Your home—your castle—should be where you feel secure and safe. But what if your home is exposing you to harmful chemicals and pollutants?
Studies have shown that indoor air is often up to five times more polluted than the air outside. And that's for homes in the country as well as the city. Even worse is that research has linked overexposure to toxic chemicals with behavioral problems, cancer, asthma, and brain damage.
Want to get your home in good health? Here are eight easy and inexpensive ways to improve the air quality in your home so you and your loved ones can live in a healthy and safe environment.
The tiny dust particles that collect on furniture and floors aggravate allergies and contain hazardous chemicals like lead, pesticides, and fire retardants. If you have an option, choose hardwood, tile, or non-vinyl floors over carpet, which harbors dust and allergens. Dust your furniture often and vacuum at least once a week with a vacuum that has as HEPA filter. Clean the vacuum bag and filter every time you vacuum.
Secondhand smoke is the greatest cause of asthma for children. The list of health problems associated with smoking is so long it is a wonder smoking is still legal. If you are at all concerned about your health, the health of your family, or the health of your home, it is time to kick the habit.
Exposure to lead and radon can cause serious health problems. Lead can be found in paint used in homes built before 1978. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage in babies and children. If you live in an older home, send paint chips to be tested in a lab or have a professional run a simple test. In the event lead is in your paint, hire a professional to rid your home of the dangerous toxin.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas made from the soil and rock under your house. This gas can seep up through your floors and is the second greatest cause of lung cancer. Buy a radon test kit at any home store for less than $30, and you can easily find out whether or not radon is coming up from the ground under your home.
It shouldn't surprise you that if pesticides kill insects, mice, and weeds, they can also cause damage to humans—especially children. Exposure to pesticides is associated with an increased risk of asthma, learning problems, and brain damage. You'll not only save money by not using pesticides, but you'll also save your family from potential health problems.
The majority of cleaning supplies you use to clean your home are filled with powerful and potentially dangerous chemicals. Look for "green” cleaning products that don't contain ammonia, chlorine, petroleum, or phosphates. Vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and borax are all safe options when it comes to keeping your home clean and healthy.
It is important to know that upholstered furniture, synthetic carpeting, stain resistant chemicals, and materials used to install carpet bring pollutants into your home. Choose carpets made of natural fibers like wool or cotton or make sure the carpet can be aired out before being installed, and then ventilate your home after installation.
Also be aware that plywood, fiberboard, and particleboard furniture are often made with glue that releases harmful chemicals. Look for green options or furniture made with water-based or VOC-free glues.
The cheapest and easiest way to improve the health of your home is to open the windows and let the fresh outdoor air in when the weather is nice. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, it would be worth the investment to get an air filter for your home. To prevent mold and mildew, run exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom and a dehumidifier in your basement.
After doing what you can to limit the amount of pollutants and harmful chemicals in your home, add some houseplants to your decor. Healthy indoor plants look nice and improve oxygen levels, combat mold, and filter volatile organic chemicals including formaldehyde and ammonia out of the air.