It’s no secret that we spend the majority of our lives in our homes. This means that there are few things more important that you can do for your health than to keep your home environment healthy. It’s true that many of us have taken steps to make our homes safer, from regular vacuuming to the removal of mold when we find it, but there is so much more that can be done. Here is a list of the top 10 ways home affects your health, as well as advice for improving them:
Dust mites are extremely common on mattresses, couches and other areas where dead human skin cells abound. Keeping these pesky critters under control will go a long way to keeping your allergies at bay. Vacuum carpets and upholstery weekly, and wash linens regularly in warm water. Indoor air purifiers are also useful for filtering dust mites out of the air, while allergen-proof mattress covers fulfill a similar function in reducing dust mites exposure in the bedroom. If your sofas are old and particularly bothersome in terms of allergies, try replacing them with modern sectional sofas made of leather, which tend to hold far fewer dust mites than their older counterparts.
Commonly handled items such as toothbrushes, kitchen sponges, and even your chairs are often hotbeds for germs and viruses. Keeping these items clean and germ free will go a long way to keeping you healthy. Rinsing your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide after each use will cut down on the amount of bacteria and viruses that lurk between the bristles. For kitchen sponges, it is recommended that they be replaced weekly to prevent spreading bacteria, viruses and food borne illnesses to your countertops and your hands. For soft surfaces like chairs, weekly treatments with Lysol or other bactericide/virucide will keep you virus and infection free. Be sure to test for colorfastness before use, and check the label of your cleaning agent to make sure it’s appropriate for the task before applying it to any surface.
While sitting in your favorite chair probably won’t poison you, it may be bad for your spine. Bad office furniture can contribute to a number of problems including back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and circulatory issues. If you find that you are experiencing pain on a regular basis, try replacing some of your commonly used furniture with more ergonomically correct versions.
Lead used to be a common ingredient in paint, gasoline, and even in old plumbing. Although banned for decades now, lead paint may have been used in your home and leaded gas may have contaminated the soil in your yard. To reduce your exposure to lead, dust regularly, remove your shoes before entering your home and have the paint on your walls tested for lead. If lead paint exists, contact a certified contractor to remove it and repaint your home with latex. Another more common lead contaminant is newspaper ink, which still contains lead. While it isn’t harmful to read newspapers, lighting a fire with them can leave behind lead particles, even in the ash.
Most tap water supplies these days are treated with chlorine when passing through water treatment plants. While this is an effective way to kill harmful bacteria in the water, ingesting too much of it can lead to cancers of the bladder and rectum. You don’t have to resort to drinking bottled water, but the installation of a charcoal filtration system on your kitchen faucet and shower head will significantly reduce the amount of chlorine you consume.
Common household cleansers do a great job of ridding your home of harmful bacteria and viruses, but many can inadvertently harm you as well. Instead of running the risk of accidentally poisoning yourself or your family, switch to green alternative cleaning agents such as baking soda, lemon juice, ammonia, and vinegar.
While carpets appear to be innocuous, they can pose many dangers inside the home. Carpets are made from synthetic plastic fibers that release harmful formaldehyde into the air as they break down over the years. Not only that, but they provide a safe haven for bacteria, mold spores, dust, dust mites, fleas, pet dander, pollen and much more. You can eliminate all of these hazards by replacing your carpet with hardwood or laminate flooring.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is created when combustible materials don’t burn completely. Carbon monoxide is a hazard during all times of the year, but especially during the winter months when fireplaces and fuel heaters are used to heat your home. Installing a carbon monoxide tester is a good idea, but you should also have your fireplace, gas water heater, gas stove and furnaces checked for proper venting to ensure that you won’t end up with carbon monoxide built up in your home.
Cockroaches, mice, silverfish, dust mites, and many other common household pests exist in most if not all homes at one point or another. The presence of these pests can be harmful in several ways. Droppings from these animals can infect food, air and water, causing a multitude of health issues. Whether there is evidence of an infestation or not, it is a good idea to have a professional pest control agent inspect your home and eliminate these harmful guests annually.
Many allergies are blamed on pet dander, dust, pollen and other irritants, but most of the coughing and wheezing caused by allergens in your home are caused by mold. Mold of all different types thrive in our homes due to high humidity. Dripping faucets, leaky roofs, and even the fog from hot showers are all usual suspects that contribute to mold growth, but other contributors such as space heaters, furnaces, gas logs, and fireplaces can also send water vapor into your home, allowing mold to flourish. Keeping your home’s moisture content under control is the key to keeping mold at bay. Installing a dehumidifier in your home, having your basement sealed and waterproofed, and keeping your roof and plumbing in good repair will go a long way to keeping mold under wraps.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to make your home a healthier place to spend your time. With a few simple changes, you could notice a vast improvement in your health and overall well-being.