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Toward a Healthy Home: Chemicals and Consequences

July 19, 2017


In the middle of the good rains we might have forgotten the extreme conditions of heat and humidity we faced in summer. We blame every other reason before understanding that we are responsible for such conditions. Instead of blaming the extreme conditions let us do an appraisal of how we contributed to such conditions and what we can do to contain it.

We consider many things when we build a home. We spend a lot of money and live inside it with all the discomforts! After spending so much money naturally we wish our home to be visible from a large distance. We don’t mind cutting plants and trees for the purpose. Without knowing the consequences of the colour and chemistry of the paints we decorate it with dark and potentially hazardous paints. Primarily because we haven’t understood the essence of beauty.

It is not the vaastu of the building that is going to create/solve the problem. I personally believe that as far as light and air enter the rooms freely every other aspect hold good for the building, so one need not go after vaastu. What we do and think about vaastu now is emotional exploitation for commercial benefits rather any reality. It is the mindset of the people living inside that decides the peace and prosperity, rather than vaastu.

Having said this, the type of chemicals we use to decorate our homes can play a major role in being in peace inside the house. Exposed concrete, the type of paint used to decorate wall, the air fresheners we use inside the rooms, the greenery around our home, hygienic conditions around the physical environment etc will decide the comforts inside the home.

Every composition of paint has harmful chemicals called volatile organic chemicals, in simpler term called as VOC chemicals. Under normal room temperature and pressure, they react to produce harmful gases which cause uneasiness like dizziness, nausea, irritation etc. They are carcinogens and long-term exposure could lead to cancer. The rising number of cancer patients as we embraced modern life style may also be attributed to the chemicals we inhale at home in various forms.

Any oil paint, polyurethane and epoxy paint we use is having high percentage of VOC chemicals. The varnishes we use on wooden furniture and other wooden crafts to make it shine are very high on VOC chemicals. Likewise the use of air fresheners must be reduced or should not be used at all. Instead, plant a rose near every window and solve the problem naturally.

The frequent frictions among the family members may be attributed to these harmful artificial environment and chemicals they produce to destroy the peace of mind. We get agitated easily because of the side effects of these harmful chemicals and gases around us.

Try to use only water based flat paints (non glossy) and pastel colors to reduce the VOC levels and pigments (thinned and used by mixing water). If you want to use polyurethane or epoxies they are also available now which is thinned with water for a slightly higher price. As the temperature is going up every year we are going to face severe environmental problems which directly impacts our health if we fail to wake up now.

Gulf countries, Europe and many other advanced nations have strict adherence policy toward the paint used for buildings (Green Certification). Unfortunately in India this is not implemented strictly and for an ordinary person who wants to follow this norm, the awareness is almost zero. Asbestos which is banned almost in all the advanced countries sells freely in India. Similarly, use of PVC should be limited and re-usage of it completely stopped.

Exposed concrete is a major concern which absorbs and radiates the heat inside the room making living inside almost impossible without the air conditioners on. And the increase in the usage of air conditioners emits harmful gases which are harmful for the existence of the ozone layer thereby increasing the risk of high temperature and skin related diseases.

A simple step of covering the roof with trees and plants can solve this problem easily. Plant trees that serve the dual purpose of providing shade and enhancing the beauty. By erecting a few poles on either side of the home a few feet from the wall and having plants and trees that bend easily grow over it, it is possible to cover the roof easily providing much-needed relief from heat and humidity, and enhance quality of air. Using this method to cover the roof over a few feet distance above the roof /terrace, home will be clearly visible and the external paint is secured for a longer period of time which may be also helpful in preventing water leakage inside by preventing the fall of direct rains on the concrete roof. Gardening will increase the aroma of the air and replace air fresheners which may be carcinogenic in the long term.

Let us replace all the usage of artificial things we use to decorate our home and replace them with natural setting. The more the greenery around us, the more we will be at peace. Let us welcome back those beautiful butterflies and birds in particular the nightingale which can be seen only on wats up and Facebook so that the money spent on our home will really makes our living comfortable inside it.

 

 

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By Vincent D'Sa, Dubai/Shankerpura

Comment on this article

  • Rajesh, Mulki

    Sun, Jul 30 2017

    We probably still have 50 to 60 years more before we get well educated citizens in the governance. Sad thing is that by that time we will be almost at the point of no return..Right now the government is the playground for people of altogether different class and mindset..

    Agree [1]

  • Krishna Dasa, Udupi

    Fri, Jul 28 2017

    Responsible Governments in the world will not permit manufacturing, importing or selling harmful chemicals & products. Control or eliminate the availability of the products /chemicals with heavy fine, penalty and jail term. We should ask our elected officials to be responsible.

    Agree [5]

  • FRANCIS, Dubai

    Mon, Jul 24 2017

    Dear Mr. Vincent D'Sa,

    Thank you for your brilliant article "Toward a Healthy Home: Chemicals and Consequences", which is so educative, informative and revealing the harmful chemical hazardous.

    Look forward for more such articles from you...

    Agree [4]

  • Reena, Katapadi

    Sun, Jul 23 2017

    Excellent article

    Agree [3]

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