoking cigarettes contaminates your air with VOCs (among other dangers). Try to limit smoking to outside your home.

6. Do you have a fireplace or a gas stove?

Even very common activities like burning wood in a fireplace or cooking will cause a spike in the level of VOCs in the air. Opening a few windows and running a fan will help keep the chemicals in your air at a minimum.

Awair monitors your air quality and alerts you when indoor pollution levels become unhealthy. To learn more about how Awair can help keep you and your home healthier, follow the link below.