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Our garages tend to be the catchalls for things we don’t want to keep in our house. But an attached garage is just another room in your house, and with the cars, lawnmowers, gasoline, paints, and chemical solvents, it could be contributing to a toxic living environment.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., an attached garage is a source of home air pollutants that we are only now discovering.1 This includes gas fumes and other liquids from car engines, which continue vaporizing after the car is off.2 These combustion pollutants can be drawn into the home through open doors, poorly sealed doors, cracks in walls, spaces around ductwork and wiring, as well as through the ceiling.

Health Canada, in a study involving 100 homes, found benzene in measurable quantities inside the houses of those with attached garages.1 The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration says long-term exposure to benzene, a gasoline-related pollutant, can affect bone marrow and blood production. Drowsiness, dizziness, unconsciousness, and death can result from short-term exposure to high levels of benzene.3

The car isn’t the only source of potentially hazardous pollutants in the garage. Our collections of solvents, liquids, and the like often give off harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs are natural and man-made carbon-based agents. VOCs evaporate easily and quickly react with other carbon-based compounds.4