"New" smell could be toxic chemicals - AmericaNowNews.com

"New" smell could be toxic chemicals

There's nothing like the smell of a new home or a new piece of furniture. But indoor environmental experts say there is nothing good about that smell.

This smell is created by chemicals such as acetone, benzene and formaldehyde that can pollute indoor air and affect your health, but there are things you can do to keep them out of your home.

If you walk into almost any new home, you can't help but notice that new home smell.

The aroma is distinctive and appeals to many because it usually means everything, including the wood, paint, carpeting, and appliances, is brand new.

Kathy Spence is a LEED Accredited Professional for Banister Homes in Charlotte, North Carolina. She says what you're smelling in a new home is usually chemicals.

These carbon-based chemicals are collectively called Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC's.

They're found in many of the products in a home from carpets to composite wood.  

From the paint on the wall, to the insulation inside, chemicals and solvents that create VOC's help products perform better. VOC's make paints appear brighter and last longer, and they keep your carpet glued together for lasting durability. 

"They [VOC's] can have health hazards as well," Spence warns. 

That new smell is a result of household items 'off-gassing,' or releasing VOC's into the indoor air. 

Chemical concentrations can reach up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Short-term VOC's can make asthma symptoms worse and cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, or nausea for people sensitive to chemicals.

Long-term exposure has been linked to organ damage. 
 
Composite wood, like particle board, allows contractors to build inexpensive cabinets, but it could be costing you in other ways.

"They're using adhesives that produce formaldehydes," says Mike Flores, an indoor environmental expert. 

Formaldehyde is a chemical classified as a probable carcinogen by the EPA. 

"A grass hut is chemical-free, but that doesn't mean we want to live in one," Spence says. 

While a home built under green building guidelines isn't chemical free, you can take certain steps to reduce indoor VOC's from top to bottom. 
 
If you have just purchased a brand new or recently remodeled home, builders using the US  Green Building Council's Guidelines recommend keeping the windows open for at least a week while you stay away. 
 
Ventilation lowers VOC concentration. 

"Buy furniture that's been sitting in the showroom, that way any off-gassing of VOC's may be well underway before you bring it home," Spence says. 
 
The same goes for new carpet.  

You can also buy or ask your builder to use low or no VOC paint, or formaldehyde-free insulation.

Maybe the smell of a new home or the products used in construction is exciting, but a healthy home should actually have no smell at all. 


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