5 Hidden Home Invaders – How to Monitor & Keep Them Out

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homeBe aware of many common hidden home invaders, and work to monitor and address them wherever possible.

1. Dust mites – gone!

These creepy looking microscopic critters feed on dander from pets and humans and produce proteins that give us allergies. Warm, wet conditions can make them multiply.

Reduce temperature and humidity to help reduce dust mites. Dust mites love warm, humid conditions above 70F, and the National Institutes of Health recommends that for effective control, you should keep relative humidity below 50%. One option is to use a Canary – a recent home health device with a phone app – to monitor these conditions in your home, as it allows you to set proper levels and be warned when conditions are not optimal.

2. Mold – no way!

Molds are like people – they need food, air and water to survive. Remove water sources to keep them out.

Water in the home can contribute to mold growth. Bathrooms, basements, leaking roofs, faulty plumping, and too much humidity can all be sources. Keep humidity in your home between the optimal levels of 30-50% to control mold growth. A Canary can help you monitor relative humidity by alerting your phone that levels in your home are too high, helping to prevent mold from forming.

3. VOCs & gases –  keep them low!

Numerous sources in our homes can contribute to volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and gases. Some of these are necessary, like heating fuel and building products, but some are unnecessary, like many chemicals from cleaners, personal care products and automobiles. Reduce VOCs wherever you can. When you have too many chemicals in the home, your Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) level becomes elevated, which compromises your indoor air quality and may affect your overall health. If the Canary tells you that you have abnormal or very abnormal levels in air quality, you may have too many VOCs and gases in your home, or be facing a more serious condition such as elevated carbon monoxide or a gas leak. By monitoring items like hydrogen compounds, ethanol, isobutane and methane, you can be warned when the chemical level is high in your home. We recommend hiring a professional at this time to evaluate your home, remove chemical sources, and ventilate your space for improved health.

4. Carbon monoxide – we don’t want it!

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, toxic, flammable gas formed by incomplete combustion found in items that burn fuels such as cars, stoves, fireplaces and furnaces. Carbon monoxide binds to our blood! We are very familiar with the fact that very high levels can cause death. But low levels over an extended time are known to contribute to chronic health problems, too. We need to be monitoring this at low and high levels, but most traditional monitors will only be triggered at high levels. The Canary can let you know before things get to extreme and dangerous levels; it will monitor every day to make sure low levels are identified and fixed. Always have a yearly inspection of your furnace, chimney and exhaust pipes. Have the gas company check your home periodically for gas leaks and carbon monoxide. The Canary will also allow you to see smoke, a fire, or call authorities when you are not home.

5. Formaldehyde is everywhere. Reduce it!

After the recent flooring scare in the media, we should all be aware of formaldehyde. It is in everything from building materials to personal care products. It is also naturally occurring and can be found in wood and the atmosphere. BUT, because it’s everywhere does not make it healthy! In fact, it is a probable carcinogen, according to the EPA. Too much exposure is not good for us. New construction and remodeling in our homes can raise formaldehyde levels. Also read the labels on your personal care products, as many contain formaldehyde or derivatives of this chemical. It’s name may be disguised under various terms, including “urea.” Monitor for formaldehyde every 5 years, or if you have done remodeling or have just moved into a new home, you should test after the completion of your project to make sure your air is safe and ventilated.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2023