“Happy New Year” is a message brought to you by dozens of “start your diet” ads in every modern form of media. TV, radio, print and social media advertisers will endlessly pitch ways to slim down and get healthy by buying their programs.
We are keenly aware of the health risks of a bad diet. On the other hand, we are often less aware that we have people with debilitating and often undiagnosed illnesses such as CIRS and MCS due to environmental illness. We are exposed to air borne contaminants that cause cancer, respiratory disease, asthma and countless other afflictions.
We look to the New Year for a fresh start and better times. Why not include our indoor air quality in that time of renewal?
Functional Medicine has evolved to help diagnose environmental illness, but we need to avoid those exposures in our homes. “Avoidance” is now considered an important medical treatment. The problem is that we need to know what to avoid in this world of more and more pollutants in everyday household items.
Indoor air health risks include dust, mold, bacteria, volatile compounds from fragrances and cleaners, formaldehyde, pet dander, dust mites, radon, carbon monoxide and a host of other exposures. Our energy saving technologies have reduced the fresh air in our homes while at the same time manufacturers have added toxins to thousands of consumer and construction products.
We often don’t realize that common house dust is home to mold, dust mites, bacteria, pollen and allergens. Accumulated dust just sneaks up on you day by day, year by year. It hides in carpet, cabinets, books and your furniture. When a person is ill, it’s more difficult to do regular cleaning which makes a bad dust and particle problem worse.
The process of professionally cleaning a home is referred to as “deep cleaning” and is an important tool in mold remediation and reducing many environmental toxics including lead. It should be done using containment, specialized exhaust equipment, air filtration and personal protection for the people performing that work.
Many mold remediation firms shortcut proper treatment and simply spray or fog using toxic chemicals without first cleaning mold and allergens from surfaces. Failing to clean and remove the existing contamination is a primary cause of continued environmental illness after failed remediations.
Secrets to Reducing Dust, Mold and Allergens
VOC’s and Other Indoor Air Toxins You Actually Buy and Bring Home
We live in a world of chemicals. Some are products to clean, some to make things smell, some to make things work better and others to make our homes look pretty. Many of these thousands of chemicals can make some of us very ill.
Synthetic fragrances are in almost every cleaning or laundry product, air fresheners or personal care product. They are often added to packaging to entice consumers to select a product. The organic chemicals are not tested for their effect on people or listed on the packages. Select any product that has an odor and look up the MSDS for that product. In almost all instances internet search will reveal a list of chemicals you will not be able to pronounce or know how they will affect your health.
Furniture, cabinets, flooring and plastic materials usually have chemicals that off-gas in the home. Everything from plastic children’s toys to artificial Christmas trees can be a source of lead dust. Many cosmetics and personal care products have been found to have asbestos and almost all have VOCs.
Secrets to Reducing VOC Contamination
Walk through your home and check for water leaks and mold. These can sneak up on any homeowner. A tiny leak can cause a big mold problem over time. The earlier leaks are found, the less damage they cause and the easier they are to correct.
The most susceptible areas for mold in the home include finished basements, crawl spaces, areas with dirt floors, interior french drains, attics, areas with any leaks and areas that are not heated in cold weather. Homes with foam insulation systems and energy star construction are also extremely likely to harbor hidden mold. Professional mold assessments are a good idea if you have any of these conditions and any family members with health issues.
Improve Your Home's Environment in the New Year
These suggestions will make you feel better in your home. It is your castle and should be the very best it can be. Take a couple of weekends and pick from the list of chores that can make your home healthier.