Just a quick but VERY important reminder of how important clean air is to health, especially those treating, in remission from, or acting to prevent cancer (hint: that should be all of us).

f you have visited our clinic lately, you will have noticed the hallway between the three suites is quite fragrant. Perhaps you’ve chosen to hold your breath while walking down the long hall.

A flurry of remodeling of an adjacent suite this last month has left a number of fumes permeating the common space. Without the ability to open windows in any of the suites, the off-gassing from the new building materials is not readily dissipating.

Peeking in the window of the new business, the big offenders appear to be fresh paint and new laminate flooring, both replete with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Unless installed floating, flooring has the additional toxicants of formaldehyde and benzene in the adhesives used to glue it into place.

These chemicals are pervasive in building materials and persist in the air (albeit to a lesser degree) even after the smell is no longer perceptible. Paint can be purchased that contains zero-VOC, but mainstream brands fail to disclose other toxic ingredients, such as solvents and biocides. This deceptive marketing is known as greenwashing.

© Brandon LaGreca

Low level of exposure to VOCs is known to cause headaches and nausea, while prolonged exposure damages the kidneys, liver, lungs, and nervous system. The link between VOCs and cancer is well established.1,2

Visitors of the clinic will quickly note that we moved our Austin Air filter right inside the front door to capture these toxic fumes. The difference is dramatic; you can still smell the off-gassing chemicals just inside of our front door, but no further.

The moral of the story: spend the extra money buying truly non-toxic building materials, open windows whenever possible, and consider air purification with medical-grade HEPA filtration, lest your lungs and liver become the filter.