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Indoor Air Quality
What Do Gas Stoves and Your Bedroom Have in Common?
Indoor air quality is in the news right now. As CNN reports, the US Consumer Safety Product Commission is looking at a potential ban on sales of new gas stoves for households based on research that shows they release toxic compounds into the air, even when not in use. Gas stoves may contribute to as many as 1 in 8 cases of childhood asthma.
While gas stoves are getting all the attention, they’re not the only source of questionable air quality in our home. Shepherd’s Dream was founded by forward-thinking folks who recognized the issue with chemicals in bedding and how they can impact our health. Part of our mission is to help people live their best life as healthfully as possible, so let’s look at what your bedroom has to do with your indoor air quality.
What’s the Concern?
The main issue with gas stoves is their release of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, but they are also shown to emit some familiar-sounding compounds to those of us in the natural bedding industry: formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene. That’s because these chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are the same ones that can be found in mattresses made with synthetic foams, chemical flame retardants, petrochemicals, and synthetic fabrics and components—the very things that our founders were trying to avoid and provide natural alternatives to.
VOCs have varying health effects, from cardiovascular and respiratory system damage to cancer. And because they are invisible and oftentimes undetectable, most people aren’t aware that they’re being exposed.
In addition, many of these chemicals are not only pervasive in our bodies, but they negatively impact ecosystems and wildlife as well. This is why we’re all about sustainability, from the grass our wool sheep eat all the way to the point where a mattress is no longer useful and it can be returned to the earth. All-natural bedding is important for everybody.
A Guardian article outlines the scientific data and some good options. It’s important to note that any new recommendations or regulations will have no effect on existing gas stoves, only on the sale of new ones. And as we’ll see, one of the key factors with indoor air quality involves proper ventilation, so don’t go ripping out your gas stove just yet!
What Can We Do?
VOCs are everywhere, from gas stoves to building materials to cleaning products to candles. In the bedroom, they can be found in both home furnishings and mattresses.
- Consider the bedframe and furniture. Many manufacturers use composite wood, synthetic dyes and finishes, and toxic adhesives. Look for all-natural, nontoxic furniture. We love our solid wood bedframes and nightstands from Puritas Furniture Company, with their all-natural, zero-VOC finish made with a combination of beeswax, linseed oil, and pine resin.
- Consider the mattress. Easily one of the biggest sources of VOCs in the bedroom. Look for words such as all-natural, nontoxic, chemical free, and organic. Also be aware of greenwashing though, do your research. You can shop with confidence from Shepherd’s Dream, all of our mattresses are made from the best materials on Earth.
- Consider all the toppings. Pillows, sheets and blankets, comforters, toppers and mattress protectors…the whole shabang! If budget is a limiting factor, definitely begin with a pillow—after all, it’s merely inches from your face for eight hours! (Check out our helpful pillow buying guide to find your perfect pillow.)
- Proper ventilation. Our wool beds love good airflow, and so do your lungs. Try cracking a window for some fresh air circulation in your bedroom, and boost the results with a fan. Or consider investing in a quality air filtration unit for extra assurance.
VOCs are a serious concern, especially for anyone who is already experiencing trouble with allergies, chemical sensitivities, or other health issues. It’s an important topic to give some thought to, and then to align your buying habits with. The good news is that many companies are becoming more aware of the problem and shifting their manufacturing toward healthier, more sustainable practices. Supporting these companies with the vote of our dollars is crucial to helping sustainable and healthy lifestyle options viable for everyone.
We spend a third of our lives in our bedroom, so let’s make it the healthiest, coziest, dreamiest space in the house. Being free from worry about your health can go a long way toward helping you rest easier and more soundly. And who doesn’t need more of that?