Nontoxic Caulk Options for Green Living Homes
by N J Howell
Complete home detox unit
The Best Air Purifier
This is part three of a five-part article on detoxing your home. It will be helpful to start at the beginning, if you have reached this page directly from a search engine search or a eco-friendly link. detoxing your home, part one.
If you are chemically sensitive, as I have been most of my life, you are more acutely aware of the toxins around you than the average person. On the other hand, if you are less chemically aware, you may not connect certain allergies, breathing problems, skin problems or insomnia to chemicals in your home. Learning to replace toxic chemicals with nontoxic ones is a great way to help improve your health and the health of your family.
About Nontoxic Caulk Products
I was just squeezing clear caulk around my windows and baseboards but then read the warnings. It's a bit scary. If you have some caulk handy, just take a quick read.
If you think about it, you could breathe a lot of toxins from caulk around windows and baseboards because they are there to keep air out so air is coming up against it all the time. I shudder to think about this and am so glad that I didn't do the whole house before I read about the toxicity. It's all so casual. It isn't like you go in Lowes or Home Depot and they have warnings up in the caulk section. That wouldn't be good for sales. It's all in the fine print.
The silicone caulk I purchased at the local hardware store states that it "may be harmful of swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed thru the skin". That last warning got me because I watched a contractor fix one of my windows and the smooth out the caulk all the way around it with his fingers. This same general caulk product is "irritating to skin, eyes and respiratory system and can cause central nervous system depression". So, what's the alternative to toxic caulk? So, what's the alternative to toxic caulk? Luckily, there are several but if you are not exactly tech-savvy (I'm not) be sure that you know how to use a caulk gun properly so that you avoid unnecessary exposure to the caulk.
What to look for in a nontoxic caulk: Look for a water-based caulk and read all the warnings on the back. Look for the words "low VOC", not only in caulk but in paints and other green building supplies. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and if a product is labeled "low VOC" it means that it has less of the typical toxins that similar products might contain. Does that mean low VOC products are completely nontoxic? I don't necessarily think so. It does mean, for me at least, that they are more healthy than the unlabeled versions. You can find nontoxic caulk and good advice on nontoxic, low VOC alternatives for your home at Shelter Ecology (google it; they're in Asheville, NC) or other green living product sites.
Continue with green living article... part four: nontoxic paint
Health Disclaimer: If you sense that you may have been harmed by toxins in your home, it is vital to seek medical evaluation. This information on green living alternatives is not intended to replace that. Discuss respiratory concerns with your doctor if you have asthma, acute allergies or chemical sensitivities. Any unusual change in health noticed soon after moving into a new residence should be investigated and toxic reactions ruled out.