Beware of cancer friendly pollutants at home!

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How do you rid your house of the pollutants found in adhesives, paints, floor, wall and ceiling coverings, furniture and treated and natural woods, etc? Volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) are everywhere! In particular, the most toxic of all – formaldehyde – which is known to cause cancer.

According to a European Commission Directive, Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include a wide range of substances. They all contain carbon, along with one or more other substances such as hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur, phosphorus, etc.

ANSES (the French National Agency on Food Safety, Environment and Workplace Security) tells us that “because of their volatility, these compounds spread to varying distances from their point of emission, thus having a direct and indirect impact on people. Some of these compounds alter the chemical composition of the ambient air. They are then considered to be pollutants.”

Their established or suspected effects vary. “As a precaution”, ANSES warns, “it is advisable for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children and the elderly to avoid exposure to high levels of VOCs.”

To protect those most at risk it is important to read product labels carefully. In fact, since 2007, it has been obligatory for paint manufacturers to indicate the presence of VOCs in their products.

But, as a general rule, it is better to choose paints that do not contain solvents. And when it comes to furniture, solid, untreated wood, free from adhesives, paint or varnish, is best.

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