It seems like everyone these days is trying to make their home more eco-friendly, but why? It's not just about reducing their carbon footprint, although that's a great reason to invest in green home upgrades. Rather, more homeowners are waking up to the toxic substances present in their homes and realizing it's up to them to create a healthy living environment for their families.
There are a lot of sneaky ways your home can make you sick. Care.com explains that toxic substances are found in nearly every part of our homes from “The polyurethane we use to finish our floors, the paint on our walls, the glue used for wallpaper, our upholstery fabrics, rugs and even mattresses.” These items are made using substances that continue to off gas long after they've left the factory floor. When those chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds, are released into your home, they contribute to a variety of short- and long-term health problems.
Then there are the health risks that are naturally present. These include allergens such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites, as well as mold and radon. Like building materials, these are tough to avoid completely. However, there are things you can do to reduce their presence in your home and protect your family from allergy symptoms and serious health conditions such as asthma and lung cancer.
The easiest toxins to eliminate are those you invite into your home. These are the dangerous substances found in products you don't think twice before buying: household cleaners, air fresheners, craft supplies and clothes, just to name a few.
Now that you know where the health risks in your home are coming from, it's time to think seriously about reducing them.
Avoiding toxic household products is the easiest step to take because it saves you money too. Instead of buying overpriced cleaning products, make your own using safe, natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and Borax. Instead of VOC-emitting air fresheners, freshen up your space with non-toxic alternatives and by opening the windows a few minutes each day. Not only is outdoor air typically cleaner than indoor air, but also opening the windows gives VOCs that have accumulated in your home a chance to escape.
Next, get your home clean and keep it that way. A clean home isn't just nice to look at, but regular cleaning is key for removing pollen, dust and dander. It also gives you a chance to spot mold and eliminate it before it grows into a problem. If finding time to deep clean is a challenge, hire a pro to clean. Then, you only have to worry about maintaining it. You don't have to commit to a regular cleaning service; you can hire one-time help for anything from cleaning the carpets to cleaning the ducts by searching online. Just be sure to compare reviews and rates to find someone you trust.
Don't forget to clean the air. Houseplants are touted for their ability to filter pollutants, but if you're serious about cleaner air, you should buy an air purifier capable of filtering VOCs. Every homeowner should also change their HVAC air filters on schedule. AHS recommends buying in bulk so you're prepared when it's time to replace them.
Finally, it's time to think about big steps you can take to protect your family's health. Testing for radon and installing a radon mitigation system if levels are high is one important measure. If you have allergy sufferers in your home, you should also consider replacing carpeting with low-VOC hard flooring
When dangerous chemicals are present in the building materials used to construct homes, it's impossible to avoid them completely. However, there’s a lot you can do to reduce toxins in your home and create a healthier living environment. So, what are you waiting for? Start taking steps to preserve your family’s health today.
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