Your home should be an oasis; a safe place where you go to relax at the end of a long work day, where you spend time with your loved ones, and where you rest and recharge each night as you sleep. But the very place you go to seek comfort and peace may actually be making you sick. As Americans embrace green products, we need to look at not only our eco-footprint, but also how to make our homes natural, healthy havens.
Toxic Cleaning Products – For generations we’ve been told that a clean home is a healthy home but one check in your cleaning closet will likely reveal a host of chemicals. You think you’re doing your family a favor by using anti-bacterial wipes and disinfectant sprays but did you know those products contain pesticides? Furniture polish can contain silicone, butane gas and propane. And think of it, kids, by the very nature of their size and because they put everything in their mouths and are always, are especially vulnerable to these chemicals.
Look at the labels on cleaning products and choose ones with ingredients that you can pronounce. There are a growing number of non-toxic brands on the market and most supermarkets now carry at least one type of natural cleaning product. Make your own natural cleaners using basic ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and tea tree oil. Not only will they clean just as well as the store bought products, but they’ll smell better and save you money.
Unhealthy Bedding – You get under the covers and lay your head down on your pillow each night but did you know that your bedroom can be filled with formaldehyde, which outgases harmful VOC's? Formaldehyde is released from everyday household furnishings and bedding like drapery, bed linens and upholstery, and has been known to cause wheezing, allergic reactions and even serious illness.
Replace old bedding with organic linens, get rid of ‘wrinkle-free’ and other sheets with synthetic additives and get organic cotton sheets. You can also find organic mattresses covers made from natural raw ingredients that will provide an allergen barrier.
Poor Indoor Air Quality – The EPA lists indoor air quality as one of the top 5 environmental health risks the U.S. faces today.
The simplest way to improve the air quality is to open windows and let the fresh air in! Unfortunately, sometimes -- like in the winter -- that’s not an option. What you can do is get an air purifier with a HEPA filter. There are many different models including portable ones that can remove dust, pollens, dander, odors, chemical vapors and more. Also, replace your furnace air filters regularly.
Non-filtered Drinking and Bath Water -- Chlorine, parasites, and heavy metals may be in your drinking and bath water. Research has shown that chlorine and its assorted byproducts have been linked to serious illnesses like colon and bladder cancer. Most people don’t realize that they can also expose themselves to these contaminants while bathing.
The best way to ensure clean tap water is to install a whole house water filter. For a relatively small investment of under a thousand dollars, you can buy a reverse osmosis water filter system that will make the water from your tap cleaner than bottled water. Another option is installing separate shower head filters and faucet water filters. For either a whole house system or separate shower and countertop water filters, you need to change cartridges on a regular basis.
Electromagnetic Radiation -- Electricity in our homes and offices is such a part of modern day life that we don't even think it. Cooking, cleaning, watching TV, faxing, printing, everyday we rely on its convenience. But at what cost? The price we pay extends well beyond money. The more costly price is our health.
Electrical current speeding through miles of wires in our home and office walls creates electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These fields significantly disrupt the sensitive signals with which our brains and nervous systems communicate.
Scientific studies have shown that by reducing electromagnetic radiation from the bedroom, people slept better and even healed faster. Potential sources of electromagnetic radiation include building wiring, and electric appliances like alarm clocks. There are tests that can be performed to find out what circuit breakers and/or electric appliances need to be de-energized to reduce electromagnetic radiation.
Some ways to reduce electromagnetic radiation in your bedroom are to remove or unplug TV’s and radios before going to bed, and to switch to a battery operated alarm clock. You can also turn off the circuit breakers to the bedroom each night.