Be Healthy Solutions for Total Wellness

Environmental Risks to your Health

A survey commissioned on behalf of the American Lung Association Health House program and 3M in April 2002 found that many of those questioned were not aware of the potential dangers associated with poor indoor air. With 540 homeowners nationwide responding to the survey, which has a +/- six percent margin of error, key findings were:

• More than 50 percent of Americans are not aware that poor indoor air quality is one of the top five most urgent environmental risks to public health, and nearly 25 percent of Americans are not concerned about the air quality in their homes and the impact it can have on their family’s health.
• Less than 20 percent of Americans believe that the air inside their homes is more polluted than the air outdoors, even though the EPA found that levels of air pollution inside the home can be two to five times higher — and occasionally up to 100 times higher — than outdoor levels.
• More than 70 percent of Americans have forced air heating and/or central air in their homes. Yet nearly 50 percent do not change the filter in their heating/air conditioning unit every 2 to 3 months as recommended, and 10 percent have never replaced the filter in their heating/air conditioning unit.
• Nearly 75 percent of Americans live with someone who has allergies, asthma, emphysema or another respiratory illness.

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified indoor air quality as one of the top five most urgent environmental risks to public health. Among the most common causes of indoor pollution are chemicals found in household cleaning products – the very products we think are helping keep our families safe and healthy.

EPA’s Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher – and occasionally 100 times higher – inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. According to the EPA, organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. While people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed, as well as continue the release of toxins when these products are simply being stored.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American home generates over 20 pounds of household hazardous waste every year. Cumulatively, it is a whopping 1.6 million tons – that is 3.2 billion pounds – of household hazardous waste per year, of which 176,000 tons is just from cleaning products. Those familiar, everyday cleaners, including tub, tile, shower and toilet cleaners; drain and oven cleaner; wood and metal polishes; laundry bleach and many more are designated by the EPA as household hazardous waste, and improper disposal can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health.

There are many safe solutions to protect yourself and your loved ones for a better quality of health and life.  I use as many non-toxic, environmentally-safe products as possible in my home and for personal care.  The health of many is substantially impaired and will result in impaired quality of our lives as we age.  But there are solutions to protect yourself and your family.  They are not costly and can clearly make a significant impact on your life and our environment.  Be part of the solution; not part of the problem!

Connie Clark

Be Sociable, Share!