Off-gassing is the process that happens when the gas or VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are given off by new products in your home — everything from paint and particle boards to the carpet and foam cushions in your couch.
Many common household products contain VOCs, including furniture, mattresses, cosmetics, shoes, electronics, air fresheners and dryer sheets, nail polish remover, dry cleaning and newspapers.
That “new car smell” of new products you buy can be intoxicating but it’s also toxic! The short-term affects of off-gassing can include chronic headaches, dizziness, burning eyes and fatigue. The long-term affect, cancer, is obviously more troubling. That being said, it doesn’t mean you should never buy a new house or new products. Just be aware that there are easy ways to lessen your exposure and have cleaner indoor air.
- Look for paint with a LOW or NO VOC label, like Farrow & Ball paint.
- Ventilate your home with open windows, air filters and air purifiers.
- When you open a new product, like new shoes, put them in the sunlight outside, the heat hastens the off-gassing process. (Electronics shouldn’t be left in the heat, you can off-gas them in the garage).
- Wash new clothes several times before wearing them and try to buy untreated, organic, natural fabrics whenever possible.
- Choose green, eco-friendly furnishings when you can and wait a week before moving baby into a room with new furniture so it has time to off-gas.