Qu'est-ce que la pollution de l'air intérieur ? (en anglais)

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No one is unaware of the dangers of pollution on their health and thanks to its media coverage, habits are changing.
But at a time when we spend more than 90% of our time in a confined space (WHO study), we must be aware of indoor air pollution.

Indeed, according to the American Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Stagnant and accumulative, this pollution can be benign or have much more serious consequences on health: highly carcinogenic, some reflexes are to be adopted.

Sources of indoor air pollution

There are many sources of indoor air pollution. While some are more obvious, such as smoking or dust, others are less so. For example, cleaning products release pollutants with each use: volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the form of gases that accumulate in the room atmosphere. Building materials or paints can also accumulate pollutants in the air. These released gases such as Radon are highly carcinogenic and harmful to the respiratory tract. Even the most recent paints release them months after use. Choosing alternatives without VOCs is not more expensive and strongly limits these risks. Treated furniture also pollutes indoor air. The treatments of the materials that compose them release fine particles and a particularly toxic gas into the air we breathe: formaldehyde. This gas is present in all stages of the life cycle of a piece of furniture and particularly in wooden ones.

Furniture that causes indoor air pollution

Most of the furniture produced today is made from reconstituted wood panels. Producing in this way requires a large quantity of adhesives that are at the origin of formaldehyde or methanal releases.

While the Grenelle 2 law requires products harmful to health to be displayed on consumer goods, the regulations surrounding furniture are behind schedule.
The mandatory display of methanal exposure risks will only be carried out by 2020, although the gas has been recognised since 2013 as a “definite carcinogen” by the WHO.
However, some standards exist to guide the consumer: choosing F1 class furniture (ensuring a low level of formaldehyde) is one solution.
Natural resins or green adhesives can also replace harmful glues.

Another controversial subject in furniture treatment, fire treatments. Curing the fibres that eventually break, they are incorporated into the dust and accumulate on floors and walls. They then become unmanageable for humans, especially for children. It is this highly volatile nature that makes these particles a real risk. It is found in wooden furniture and on all textiles (cushions, sofas, sheets).
Carcinogenic, overexposure can also lead to neurological complications and sensitivity to thyroid disease. These flame retardants are known endocrine disrupters and can also delay puberty in adolescents.

The effectiveness of these products in limiting fire risks has recently been widely questioned. Studies carried out by consumer associations even show that the combustion of these treatments would lead to even more toxic fumes, increasing the risks more than limiting them.
In the absence of clear regulations or prevention, their use in production has not decreased. Chemicals such as Tris have been banned from children’s pajama production lines for decades but are still allowed for cushion or sofa treatments.
Changing your consumption habits becomes necessary but is not so complicated. You can use the TB 117-2013 label as a good first indicator, which ensures a minimum volume of fireproof products.

When producing furniture, the list of chemical elements dangerous to air quality is still long.
All furniture is generally varnished and oiled, and these chemical products release the same gases as those mentioned above.
Moving towards furniture with natural varnishes is possible by choosing ecological or acrylic rather than synthetic woodstains to protect the wood.

The discourse and initiatives on indoor air pollution must change. 2020 marks an important step in the process with new legislation in place, but why wait until it is already possible to choose healthier and more environmentally friendly options? Affordable solutions exist, it is up to us to apply them.

Favouring alternatives

The discourse and initiatives on indoor air pollution must change. 2020 marks an important step in the process with new legislation in place, but why wait until it is already possible to choose healthier and more environmentally friendly options? Affordable solutions exist, it is up to us to apply them.
Favouring natural alternatives is not only a civic commitment to the planet. It also means taking care of yourself and your loved ones in the short and long term.