Breaking NEWS: How VOCs could be destroying your health, while you sleep
(NaturalHealth365) Have you ever heard of VOCs? No, they’re not some knock-off brand of colorful plastic shoes named after a crocodile. VOCs are “volatile organic compounds” that can cause a number of unwanted health effects. You may have never even heard of VOCs before – but your home is a major source of exposure to them, if you’re not careful. (keep reading for solutions.)
Today, we feature a breaking study published in Environmental Science and Technology – which reveals just how prevalent these harmful chemicals are in mattresses – and how a sound night’s sleep could be dangerously increasing your exposure.
Health WARNING: Surprising amount of toxic VOCs are being released from your bed – while you sleep
Whether you own or rent your home, you probably think of many ways to protect your family against harmful environmental and household agents, such as harsh cleaning chemicals, mold, and poor air quality, to name a few. But did you realize that even your couch and mattress could be posing a serious hazard to your health, too?
This is because conventionally-manufactured furniture, including couches, mattresses, and chairs, all contain VOCs. These are chemicals that vaporize and emit harmful gases into the air which can cause negative health effects from both short-term and long-term exposure.
Reported effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent coughing
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Confusion and memory loss
- Skin, nose, and throat irritation
- Respiratory tract infections
- Eye infections and vision problems
More serious consequences that occur from long-term exposure to certain VOCs – such as radon, benzene, and formaldehyde – may include asthma, seizures, personality changes, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, neurological dysfunction, and even cancer.
Keep in mind that these effects can impact adults, children, infants, and even unborn children, as found in a large 2011 study involving over 1,500 pregnant women. The researchers from the Korean Ministry of Environment found that a higher exposure to VOCs was strongly associated with ‘small for gestational age babies,’ a phenomenon associated with problems like breathing difficulties, decreased oxygen, low blood sugar, and impaired body temperature regulation.
Now, in the aforementioned Environmental Science and Technology study (whose abstract is not yet available at the time of this writing), researchers simulated sleeping conditions on a select sample of youth, toddler, and infant mattresses made with polyurethane (standard fare at the mattress shop). Then they measured the amount of VOCs emitted.
Important to note: The researchers found that “most [VOC measurements] were well below the cancer and non-cancer risk reference levels. However, for infants and young children, inhalation of some compounds…could reach levels of concern.”
The higher inhalation of VOCs during sleep is believed to occur because people tend to have 1) increased body temperature, 2) close proximity to the compounds, and 3) poorly ventilated bedrooms.
What are we tucking our children into?
By the way it’s not just what you sit or sleep on. Ovens, drapes, blinds, adhesives, moth balls, air fresheners, heating systems, electronics, paint, varnish, carpets, rugs, and even wooden floors all have VOCs. You’re likely surrounded by them – at home and at work.
4 ways to protect yourself from the dangers of VOCs
VOCs are so prevalent in everyday life that it almost seems impossible to avoid them. But there is hope – providing you take action!
Here are a few things you can do:
- Get a high-quality, indoor air purification system. We, at NaturalHealth365, support the use of this unit. (Jonathan personally uses several – in his home and office areas.)
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide and radon detectors in your home, and get your house tested for harmful chemicals with an HVAC expert in your area.
- Improve your ventilation, which can include natural strategies like growing indoor plants and using essential oil diffusers. (instead of conventional air fresheners or candles)
- Consider purchasing non-toxic and/or organic furniture – and at the very least commit to using non-toxic household cleaners.
The bottom line: it’s important to recognize that we live in a toxic world. But, for every problem – there is a solution. Take action today to protect the health of yourself and your family. It’s worth the effort.
Sources for this article include: