There is rising evidence that environmental exposures such as air pollution in genetically-susceptible individuals are a cause of autism. Some examples of air pollution are heavy metals, toluene, solvents, and flame retardants. Many people don’t realize that they can be exposed to these pollutants in their homes. Below are some examples of indoor air pollution:
- Carpeting—Some carpets can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while carpet padding may be treated with flame-retardants.
- Furniture—VOCs can be emitted from the glues and binders in plywood, particleboard and composite wood products.
- Home Printers: Ink cartridges may emit VOCs and glymes. These solvent chemicals are part of the glycol ether family.
- Scented candles—Non-beeswax candles can emit cancer-causing benzene and toluene.
- Non-stick cookware can emit polytetrafluoroethylene. Use stainless steel, stoneware or domestic cast-iron cookware instead.
- Paints, varnishes and wax as well as some cleaning products contain organic solvents. Store in an outdoor shed rather than in your home.
To help protect yourself from these sources of indoor air pollution and potential causes of autism, look for “Low VOCs” information on product labels, well ventilate your home while using solvents, air out new carpeting and building materials before installing them in your home and substitute synthetically scented candles and non-stick cookware with safe alternatives.
Sources: Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (uphe.org)
American Lung Association (lung.org)