Inside your home can be 5 times more toxic than outdoors. This is attributed to a number of different factors including poor air-quality, off-gassing from furniture, pesticides brought inside from footwear and harmful plastics in the form of food containers. We all want to protect ourselves and families from harm and ridding your home of dangerous materials and chemicals is great way to start.
The air quality inside your home is very important for your respiratory and overall health. Wondering where to begin? You can add a little more freshness to your home by opening up your windows, which in turn will allow the air in your home to flow out, helping to remove dust and mold spores that can occur in poorly ventilated spaces. After realizing the health benefits of plants, you may want to give your green leafy friends a hug. According to a study conducted by NASA in the 1980's house plants are effective in removing harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, ammonia and other chemicals. Peace lilies seem to be the superheroes of all house plants as they are very inexpensive at about $14.00 for a medium sized pot and remove the top 6 most common and harmful chemicals found inside homes. When certain plants bloom they can add a beautiful fragrance to the air and offer a natural alternative to products like Glade and Febreze.
In keeping with this, labeling these particular products "air-fresheners" is actually a misnomer. If one were to take a look at the ingredients found in these products, freshness is the last thing that comes to mind because they actually add more pollutants to the air in your home. What's the alternative? Natural essential oils emit pleasant fragrances without the use of chemicals. One such oil is Frankincense, which is extracted from the Boswellia tree commonly found in Northern Africa. This oil has an earthy smelling fragrant and is used in aromatherapy to aid in relaxation. It was also one of the gifts supposedly given to Christ at a young age by a wise man, so it also has spiritual and meditative connotations as well. Frankincense contains antibacterial properties and acts as a natural air purifier when diffused. If you are searching for a more perfume-like scent that is similar to the ones found in a Glade plug-in, Lavender oil will provide the smell of spring in your home all year long. If you suffer with asthma or simply have a stuffy nose, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are very effective in relieving congestion and clearing sinuses.
Perhaps the most obvious way to improve air quality in your home is to avoid smoking inside, since cigarette smoke contains thousands of poisonous chemicals that will negatively affect the health of humans and pets. Kicking the habit completely will also be beneficial as the chemicals contained in cigarette smoke can cling to clothing long after you've finished lighting up, further diminishing the air quality in your home. Fabric is notorious for trapping allergens and chemicals so you may also want to consider the way in which you choose to clean your clothes. Seeking an organic dry cleaning service can help you to avoid carcinogenic materials, but be aware that some companies have been fined for using organic labels without receiving proper certification. Wet cleaners also use industrial grade driers and mild eco-friendly cleaning solutions to remove stains and odour from clothing. Finally don't be alarmed by the label that says "dry clean only". Quite often, these labels are added by clothing companies to prevent lawsuits in the event that clothing is damaged but you can gently wash your dry clean only clothing to avoid the added cost of a professional cleaner.
Pretty Furniture, Ugly Chemicals
Sometimes the most attractive pieces of furniture are the most toxic. Perfluorinated compounds or (PFCs) and formaldehyde are just some of the chemicals found in furniture that is linked to cancer and other diseases. In order to prevent these chemicals from wreaking havoc in your home, you may want to revaluate your taste in furniture. Stain resistant fabric found on couches, curtains and clothing often contain PFCs as means of offering the consumer some convenience, but the health risks posed by the chemical far outweigh the benefits of not having to clean a stain. Where your furniture comes from may also be a factor as some countries do not have any regulations on the chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process. Investing in custom made furniture will give you the power to choose your own unique style as well as the chemicals you would like to avoid. Using solid wood with little to no varnishes or lacquer is best if you have small children in your home. Try to avoid using low quality laminate flooring, as formaldehyde contents in laminate flooring can sometimes exceed the emissions level recommended by the World Health Organization. Finally, it is important to remember that it can take up to 12 years for furniture to finish the off-gassing process, so careful consideration should be made before you purchase your next bedroom set.
No more Toxic Mess
It is pretty daunting to think about all the products in your home that pose potential health hazards to you and your family, but there are a lot of factors you can control such as the products you choose to clean your house. Most popular cleaning products contain bleach, parabens and ammonia but there are also alternatives that are becoming more available than before. Most supermarkets now carry household cleaners that are completely free of chemicals. They may be a bit expensive but the peace of mind is probably worth the money.
If you are into DIY's you can also make your own cleaning solutions using vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. Lemons are known for their ability to eliminate bacteria while leaving a pleasant citrus scent. Baking soda is also an excellent bleach substitute as it removes stains and eliminates even the most awful odours. Baking soda works miracles on stains left behind in coffee and tea cups. Simply let the affected dishware soak for about 5 minutes and you will see the stains magically disappear. Another effective way to avoid germs and harmful chemicals is to avoid wearing shoes inside your home. Even if you just forgot the keys make sure you take your shoes off before you re-enter as pesticides and other chemicals remain on your shoes for a very long time. Buy a mat with hard bristles so you can wipe off the excess dirt outside instead of on your indoor mat. If you have a bit of time once each month, wear gloves and use a hose to wash the bottom of the soles of your shoes especially if you keep them in your bedroom closets. Finally, make an effort to avoid antibacterial soaps that use chemicals such as triclosan. According to an article from CBC news "This chemical is highly toxic to organisms in ... receiving waters and also persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment, as well as having endocrine active properties (in humans),"
Ditch the plastic Tupperware
Many plastics even ones that are BPA free still contain harmful chemicals that can lead to cancer and disturb fertility. Try to stick to glass dishware only. If you use the microwave, you don't need to use that generic plastic bowl to cover your food a glass plate cover is fine. If you have an infant, it is best to use glass bottles, that way; you won't have to play the harmful plastic guessing game. If you drink purified water, you can install reverse osmosis or alkaline water filters that hook up to the tap in your home instead of using the big plastic bottle.
The final and perhaps most important suggestion is to rid your home of negative attitudes and energies. According to Health Canada, illnesses like heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and mental health problems can develop much faster when the person who is affected is under stress. Even if your home is chemical-free, having a negative and critical attitude can pollute the space causing you and others around you to experience anxiety and stress. The weight of the world can be overwhelming, whether you're experiencing issues at work, financial burdens or simply annoyed with the daily traffic jams. Take some time alone each day to pray and meditate or listen to soothing music. The calm you will feel afterwards can empower you handle stressful events without making them dictate the atmosphere in your home. After all, your home should be a sanctuary not a war zone.