In the U.S., about 75% of homes are constructed from wood.
But many people don’t know that it contains chemicals that can leach into the water supply.
As a result, some states have banned the use of wood-based paints.
“We do know that there are chemicals that are used in wallpaper,” said Dr. Steven DeNardo, a lead researcher at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization.
“They are found in most of the material used to build and maintain homes.”
And that includes paints and finishes.
“These chemicals, they are very, very toxic and it is not something that people should be putting in their homes,” DeNardos said.
The chemical is known as hydroxyethylcellulose (HECS), which is the same chemical that’s used to make polyurethane foam.HECs are used to form waterproof coatings, seal surfaces, seal air and watertight containers and for the manufacture of some paint.
“It’s the most abundant form of synthetic resins in the world, which means there is a high risk that it’s going to leach,” De Nardo said.
That is especially true if you use paint that’s sprayed with a chemical known as DEHP.
The chemicals are also used in products like paint, wood filler and carpeting.
It’s unclear how much of a risk they pose to people using these materials.
The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t regulate the use or exposure of chemicals, and it’s up to the manufacturer to determine if the product complies with the federal law.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, HECS is a “major contributor” to the pollution of the environment, and a “leading risk” for the health of people.
The authors of the study said that if the chemicals were to enter the drinking water supply, they could be linked to respiratory and reproductive problems, as well as cancers.
“If you’re going to put the chemical in the water system, you have to take care of it,” said DeNaro.
The EPA estimates that between 1.7 million and 3.5 million Americans rely on wood-powered home appliances, according to the study.
“If you have a lot of wood, you’re likely to have a higher risk of cancer and other health problems,” DeSardo said, “and I think we need to be concerned about the use and exposure of these chemicals.”
Some states have laws that regulate how chemicals can be used in homes, including California, where people have been asked to limit the use in their water.
Other states, like New York, have laws to prevent the use, but these laws are only enforced after the chemicals have been phased out.
“The EPA is really the one place that has a responsibility to regulate this stuff, and that is to get out of this industrial chemical industry,” DeCastro said.
“The EPA should be doing more to enforce the existing law.”
DeNardo and other researchers are also concerned about how much HECs will be used to manufacture paint, but the chemicals are already in use in some products.
For example, HECT paint is used in paint and finishes in homes.
The chemical is used to create the look of wood.
In some paint formulations, it is also used to improve the color and transparency of certain paints.
When it is used on concrete, it can alter the chemical structure of the concrete.
It also leaches into the air and can be inhaled and absorbed through clothing and other materials.
The EPA says that it can’t get involved in the use-by-date issue, and its regulations are voluntary.
It says that if a chemical is found to be in the environment before a home is used, the EPA will issue a warning letter.
“We’re really concerned about our water supplies and our water quality,” De Castro said, but he says he is confident that California and other states that have banned HEC paint will be able to follow through with the new rules.
The Clean Water Act, which regulates chemicals in the drinking-water supply, doesn’t specifically regulate HEC paints, but DeNio says he expects them to be regulated as well.
“This is a big problem because it’s one of the most pervasive and dangerous industrial chemicals in our environment, which is why we’re concerned,” De Neares said.
He says that the EPA should require manufacturers to notify their customers about HEC compounds.
If you know more about the chemical, you can share your stories with us at the website of the EPA.