It’s all very well looking after yourself with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, but have you ever thought about the hidden toxins lurking in your home? With the average person spending 80% of time indoors, we decided it was time to give our homes a detox.
Many cooks prefer gas cooktops for their quick start, constant flame and ability to cook food more evenly, but gas appliances, especially if not vented properly, can emit potentially hazardous chemicals such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Make sure you get your gas appliances serviced regularly and if your oven allows it, leave your grill door open when cooking as this allows oxygen in, preventing the build-up of harmful carbon monoxide gases.
Non-stick cooking pans make clean-up a breeze, but when their surfaces are heated to high temperatures or they become scratched and pieces of the coating flake off into your food, they can pose health risks. To be on the safer side, avoid using non-stick pans that contain PFOA and replace them once the coating shows signs of coming off.
Plastic containers and plastic wrap are convenient for storing food but when placed in the microwave and heated, they have the potential to leak bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates into food, especially if the food has a higher fat content. Instead of using plastic, heat your food in glass or ceramic dishes marked ‘heatproof’ or ‘microwave-safe’ or even better for your health – ditch the microwave! It took us a while to find these Ikea ones but they’re ideal and Lee and Daniel use them daily when prepping their lunches to take to the office.
Air fresheners are a quick way to get rid of bad smells, but they are one of the most concentrated sources of pollution in the home - even so-called ‘green’ and ‘organic’ fresheners! Many air fresheners are filled with harmful toxins including benzene, toluene, terpenes and phthalates which are not great for your health.
Instead of using air fresheners, eliminate bad smells at the source by keeping your home well ventilated. At Together, Bob decked out our offices with houseplants like English Ivy, spider plants and peace lilies which help to remove unpleasant odours while also absorbing computer radiation and purifying the air. We also love using non-toxic, natural, home-fragrance products such as reed diffusers and scented candles – which smell divine and help us relax when we’re feeling stressed. We’re big fans of Neom who are based in Harrogate just down the road from the office.
Many cleaning products are filled with harmful chemicals that include skin irritants, hormone disruptors and carcinogens.
We’ve swapped our regular cleaning products for ones made from safer, natural ingredients like Bio-D, Ecover and in particular Method (we’re partial to their pretty coloured labels). We also love a bit of DIY - a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water makes a great glass cleaner!
Paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can 'outgas' for months or even years after painting, which means you are constantly breathing them in. Research suggests products like soap and paints emit significant quantities of petroleum-based chemicals, rivalling cars and other vehicles as the top source of urban air pollution.
When one of the team, Phil, recently completely redecorated his house he went for Earthborn paint who have very cool colours and are doing their best to keep VOCs to a minimum. Stylish and safe 😁.
Did you know a wood stove emits more harmful air particulates than a diesel truck? Indoor pollutant emissions from wood-burning stoves can be emitted into the indoor environment during starting, stoking, and reloading operations, or they can be emitted continuously if a leak or crack exists in the stove or its vent system. That’s why it’s essential to check your wood-burner regularly to ensure all seals and cracks are repaired and that wood is burned at optimal temperatures. You can check if your wood-burner has a problem with one of these little NOKLEAD devices that Daniel found.
Carpets typically contain over 100 chemicals in their fibre-bonding materials, dyes, backing glues, latex binders, fungicides, and antistatic, fire-retardant and stain-resistant treatments, including VOCs, which can outgas for years.
Carpets also act like sinks for heavy metals and pesticides, and trap pollutants such as dust mites, pet dander, mould spores, dirt and dust.
When Phil redecorated his house, he went for wood floors combined with loose rugs for comfort downstairs and a wool carpet upstairs that was not treated with an anti-stain treatment or pesticides. It’s a good idea to make sure any new furniture is untreated too.
Since house dust is a major source of indoor pollution, it’s important to vacuum regularly. When Daniel, our resident tech expert, discovered that there was a hi-tech solution to this he got a little excited and splashed out on a Robot vacuum from Anker (Eufy robovac). It does a great job as it wanders around the room, even though it's constantly bumping its head on the furniture.
While we’re on the subject of tech… we’ve also invested in air purifiers (more tech - woohoo!) as an extra safeguard. Between us, Lee has the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool which is amazing but pricey (it even tells you when your house needs a cleanse and will automatically turn itself on when levels of VOCs are high!) and a few of us are using the Levoit air purifier.