Sources of Indoor Pollution

Create a Safe and Healthy Home

aka "Indoor Pollution - know your A.B.C's."

by Dr. Joyce M. Woods.

who worked as a medical/surgical nurse, public health nurse, nurse educator, nursing school administrator, occupational health consultant. She holds Bachelors of Nursing, Bachelors of Arts (Specialist), Masters of Education degrees, and has completed her doctoral degree in the area of Indoor Air Pollution, and ...it's effect on your health.


If the information on this page alarms you - please visit our household tips page to learn what you can do to minimise the toxic pollution in your living environment.



Sources of indoor pollution


A. Begin by thinking of your home as a toxic waste dump. The average home today contains 62 toxic chemicals - more than a chemistry lab at the turn of the last century (that was 1900).

B. More than 72,000 synthetic chemicals have been produced since WW II.

C. Less than 2% of synthetic chemicals have been tested for toxicity, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects, or birth defects.

D. The majority of chemicals have never been tested for long-term effects.

E. An EPA survey concluded that indoor air was 3 to 70 times more polluted than outdoor air.

F. Another EPA study stated that the toxic chemicals in household cleaners are 3 times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air.

G. CMHC reports that houses today are so energy efficient that "out-gassing" of chemicals has nowhere to go, so it builds up inside the home.

H. We spend 90% of our time indoors, and 65% of that time at home. Moms, infants and the elderly spend 90% of their time in the home.

I. National Cancer Association released results of a 15-year study concluding that women who work in the home are at a 54% higher risk of developing cancer than women who work outside the home.

J. Cancer rates have almost doubled since 1960.

K. Cancer is the Number ONE cause of death for children.

L. There has been a 26% increase in breast cancer since 1982. Breast cancer is the Number ONE killer of women between the ages of 35 and 54. Primary suspects are laundry detergents, household cleaners and pesticides.

M. There has been a call from the U.S./ Canadian Commission to ban bleach in North America. Bleach is being linked to the rising rates of breast cancer in women, reproductive problems in men and learning and behavioral problems in children.

N. Chemicals get into our body through inhalation, ingestion and absorption.

O. We breathe 10 to 20 thousand liters of air per day.

P. There are more than 3 million poisonings every year. Household cleaners are the Number ONE cause of poisoning of children.

Q. Since 1980, asthma has increased by 600%. The Canadian Lung Association and the Asthma Society of Canada identify common household cleaners and cosmetics as triggers.

R. ADD/ADHD are epidemic in schools today. Behavioral problems have long been linked to exposure to toxic chemicals and molds.

S. Chemical and environmental sensitivities are known to cause all types of headaches.

T. Labeling laws do not protect the consumer - they protect big business.

U. The New York Poison Control Center reports that 85% of product warning labels were either inadequate or incorrect for identifying a poison, and for first aid instructions.

V. Formaldehyde, phenol, benzene, toluene, xylene are found in common household cleaners, cosmetics, beverages, fabrics and cigarette smoke. These chemicals are cancer causing and toxic to the immune system.

W. Chemicals are attracted to, and stored in fatty tissue. The brain is a prime target for these destructive organics because of its high fat content and very rich blood supply.

X. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found more than 2500 chemicals in cosmetics that are toxic, cause tumors, reproductive complications, biological mutations and skin and eye irritations.

Y. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, circulatory disorders, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and hormonal problems are diseases commonly related to chemical exposure.

Z. Pesticides only have to include active ingredients on the labels, even though the inert (inactive) ingredients may account for 99%, many of which are toxic and poisons.

More facts follow from Indoor Air Pollution Seminar:



Our homes should have a complete change of air 3 or 4 times a day. New homes are built so airtight that it is impossible to get a complete exchange of air. We should leave our windows open on each side of our house for better cross ventilation.

In Alberta in 2001,accidental poisoning statistics were as follows:

Between the ages of:

age poisonings
0 - 4 years 11, 515
5 - 10 years 1,524
11 - 19 years 1,019
20 and over 7,799


The top three culprits according to Poison Control: household cleaners, bleach and medications.

In the USA, the #1 cause of accidental poisoning is Dawn Dish washing Detergent. WHY? Because it is the #1 seller. Tide contains Lye and is the #1 polluter. It is also the #1 seller.

Deep Woods and Off have an ingredient called DEET. DEET causes seizures in children and adults. Inert (or inactive) ingredients in products are protected by trade secrets and are very dangerous. In the work place Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must accompany any product used. The work place and the outdoors are considered "legal environments" while the air in homes is not. So regulations for outdoor air pollution and toxins in the workplace are much more strict than in the home.

The ideal humidity rate is 35-45%. Higher rates cause mold. Use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers with standing water encourages mold growth in the water. The ideal temperature for homes is 68-72 degrees. Higher temperatures make chemicals more active. When we shower, the hot water aerates the chlorine and can cause headaches, as can the use of aerosols. Steam from our dryer vents is extremely toxic from the chemicals in fabric softener sheets and residues from detergents and bleach.

Chemicals used to dry clean clothing are very dangerous and can cause cancer. When you bring dry cleaning home you should hang it outside for at least 3 days. Dry cleaning chemicals are the same cancer causing chemicals in mothballs.

There are 4700 chemicals in tobacco smoke.

Formaldehyde is one of the largest indoor pollutants in our homes. Some products containing Formaldehyde include:
  • Antiperspirants
  • Synthetic wood sheeting - eg chipboard widely used in the vast majority of modern kitchens
  • Mouthwash
  • Tupperware
  • Permanent Press clothing
  • Floor waxes and furniture polishes
  • Baggies
  • Coffee
  • Wax Paper
  • Paper Money
Symptoms caused by formaldehyde are:
  • allergies
  • cancer
  • immune system failings
  • asthma
Phenols are a major indoor pollutant. Phenols are absorbed by lungs and skin. Symptoms include caustic burns, kidney and liver damage and hyperactivity. Some products containing Phenols include:
  • Acne medications
  • Baking Powder
  • Computers
  • TV sets
  • Mouthwash
  • Sugar substitutes
  • Wallpaper

Do you think the major products are safe?

WRONG! Lysol (c) is even more dangerous than we thought. It contains phenols and dioxin (Agent Orange).

Bleach must be safe because people have been using it for years, right?

WRONG! When using bleach, antiseptics or chlorine in industrial areas you are required by OSHA to wear impervious protective clothing, hard hats, boots, gloves, apron or overalls, chemical goggles or full face shield and use only in well ventilated areas.

When using Easy Off© make sure all your skin is covered, wear protective clothing, do not breath in and don't get on your enamel, (if this product will hurt the enamel on your stove, can you imagine what it will do to us?).

NTAs were banned in 1970. Lobbying by Proctor & Gamble in 1980 put them back into home products although they are extremely cancer causing. What are they for? ONLY to make more suds in detergents to make you think your clothes are getting cleaner.

Our immune system is very powerful, like a janitorial system. Giving our bodies good nutrition means our body can repair itself and be able to handle what we face in the world. Household chemicals cause all kinds of symptoms - from cardiovascular problems, panic attacks, and anxiety attacks to bedwetting.

ELIMINATING the cause of the environmental illness is more effective and much less expensive than treating the symptoms. Prevention is 80% - 90% effective. Treatments are 50% - 60% effective.

If you found this information alarming - please visit our household tips page to learn what you can do to minimise the toxic pollution in your living environment.


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