You just moved into a new home and are super excited to start decorating your new space. You create the ultimate Pinterest board with inspiring photos and visit all these trendy furniture stores to buy and build a cosy nest.
Unfortunately, within a week of moving in (with all your new furniture!), you start developing allergies. You convince yourself they’re going to vanish as quickly as they appeared and decide to wait.
But it doesn’t go away.
You start taking medications to alleviate your annoying allergies and go through a whole host of steps that will, supposedly, get you through this.
And yet, you still can’t figure out why these allergies seemed to have…settled in for good.
Well, the answer might be a lot more literal than you think. Your interior decor could be the culprit!
How do I know? It happened to me.
Hi friends, my name is Salia.
It was my first home, and I was super excited to start applying all of my interior design knowledge to my own space. As an interior designer, I had been trained to make a home look pretty. Little did I know that ‘pretty’ things can have an ugly chemical footprint.
Though my allergies were new, I also had eczema for as long as I can remember (this is important for later). When I started my journey of healing my skin and allergies, I went through diet changes, lifestyle changes and more, but nothing was giving me the results I was hoping for.
On the side, I started doing product research for an organic beauty brand to get a better understanding of our topical products and how they affect the skin.
Just when I was starting to learn more about skin, I was also getting to the end of my rope about my personal health. I was frustrated with the fact that I still had eczema and allergies.
Desperate, I decided to switch one more thing in my life to see if there would be any changes.
I switched all my bedding to organic cotton.
Next thing you know, I am eczema and allergy-free.
I couldn’t believe it! A simple switch had healed me. I was both relieved and vexed. How could something so mundane change my life completely? This also led me to the question of why? What was so wrong with my previous bedding that had caused all this to happen in the first place?
Why did changing my bedding to a natural alternative fix the health problems I was having?
I decided to do a deep-dive into the chemicals in our interior decor. I was astounded to learn that most of our interior decor contains chemicals that are linked to skin irritations and allergies. Even more astonishing, some of these chemicals are even directly related to cancers.
All the fancy new furniture that most of us pay a premium for can cause CANCER, and I bet you didn’t even know it.
Unfortunately, the US and UK governments don’t regulate chemicals in products such as furniture.
This is why it’s so important to research products before inviting them into your home.
From couches and beds to paints and throw blankets, there are a plethora of toxic chemicals in each that we should all be aware of.
Here are some things to look out for in your home decor:
Synthetic and Semi-Natural Fabrics
Most synthetic and semi-natural fabrics, such as polyester, are linked to skin irritations, nausea and reproductive disruptions, to name a few health effects.
Synthetic fabrics are made from petroleum, aka crude oil. Not only is it awful for our environment, but it has horrible repercussions on our bodies too.
Even semi-natural fabrics can be dangerous. Yes, they start with a natural material, such as wood or bamboo, but these semi-natural fabrics go through a chemical process that breaks down the fibres and turn them into fabric. These chemical compounds can linger on fabric even after being thoroughly washed, which is why it is so dangerous to have them inside our homes.
When it comes to upholstery like sofas, most are coated with a chemical to help the furniture piece last longer and prevent stains. This coating can seep into the skin through contact and even enter your bloodstream!
Polyester Form and Fire Retardants
Polyester foam is also made from petroleum. It is known to cause lung irritation, eye irritation, and contains carcinogens.
Fire retardants are linked to endocrine disruption, immune system suppression, and childhood growth suppression.
For those that are cautious about purchasing furniture without any retardants inside, here is something to consider.
It used to be a law to have retardants in couches back in the ’70s because it was common for household members to smoke inside, which led to couches going up in flames.
Though it is less common now, there is still a law stating it as a necessity. However, Breast Cancer UK suggests the US and UK have the highest levels of flame retardants in human body fluids. Legacy polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are in breast milk in the highest concentrations in women in the US and UK.
“There is a growing body of research that some flame retardants pose a threat to human health and the environment. The Cancer Prevention and Education Society noted the effects include ‘cancer, neurotoxicity, developmental, behavioural, endocrine, metabolic, reproductive, developmental and allergy.”
The government recognizes the health disruptions fire retardants can potentially have on our bodies and now requires companies to state whether a product contains fire retardants as a caution.
Most paints, glues, and finishes contain VOCs, which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. This is typically the love or hate “new” smell that accompanies new furniture and newly-painted rooms.
VOCs are known to off-gas dangerous chemicals into our homes, such as formaldehyde, ethanol, and phthalates, to name a few.
These are linked to allergies, skin and lung irritations, liver and kidney damage, and central nervous system damage.
As you can see, there is more than meets the eye with your interior decor. Be wary of what you invite into your home because you never know what long term damages it can have on your body and for your loved ones.
Author: Salia Edenslove
Salia is a non-toxic and sustainable interior decorator that works virtually to help people from all over the world. Her main focus is to help you detox your home while helping the environment heal.You can view more of her work at www.edensdesign.love
Image Credit: Cottonbro