I am currently in the middle of renovation chaos. Everyone told me it would be hard, but I don’t think anything really prepares you for it. Truthfully, I thought not having a functional oven, or running water, would be the most difficult thing to deal with (yes, I know, first world problems), but it is the amount of dust that really is the hardest. But even if you aren’t going through a renovation, dust is everywhere and can aggravate allergies and asthma. And it’s not just dust… there are many items in your house that can be less than healthy for you and your family.
According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor concentrations of pollutants, like dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can be up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. VOCs are a group of chemicals that are often the source of health problems. Benzene and formaldehyde are two VOCs that have been linked to cancer.
So, in lieu of setting up a tent and living outdoors, here are 10 tips to help make your home healthier.
- Vacuum: Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to suck up dust particles so they aren’t released back into your home.
- Take your shoes off outside: Leave behind the outdoor chemicals picked up on the soles of your shoes.
- Dust: Use a microfiber cloth to remove dust, which could contain a variety of chemicals including pesticides, bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates.
- Avoid fragrance: Often listed as “parfum” on packaging, fragrance contains many of the toxic chemicals that can affect respiratory health. It can be found in anything from laundry soap to garbage can liners.
- Purchase plants: Certain types of plants can suck pollutants from your indoor air.
- Get rid of air fresheners: They’re made of chemicals linked to problems such as headaches, depression and hormone disruption. Open a window or simmer herbs and spices on the stove to eliminate odors.
- Avoid using Teflon or nonstick cookware: Heating this cookware will release chemicals that may cause developmental harm or cancer. (Look for a blog coming soon about safe cookware.)
- Check for radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that can lead to lung cancer. Hire a tester or purchase a testing kit – more resources can be found online.
- Cut down on plastics: Many products, including toys, kitchenware and shower curtains, are made from the poisonous plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
- Make your cleaners: Many store-bought household cleaners contain fragrance and disinfectants. Fragrances may be synthetic, and disinfectants may be made of unnecessarily harsh chemicals such as ammonia and chlorine bleach. Make your own all-purpose cleaner by combining 2 cups white distilled vinegar, 2 cups water, and an optional 20 to 30 drops of an essential oil.
Photo from here, with thanks.