How your home contributes to your kids and grandkids toxic load

Even if you try your darnedest to buy organic, chemical-free foods and use natural cleaners, you’re likely exposed to dangerous chemicals daily at your most vulnerable times…

Like when you’re snuggled up on the couch reading a book. Or when you’re crouched down on the floor playing with toy trucks with your grandson.

That’s because a lot of furniture, flooring and other household items contain harmful semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). These chemicals are linked to everything from respiratory disorders to reproductive disorders to cancer.

Now, daily SVOC exposure isn’t good for anybody. But SVOCs are worse for children than for adults. That’s because children’s vulnerable, developing bodies show negative effects at smaller exposures.

Unfortunately, many children are being exposed to these chemicals in their homes. And these chemicals are staying in their bodies for years afterward…

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How furniture and flooring chemicals affect our kids

A new study from researchers at Duke University found that children who live in homes with vinyl flooring or flame-retardant sofas have much higher levels of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) in their blood or urine.

Children who lived in homes with couches that contained a type of SVOC called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) had six times higher concentrations of PBDEs in their blood than children who lived in homes that didn’t have this chemical in their couches.

PBDEs have been tied to neurodevelopmental problems, obesity, endocrine disruption, thyroid issues, cancer, and other diseases.

Fortunately, PBDEs started to be phased out of couches, carpeting and other household items in 2004. But a study conducted last year found that all children tested still had PBDEs in their bodies.

This latest Duke study also found that children with vinyl flooring in their homes have 15 times more benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite in their urine than children who live in homes without vinyl flooring.

Benzyl butyl phthalate is another SVOC that’s been connected to respiratory disorders, skin irritations, multiple myeloma, and reproductive disorders.

Keeping yourself and your family safe from SVOCs

Unfortunately, SVOCs are found in more than just furniture and flooring. They’re in electronics, building materials, and other everyday items. That means you’ll find them in every indoor environment. And it’s a darn shame…

Our homes are supposed to be safe zones where we can relax and enjoy life’s simple pleasures with our families… without worrying about toxic chemicals.

But since we live in an imperfect world, all we can do is make our homes as safe as possible. A great place to start is getting rid of flame-retardant furniture and vinyl flooring. These may not be the only source of SVOCs in your home, but they’re one of the biggest.

Another way to reduce your exposure to SVOCs is to keep your house clean. These chemicals tend to settle in dust, which we then inhale. So, start a regular dusting and vacuuming schedule, and stick to it!

You should also decrease your body’s overall toxic burden, so it can detoxify chemicals more efficiently. Start with your diet. Eating a mostly organic, whole foods diet will make your body more resilient to all the chemicals that cross its path… including SVOCs.

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  1. Children carry evidence of toxins from home flooring and furniture — MedicalXpress
  2. Childhood exposure to flame retardant chemicals declines following phase-out — MedicalXpress
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and