A home can look clean, but it can harbor harmful substances like lead, toxic paint traces, and mold spores. Even products like cleaning materials contain chemicals which are harmful to humans. Opening the windows and doors for up to 15 minutes a day can stop the air from stagnating and remove any gathering pollutants.
A senior researcher for the Environmental Working Group, Sonya Lunder, explains that avoiding toxins in the home is difficult, due to the way that they cling on to surfaces. But there are lots of things you can do to keep your home clean and increase the overall health of the household.
#1 Cleaning chemicals
Cleaning agents do well for reducing much of the stink associated with a dirty home. However they actually do very little protect humans. Whilst household cleaning chemicals poison bacteria and eliminate them, the chemical residues can still affect us in a very negative way.
It’s simple to see how this works. Spray a bottle of polish in the air and walk through the cloud. Most people begin to cough and splutter as the particles invade the respiratory system. The same principle applies to other cleaning chemicals.
The best option is to opt for more homemade cleaning agents. Bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice is a really potent agent for wiping out bacteria. It does this by changing the pH levels that bacteria need to flourish. And they also have a friendly scent which makes your home smell really fresh.
#2 Stop burning wood
Burning wood creates an increased amount of smoke. Chimneys filter out most of this smoke. The big danger is carbon, which appears as soot. Tiny black particles combine together to create the thick dark coating found in chimneys. Inevitably, some of these particles escape the fireplace and land in the home.
Carbon can invade the lungs and can cause a persistent cough. Sensitive breathers are particularly susceptible to an increase in carbon in the air. In many cases, it’s as bad as being exposed to second hand smoke.
#3 Smoke outside
It’s well-known that smoking is a highly dangerous habit. Whilst many states have moved to ban smoking in public places, smoking on private property remains a threat. Smoking isn’t just a danger for the smoker, it’s dangerous for everyone around the smoker.
In the 2004 study entitled Tobacco Smoking Increases Dramatically Air Concentrations of Endotoxin, scientists revealed how the potent endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) has a concentration 120 times higher than in smoke-free air. And LPS is one of the most potent inflammatory substances known to man.
If you live in a smoking household, ask any smokers to smoke outside and air out your premises each day to reduce this threat.
#4 Mold and mildew
Mold is commonly caused by water damage. Older houses, where cracks in the roof and walls are more prevalent, tend to experience this issue at some point. Solve the mold problem quickly by patching up any holes and ensuring water can’t enter and increase the level of moisture in the atmosphere.
The increase in mold caused by water was monitored after the effects of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In the 2010 study Mold Exposure and Health Effects Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita published in the Annual Review of Public Health, it highlighted how homes with large amounts of flooding had far more mold growth than those without.
Mold spores cause damage to the human respiratory system. They trigger the immune system after entering the nose, mouth, and eyes. The body responds by creating mucus and sending white blood cells to combat the problem. In the meantime, it leads to symptoms like sneezing, a scratchy throat, and a runny nose.
#5 The danger of dust
Dust is more dangerous than people think. Dust mites are a common allergen, but they’re also a hazard for those who don’t have an allergy.
The Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University, Andrea Ferrero, said how toxins like pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) cling to dust.
Just dusting them allows these dormant particles to become active again. Once in the air, they become just as harmful as they were when they were first released into the environment. The main danger is not knowing what’s in the air. Many dust particles could still contain particles which have been banned in recent years.
Rather than dusting, deal with dust by investing in tools dedicated to lifting dust from surfaces. Standard fabric cloths just move the dust around, and as already mentioned this can make it worse.
Consider investing in a high quality air filter. Any particles which have made it into your home can still cause damage, no matter how careful you are. An air filter catches these particles and stops them from attacking humans. After just a few days, the white filter will already have a thin coating of dust.
Try to reduce the number of carpets in your home. Carpets capture dust particles and hold them in. After vacuuming the carpet, it shakes them free from the fibers and releases them into the air. Carpets are also unhygienic for young children who are liable to become exposed to dangerous chemicals.
On a side note, it’s also a good idea to open windows sparingly. Never keep them open for the whole day because rush hour and the school run releases additional pollutants into the atmosphere. And these can steadily drift into the house, which undoes the benefits of opening the windows in the first place.