Furniture, mattresses, kitchen utensils, paintings… Beware of interior poisons

To preserve the health of the members of your household, you make sure to eat organic and balanced foods, limit the use of chemical household products and favor natural alternatives as much as possible… But what if the danger was hidden elsewhere?

Now pointed out by the medical profession, our furniture, our paints, home fragrances, utensils, food containers and textiles may contain toxic substances likely to cause cancer, infertility problems, serious respiratory disorders and congenital malformations.

Particle boards, a source of pollution

In order to save money on furniture without sacrificing design, you have purchased a new piece of furniture in composite wood kit, also known as chipboard, melamine wood or particle board. This one is made from wood shavings held together with glue. However, it contains formaldehyde, a volatile irritant gas classified as carcinogenic by the International Center for the Fight against Cancer.

Indeed, high exposure to formaldehyde can cause asthmatic disorders, chronic bronchitis and even, in the most extreme cases, nasal-pharyngeal cancers. Although it is not very harmful in small quantities, the actual emission doses very frequently exceed the levels recommended by the health authorities. In particular, it can pose a real threat to future mothers and children.

The suspicious smell of new furniture may alert you to the presence of formaldehyde, but it is only an indicator of danger. In order to protect yourself from the harmful effects of this substance, consider systematically ventilating the room when assembling a piece of chipboard furniture and in the few days following its purchase.

Flame retardants, health scourges

Present in the vast majority of interior textiles, from curtains to carpets, including mattresses, upholstered fabric furniture, rugs and sheets, polybrominated compounds, more generally referred to as “retardants of flame”, are intended to fireproof the fabrics in order to slow down the progression of a possible domestic fire. However, according to a report by ANSES, these products act as endocrine disruptors. By disrupting the hormonal system, they would be the cause of congenital malformations, a drop in the intelligence quotient in the fetus, neurological and behavioral disorders, a decrease in fertility, growth retardation and serious problems of sleep. Pregnant women must therefore be particularly vigilant because these toxic flame retardant compounds are able to cross the placental barrier. Worse still: if their damage to health is proven, on the other hand, their effectiveness against fires would be inconclusive, ANSES reporting lack of demonstrated benefits”.

If today they are gradually abandoned or even banned in Europe, beware of your old foam mattresses and upholstered furniture or products imported from the United States or Asia. If in doubt, it is better to get rid of it, especially in children’s rooms.

Panic in the kitchen

To be in good shape, you pay attention to your diet, but what utensils used to prepare and store your meals? If non-stick pans allow us to cook without adding fat, their Teflon coating contains perfluorinated compounds which, when heated, prove to be carcinogenic. For more safety, we will therefore preferably turn to cast iron or ceramic cookware. Now banned by regulations, bisphenol A is also found in many plastics and in particular, in old food storage boxes. It is therefore likely to contaminate food, especially if heated, for example in a microwave, and can harm the reproductive, immune and reproductive systems, even in small quantities. To avoid ingesting this known endocrine disruptor, discard your old plastic boxes and replace them with glass containers.

Finally, the aluminum foil used to cook food en papillote can release molecules harmful to the brain; it is therefore substituted with parchment paper.

A scent of scandal

To embalm your home or get rid of bad smells, do you frequently light scented candles or spray air fresheners? Unfortunately, these are not without risks. Indeed, candles are mainly composed of polluting products which, when burning, can create respiratory problems. Ditto for deodorants, sanitizing sprays and air purifiers, which are potentially irritating and allergenic. If you really can’t live without them, ventilate your room for at least 15 minutes after using these products.

Nature paintings

Formerly extremely harmful, paints are now much healthier thanks to more restrictive legislation and the introduction of labeling with a classification ranging from A + to C according to their harmfulness, which facilitates legibility for the consumer. However, old paints may continue to emit toxic volatile compounds after several years. The solution ? Sand the walls, wash, clean all dust residues (always remembering to ventilate the place where you do this work) and apply one or two coats of depolluting paint.

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