Did you know that the air pollution in your office may be up to ten times higher than the environmental pollution outside?

New furniture, carpets, couches, fresh paint and the use of chemical laden cleaning products can all contribute to the toxicity of the indoor air you are inhaling.

Research has shown that persistent air pollutants, also termed POPs are present in every living thing in the world, transferring into all animal and human tissues, fat and blood including breast milk and umbilical cord blood.

How is Chemical Exposure Affecting My Health?

A World Health Organization publication has reported that endocrine disrupting chemicals found in pesticides, electronics, personal care products, cosmetics and food are partly to blame for a global increase in cancers, cardiovascular disease, neurodevelopmental problems in children and obesity, with these findings just scraping the tip of the iceberg.

“Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion. However only a small fraction of these chemicals have been investigated in tests. This lack of data introduces significant uncertainties about the true extent of risks from chemicals that potentially could disrupt the endocrine system, ” says a WHO report on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

How Can I Reduce My Chemical Exposure?

Though it’s impossible to completely eliminate your exposure to chemicals all together. You can certainly reduce your chemical exposure through some simple life style changes that will help safe guard your health long term.

1. Wash Your Hands Regularly

Your hands come in contact with chemical contaminated products such as computers, tv’s and furniture throughout the day. Washing your hands will reduce the amount of time the chemical comes in contact with your skin, therefore reducing it’s absorption. A 2011 study on the exposure of PBDEs in the office environment has shown that those that wash their hands 4 times a day greatly reduced their chemical exposure and accumulation of PBDEs in their blood. PDBEs is a known ECD, particularly affecting thyroid hormone transport and metabolism.

2. Bring Plants Into Your Office

Incorporating potted plants into your work environment has been shown to reduce indoor air pollution significantly with in 24 hours. These include a reduction in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as formaldehyde, xylene/toluene, benzene, chloroform, ammonia and acetone.

Common plants that have been studied to reduce VOCs (volatile organic compounds) include snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) and golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum). There was no difference between effectiveness of each plant species.

If you also work in an office environment and notice you get sick very easily, think about taking a plant to work to sit on your desk. ‘Building related illness’ or ‘sick building syndrome’ are commonly caused by major indoor contaminants like VOCs. Indoor plants at work not only reduce VOCs but they’ve also been shown to improve productivity and overall well being.

3. Leave Your Shoes At The Door

Ok this might be a little strange particularly if you work in a large corporate office, but if it’s something that suits your type of work then definitely consider it. Shoes often carry harmless looking dust that’s contaminated with a number of different chemicals picked up throughout the course of the day. Pesticides and flame retardants are just two common chemicals that can be picked up by foot wear and brought into your work. Before you enter, simply kick off your shoes to significantly reduce the dust levels.

Regularly cleaning your area of work with a wet mop will also reduce the collection of harmful dust in your home that you and your family are breathing in.

4. Air Out New Furniture Or Newly Renovated Office Buildings

The foam in sofas and chairs as well as the paint on walls and the fabric on your furniture all release volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) into the air. These VOC’s such as formaldehyde are associated with acute health effects such as allergic reactions, skin rashes, eye irritation, and respiratory irritation. There has also been a significant correlation between formaldehyde exposure and nasopharyngeal cancer.

To reduce your risk of these effects, ventilate your working area by opening your windows and doors. Heat can also speed up the release of VOC’s from furniture, so putting new furniture outside in sunlight can significantly reduce the ‘new furniture smell’ before putting it in your office.

Share Your Thoughts

Are there any handy tips you can share with your fellow healthy her readers to safeguard them against a toxic working environment? Share your insights in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading and contributing!