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It is important for health to keep the atmosphere in our homes as clean and healthy as possible. Surprisingly, the concentrations of hormonal pollutants (also called endocrine disruptors or EDCs) inside homes can be higher than pollution from the outside environment, as this study from the Silent Spring Institute shows.
Many structural and decorative elements can expose us to hormonal pollutants: furniture, electronic equipment, fabrics, floors and walls can release substances that alter the hormonal system into the indoor air.
The main sources of hormonal pollutants in the home are the synthetic materials used, such as PVC (releases phthalates), polycarbonate (releases bisphenol-A) and other plastics, treatments applied to surfaces to prevent burning (brominated flame retardants) and treatments non-stick and waterproofing agents (with fluorinated substances), for example.
Toxic released from furniture and surfaces accumulate in dust. In Spain, household dust has high levels of hormonal pollutants, on average 706 nanograms of phthalates and 225 nanograms of brominated fire retardants per gram; toxics that we ingest and breathe during the many hours we spend inside our homes.
This exposure is of particular concern in the case of young girls and boys who, by crawling and putting objects to their mouths, increase their exposure to hormonal contaminants. In addition, they are the most vulnerable population since some of their body systems are still in formation and their ability to eliminate toxins is less.
The negative health effects derived from exposure to endocrine disruptors, such as the development of cancer in hormone-sensitive organs (breast, prostate or thyroid), problems in neuronal development and the immune system or diabetes, are worrying enough to review the materials that surround us at home.
Choose well what you surround yourself with at home
Exposure to endocrine disruptors can be reduced with proper hygiene habits, which we already saw in this post. And also, you can go a step further and gradually renovate your home using healthy options that do not release more pollutants.
“It is possible to reduce and even avoid the presence of hormonal pollutants in our habitat; it's a matter of taking care of the interior finishing materials and equipment that exist in our homes and workplaces ”.
This is the opinion of the bioarchitects, Mikel Martínez de Morentín and Silvia de Santos, who provide the following specific advice on materials free of hormonal contaminants on their blog.
The best advice: avoid synthetic materials!
From floor to ceiling, bioarchitects recommend the following materials:
Natural flooring: A recommended material is natural linoleum, made with flax oil mixed with wood flour or cork powder. Also lime, earth or plaster soils. Avoid PVC that releases pollutants such as phthalates and dioxins (the latter in case of fire).
Tiles: It is recommended to use terracotta, hydraulic or natural stone tiles. Conversely, old tiles may contain toxic lead or cadmium.
Better wood than carpet: Carpets are a source of hormonal pollutants both for their materials (such as PVC) and for fixing adhesives, flame retardants and perfluorinated substances.
Choose natural varnishes and treatments over polyurethane varnishes, mineral oils, polishes, or glues.
For the walls, use natural paints: lime, silicate, clay, or casein with natural pigment additives. Synthetic paints, varnishes, and lacquers can release volatile toxics into indoor air that pollute the air for months and even years.
Insulation materials such as wood fiber, cork, straw, hemp are a good alternative to styrene and polyurethane insulation, both substances that release hormonal pollutants.
Choose solid wood furniture, trilayer boards or plywood: chipboard furniture is not recommended, which uses toxic glues as well as flame retardants and pesticide treatments. Apply treatments to the wood with waxes, linseed oil and natural varnish.
Upholstery: the healthiest textile materials are those made of natural fibers such as hemp, linen, silk, sisal, cotton or kapok.
Electronic material: Electronic equipment has flame retardant treatments with substances that can be endocrine disruptors, such as PBDEs. In addition, being made of plastic, they release plasticizers such as phthalates (see study on the presence of EDCs in video game controllers). It is recommended to choose equipment that, at least, complies with the RoHS Directive on restrictions on the use of certain dangerous substances (Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, (PBB) (PBDE) in electrical and electronic equipment.
Wiring and lighting: use halogen-free cables and LED lighting systems or incandescent bulbs. Avoid fluorescent lamps as they pose unnecessary exposure to mercury, a powerful poison, as well as an endocrine disruptor.
In addition to these choices, a simple tip to reduce indoor pollution is to ventilate your home twice a day.
Free of Hormonal Contaminants