Protect your Children: Carpet, Paint and Other Hazards
Toxins that Linger in Your Child’s Room
Is your baby or young child suffering from asthma, undiagnosed fatigue, itchy eyes, headaches or excess crankiness that the doctor can’t diagnose? Are you suffering from any of these maladies? It may be due to indoor air pollution. Let’s take a look at the toxic output of some products commonly found in the nursery or child’s room. Keep in mind that babies and young children are at a higher risk to these ailments due to their size and undeveloped lungs and organs.
Since we seldom open windows to flush out stale air, it gets trapped inside a home where it can be three times more polluted than outdoor air. The EPA considers poor home indoor air pollution to be one of the top 5 health hazards to humans. Paints, finishes, carpeting and fabric furniture are the highest ranking culprits because it takes years for their gasses to dissipate. In the meantime the off-gassing produced by these fumes combines with other fumes in your home to produce even worse toxins.
All of these products emit harmful vapors called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. They cause a long list of ailments including headaches, eye irritation, allergic skin reactions, dizziness, loss of coordination, nausea, asthma and fatigue. Long-term exposure can cause issues with the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, various cancers, dementia and male reproductive organs. These vapors pose a higher risk for pregnant women, young children, people with respiratory ailments, and individuals such as commercial painters and carpet installers.
PAINTS: Oil and latex paint contain ethylene, toluene, xylene, acetone, and methylene chloride. Additionally, preservatives and pesticides are added to paint to kill mildew and bacteria adding to the already long list of health issues.
CARPET: There are over 100 chemicals that go into making carpet including stain and fire retardants, petroleum by-products, artificial dyes, anti-static sprays, moth proofing, formaldehyde, latex, vinyl and synthetics. There are recorded cases of young babies being placed on newly installed carpet who have gone into seizures and died.
VINYL AND PLASTIC: The vinyl and plastic in your baby’s bed contains Polyvinyl chloride or PVE and is a known carcinogenetic. The plasticizers often found in these products cause respiratory problems.
FABRIC FURNITURE and bedding often contain toxic halogenated fire retardants that are absorbed directly into the skin when contact is made with furniture or bedding. They cause cancer and hormone disruptions as well as respiratory ailments. The stain retardants cause further problems with lungs and the central nervous system.
Let’s take a look at some alternative safe solutions for not just baby’s room but your entire home.
Non-Toxic and Natural Paints are as safe as paint gets. A few manufactures are:
• Bio Shield (www.bioshieldpaint.com)
• Livos (www.livos.us)
• Auro (www.aurousa.com)
• Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company (www.milkpaint.com)
Green Paint: Make certain any paint you purchase has the Green Seal of approval or meets the Green Seal Standard GS-11. Look for paints with a VOC range of 10-25 g/L. Green Seal is 50 g/L
A few of the paints that meet Green Seal GS-11 standards (check their website for more) are:
• Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec Interior line
• Dutch Boy Clarity Interior Latex line
• Miller Paint Co. Acro Solvent Free Interior Acrylic line
• Olympic Paint and Stain Zero-VOC Olympic Premium Interior line
• PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc. Pittsburgh Paints Pure Performance line
• Rodda Paint Company Horizon Interior line
Here are a few safe strippers if you need to strip a finish or paint:
CitriStrip - from Specialty Environmental Technologies, in Auburn Hills, MI.
Woodfinisher's Pride - from W.M.Barr & Co, in Memphis, TN.
Ameristrip - from Safe Alternatives Corp, in Ridgefield, CT.
Peel Away - from Dumond Chemicals, in New York.
RemovAll and Bio-Wash - from Napier Environmental Technologies in Vancouver BC.
*NOTE: The active ingredient in these products is N-Methylpyrrolidone, an organic solvent. Rather than burning or melting, the compound chemically changes the paint itself, softening the finish to remove it. The downside? These new strippers are more expensive than their traditional counterparts, and they take longer to work.
Eco Mall www.ecomall.com is a wonderful community dedicated to Earth and Human Friendly products. They thoroughly research a company before allowing them to be a part of their “Mall.” They have listings for baby’s room including clothing and bedding.
Earth Friendly Flooring:
Don’t forget there is no better mop than Mary Moppins Best Home Mop Plus for damp mopping hard surface flooring. It’s easy to control the amount of water being used to prevent damage to flooring. Marble and granite floors must be dried. You can place a dry towel on Mary Moppins Cleaning Head to quickly dry these floors.
Research shows that bamboo flooring is very low in VOCs. Thoroughly consider bamboo before you purchase. Bamboo does come from our precious and quickly deteriorating rain forests. Dents and scratches, which happen easily, cannot be removed. This is not a floor with children and pets present in the home. Shoes must be removed at the door – no exception. Plus any section near a window or door will fade. Furniture must be moved frequently to further prevent fading.
I have found wood flooring to be the least toxic especially those with low VOC finishes. To eliminate toxic gas from adhesive have the wood floor nailed down. Laminated floors with their layers of adhesive are quite toxic inside a home even if they are easy care. Next behind wood floors is a tile floor. My Stain Eraser for Grout does an excellent job removing stains in the grout. Be sure the installer uses low VOC adhesive.
If you like vinyl floors choose linoleum instead. The selection may not be as great but your health will thank you for making a wiser choice. Make certain the sealant used on the linoleum is low VOC.
Thinking of carpeting? Avoid stain and fire retardant carpets as they emit high levels of VOCs. Stay clear of carpet made with Olefin as it is very difficult to clean. Off gassing is an issue to seriously consider with any kind of vinyl whether it be flooring or furniture. Avoid it.
Look at untreated wool carpet instead but be aware that moths do take up residence in wool carpet. You must be diligent with precautionary measures to prevent infestation.
When you purchase furniture for baby or your child, search Eco Mall for safe toxic free alternatives. They have several manufacturers listed.