Dr. William Rae, MD, Director of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, suggests that our bodies are like a rain barrel. Every day we dump in pollutants in the form of the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Some of the pollutants are stored in our body’s adipose (fat) tissue, while some is used for energy, and the rest is expelled. Each person has a different threshold for tolerating pollutants in our environment, or using Dr. Rae’s analogy, a different size barrel. Over time, if that barrel becomes full, as toxins accumulate in our bodies, it will “overflow” and the result will be allergic reactions or hyper-sensitivity to environmental chemicals.
Every finish in a home should be carefully considered for its health consequences. Let’s look at paint as one example: Many available paints contain chemicals that are listed as Hazardous Air Pollutants with the EPA. Although initial clean air regulations were enacted as early as the late 18th century during the Industrial Revolution, it was only in 1955 that the need for a National Air Pollution Control Act was realized. The Clean Air Act, as it is called since 1963, covers a wide range of air pollutants that contaminate outdoor as well as indoor air. Since volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contribute greatly to ground-level ozone, which is a major component of smog, the EPA sets VOC emission guidelines for consumer products, architectural coatings and automobile refinish coatings. VOC content of flat coatings is limited to 250 g/l therein. However After a fresh paint application, indoor VOC levels can increase up to 1,000 times compared to outdoor levels.
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