Sources of chemical pollutants include direct use of chemical based products like laquers, varnishes, cleaning products and aerosol cans as well as off gassing form materials. Offgassing is a form of evaporation which occurs with solid materials. Many manufactured materials contain chemicals which are not stable and these are slowly released into the surrounding air. Pressed wood products, plastics, vinyls and adhesives are common sources of chemical offgassing. Because these contaminants are in a gaseous form they too pass through the thin membranes of your lungs into your bloodstream. From here they circulate throughout your body to your brain, liver, kidneys and other organs. Only 30% of the contaminants inhaled are again exhaled - the remaining 70% must be broken down by your liver or otherwise dealt with by your body.
The resting adult breathes 10,000 to 20,000 litres of air daily. Every day we breathe a largely unknown and unmeasurable cocktail of various chemicals in a gaseous or particle form. Sometimes these emissions are quite obvious in their odour and immediate effects. We may be alerted by a strong smell and suffer irritation of eyes, nose and throat, headaches or nausea. More often than not however, there is no ‘alerting’ odour and as a result we do not take steps to avoid the exposure. In some cases we may even relate the smell to pleasant sensations such as a new car, house or carpet not realising the effects are insidious and that over a long period such exposure may affect our health.
Chemical indoor air pollutants which have been identified as causing health problems are:
volatile organic compounds (VOC's) such as:
This problem of chemical cocktails is exacerbated by the ever-increasing number of chemicals which are introduced into the market place. Many of them have not been well studied and there is scant toxicological information available. There is even less information available on some of the older chemicals which have been around for years.