How to ensure a healthy home for a great fresh start

We all love to walk into a new home and smell that fresh beginning but is it good for us? There is growing evidence the materials, finishes and products we use in our homes and furniture we covet are harmful to our health.

The main culprits are chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds. The list includes Formaldehyde, Decane, Butoxyethanol, Isopentane, Limonene, Styrene, Xylenes, Methylene, Chloride, Toluene and Vinyl chloride.

Worst offenders are furniture, paint, plaster, paint strippers, adhesives, solvents, upholstery, other textiles, bedding, carpet and building materials.

It’s not all bad - there is now a great range of products available that are ‘low-VOC’ or ‘eco-friendly’ – particularly in paints and carpets. Using natural materials can be better but not necessarily as it depends on the glues and stains that are used and interestingly, many synthetic materials have no VOC's. Ultimately, you must check the labels before deciding.

If you can’t avoid the products, you can ventilate areas with new paint, carpeting or furniture for longer time periods because VOC levels can build up again when windows are closed. Unroll new carpets or store furniture outside your home (in a shed or garage) to minimise odours before bringing them in. If that's not possible, open windows, close doors and try to stay out of rooms until odours are reduced.

For more information a good start is: http://www.yourhome.gov.au/housing/healthy-home