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How to Prevent Common Toxins from Taking Over Your Home

How to Prevent Common Toxins from Taking Over Your Home

 

Unless you have a severe allergy or have had a reaction to a chemical, cleaner, or pollutant that sends you straight to the doctor, you may not know if there are toxins in your home damaging your health. Our homes are supposed to be safe spaces, but from mold growing inside a wall to allergens in the air, they’re often quite the opposite. Many times, you’ll be able to identify a toxin in your home when you see the tale-tell black dots of mold or smell a faint but persistent odor from vinyl flooring. Other times, a toxin is silent but deadly.

 

Before you take a sledgehammer to your kitchen wall, there are some common-sense ways you can reduce the toxins in your home and prevent pollutants and allergens from wreaking havoc on your health.

 

Clean Your Indoor Air

When was the last time you opened a window? Keeping the air circulating in your home is key to reducing allergens and pollutants. Other ways you can improve the quality of your home’s air — along with the quality of your health — include:

 

  • Purchasing plants that are known air filters, like peace lily and English ivy.
  • Cleaning and changing your air conditioning filters regularly. Air filters can transform your air by cleaning out as much as 99.9 percent of the pollutants in it. Remember to use a tape measure to find the correct size; there are many custom-sized filters available, so it’s important to know the exact size you need as well as the difference between nominal and actual sizes.
  • Making sure all ventilation fans, like the ones typically found in kitchens and bathrooms, release air outside and not into attics or crawl spaces.
  • Keeping humidity levels at or under 50 percent by purchasing a humidifier for arid climates and a dehumidifier for moist ones.

 

If the air you breathe in every day is loaded with pet dander, dust mite debris, and pollen, you and your family could be on the cusp of several serious respiratory illnesses — from uncomfortable allergies to debilitating asthma.

 

Know the Warning Signs

If you are curious about the toxins in your home, the next step is to know how to spot them. If you suspect something is amiss, you may want to test for specific toxins. You can hire a professional to make an assessment, or simply rely on keen observation. While it can be nearly impossible to create a completely toxin-free home, you can take precautions to minimize your family’s exposure. Knowing the warning signs will help you know what to test for.

 

  • Lead: In high levels, results in poisoning that can cause abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss. Especially dangerous for children, lead poisoning can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities.
  • Mold: Inhaling mold spores can lead to chronic runny nose, red eyes, rashes, sneezing, and asthma.
  • Radon: Leaking into your home through cracks in the foundation, radon can ultimately lead to lung cancer.

 

Some toxins are odorless and colorless, such as radon and carbon monoxide. Install a carbon monoxide detector to keep your family safe, especially if you have gas appliances, such as stoves and hot-water heaters. If anyone in your home has problems with hearing, consider getting one with a loud alarm. It’s also wise to occasionally get your home tested for carbon monoxide by professionals to ensure nothing is amiss.

 

Avoid Bringing in Toxins

Did you know that over time, certain kinds of furniture can leak formaldehyde, or that homes built before the 70s may have electrical wiring that emits polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which can lead to cancer? You can avoid bringing in toxins to your home by:

 

  • Avoiding smoking tobacco in the home.
  • Replacing cabinets made from particleboard, which emits formaldehyde, with stainless steel or formaldehyde-free fiberboard.
  • Purchasing fabrics made from organic natural fibers and avoiding bedding, curtains, or clothing with pesticides or chemicals.
  • Sleeping on mattresses made from natural cotton or natural latex.

 

Keeping your finger on the pulse of toxins in your home is an ongoing chore, but it is one that gets easier over time. Making these healthy decisions an everyday choice will not only change your home, it will change your life.