Air pollution doesn’t just come from vehicles and factories. There are a number of items we frequently use in our homes that can be very detrimental to indoor air quality. This is such a prevalent issue that the Environmental Protection Agency named indoor air pollution one of the top five environmental health risks last year. However, many people are oblivious to the damage it causes because symptoms of exposure can take years to appear. Here are a few things you use in the home that could be eroding your health.
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Liquids and gels used to clean surfaces of windows, stoves, and bathrooms can be found in most every home. While you don’t need to be a doctor to realize you probably shouldn’t put this stuff in your mouth, the toxic chemicals in these products get into the air and into your lungs. This is especially true if they come in spray bottles. There is evidence that prolonged exposure to spray-on cleaning agents doubles your risk of developing asthma. In addition, there are certain combinations of cleaners that can produce a very dangerous chlorine gas. There are alternatives though. There are old fashioned options such as baking soda and a range of non-toxic alternatives on the market today.
Lead paint was only banned about 30 years ago in the USA. Many older houses still have this dangerous substance on their walls, where it is still producing dust. Even a fresh coat of non-lead paint often contains harmful chemicals and carcinogens. Even paint and glue used in arts and crafts projects can be harmful. If you use paint in the house, make sure to keep the windows open and the house well ventilated. Depending on how sensitive you are you may want to avoid the house altogether for a few days after it’s been painted. But even after the paint has dried, harmful chemicals can still linger. Consider using low or no VOC paints as an alternative.
The health risk associated with your carpets is twofold. They are a magnet for a variety of irritants such as mites, fungus, and pet dander. In addition, formaldehyde is often used during the manufacturing of new carpets. While you can find carpets that were produced without the use of chemicals on the market, the dust and dirt is bound to come along eventually. Make sure you vacuum your carpet regularly and well. And once again, if you have family members in the home that are particularly vulnerable, consider avoiding this hazard altogether and have hard floors in your home.
In addition to all these other precautions, make sure that your body’s natural defenses are not compromised. Indoor air tends to be much drier than outdoor air. When the lining of your nose gets dried up, it becomes harder to capture contaminants and prevent them from reaching your lungs. Install a humidifier in the home to keep a healthy level of moisture in the air. While you can’t completely eliminate the problem, these simple steps can make your home a safer place to breath.