Harmful chemicals in a home – what are they, where are they found, what can people do?

There are six major groups of chemicals commonly found in homes and impacting families’ lives. While these groups don’t encompass all concerning chemicals, they are prevalent in household and consumer goods. It’s important to work with someone like SENERGY360 to recognize where these chemicals are found. 

  • Highly Fluorinated Chemicals (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS) – toxic and found in over 3000 products and materials in home building and furnishings. 
  • Antimicrobials – are finishes and additives to fixtures and paints. They are known to have harmful chemicals that resist bacteria. Avoid using products that have antimicrobials in them. 
  • Flame Retardants – such as organohalogens and organophosphate chemicals, including chlorinated tris (TDCPP) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), are commonly used in insulation, carpeting, fabrics, furnishings, and various building products. It’s advisable to check for these labels and steer clear of products containing them. Numerous safer alternatives have been tested to burn at similar rates. 
  • Bisphenols and Phthalates – both of these chemicals are added to plastics to create desirable characteristics. They are referred to collectively as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC). You increase your chances of exposure when using cheap building practices using plastics for building and furnishings. Use materials that are minimally processed and natural. Also read your labels when selecting building materials and home decor.
  • Solvents – solvents are a group of chemicals that can dissolve or disperse another substance when combined. They are found in almost everything. Many companies now offer safer forms of solvents. They are found in plastics, glues, adhesives, and mortars. Again know your source and request non-VOC solvents. They do exist.
  • Metals – in the home, lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium are highly toxic, though they are naturally occurring elements in the earth. When selecting materials for your home, it’s crucial to consider the presence of metals. Ensure that they meet the minimum safety levels and assess where these metals are used, taking into account the potential exposure to them.

There are many other forms of chemicals not listed here such as external environmental chemicals such as biocides, fungicides, pesticides that fill our air. This is another good reason to filter outside air particulates. Also, don’t over overlook household cleaning chemicals and be sure to always store household chemicals outside the home in a well-ventilated area.