Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Demystifying household chemicals: Toluene

Spray paint contains the
toxic chemical toluene
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
"Demystifying household chemicals" is a series that aims to inform people on the types of chemicals found in and around our homes. The series will be featured every Wednesday where a different chemical, and its everyday uses, will be discussed.

It may seem daunting to look at the list of ingredients on the back of a label and try to figure out what all those scientific words mean.  But knowing what they are and how they can affect you and your family are very important. 

Toluene is a clear liquid that has a very distinct smell. You know that strong smell you find in paint thinners? That’s toluene. It is a common ingredient found in many of our household products. 

Toluene is also an aromatic hydrocarbon, like Xylene (discussed in a previous entry), and is most commonly used as a solvent. 

This chemical, though not considered carcinogenic, can have very severe consequences. While toluene naturally occurs in liquid form, it can also be found in gas form, such as in aerosols. 

Inhaling this chemical can cause drowsiness, numbness, nausea and headaches. Irritations to the nose, throat and skin may also occur. There have been instances where toluene has been inhaled for recreational purposes, which results in a chemical high resembling drunkenness.

Exposure to this chemical in confined spaces can affect the central nervous system and in extreme cases, cause unconsciousness and even death.  

  •         Spray paints
  •         Primers
  •         Multipurpose cleaners (liquid or aerosol)
  •         Contact cement
  •         Floor polish
  •         Paint thinners
  •         Bathmats
  •         Wood sealers
  •         Some coloring pens and markers

Many people store the products above in the basement or garage. If possible, apply these products outdoors to help reduce the chances of the vapors entering the home. If work needs to be done inside the garage, keep the doors open during that time.  

Keeping your indoor air quality safe

AllerAir's numerical series is made
for odor and chemical control
When working inside the home, make sure to keep all windows and doors open to allow for maximum ventilation or use an air purifier. 

AllerAir’s 5000 or 6000 DX Vocarb air purifier was conceived for the purpose of dealing with spaces that have high concentrations of airborne chemicals, odors and volatile organic chemicals. 

After completing the work on your rooms, set the air purifier at the lowest setting throughout the night or until the windows are opened again the next day. 

Keeping it at the lowest setting will allow the chemicals to be adsorbed more quickly by the activated carbon filter within the air purifier.

Do you have any questions about toluene or how our air purifiers can help keep your home safe? Post your questions or comments here and we'll be happy to respond.

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Contact us at AllerAir for more information on our products.

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