Thursday, April 15, 2010

Common Cleaning Chemicals Make Breathing Harder

Common Cleaning Chemicals Make Breathing Harder
A small study finds indoor air pollution from everyday products impairs breathing in older people.

Snuff out paraffin candles for good; instead, use beeswax or soy. And use white vinegar instead of harsh cleaners.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that thousands of common household items, including many cleaners, candes, paints, glues, printer ink, pesticides, and vinyl flooring, are releasing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into your indoor air, posing a number of health problems. And a new study looking at the effects on the elderly suggests these irritating chemicals are actually decreasing their ability to breathe, worsening living conditions for those with heart disease or lung ailments.

THE DETAILS: The small study looked at 154 people 60 years old or older who lived at home but spent their days at senior centers. The participants performed up to eight spirometric tests, designed to measure the amount and force with which people exhale and inhale. The tests are commonly used in evaluating asthma and other lung diseases.

Researchers also used urine samples to detect levels of VOC breakdown substances—chemicals indicating the presence of VOCs in the body—and tested for oxidative stress markers that indicate cellular damage. They found that when metabolites of the VOCs toluene and xylene were present, there were significant decreases in lung functioning and increases in oxidative stress, which can damage cells, tissues, and organs. The authors conclude that toluene and xylene create a harmful effect on lung function by worsening oxidative stress in elderly people.

WHAT IT MEANS: Many studies focus on the harmful effects of VOCs in occupational settings, but this is one of the first looking at health effects of VOC exposure during everyday living. And while the researchers only looked at older adults, there are good reasons for all of us to keep products that contain VOCs out of our homes. According to the EPA, the health effects associated with VOC exposure can vary greatly depending on the compound. Some short-term effects include asthma attacks, allergic skin reactions, dizziness, and headaches. There hasn't been much research looking at long-term effects of VOC exposure in the home setting.

Here's how to cut indoor air pollution in your home, no matter what your age.

• Don't let your paint leave you panting. Finding low- or no-VOC paint is easier than ever, with different brands available at many local hardware stores and national chains. So choose these options over regular paint. But always remember to ventilate while painting, no matter what type of paint you use.

• Can scented candles. Last year at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting, University of South Carolina State researchers unveiled new research that found burning petroleum, or paraffin, candles (the most common kind) emitted carcinogenic chemicals like the VOC toluene and the carcinogen benzene, the same pollution that comes out of tailpipes. On the flip side, soy-based candles did not.

Please read the full article:

Share this on Facebook: Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails