Home Maintenance Tasks to Keep You Healthier This Winter
It is that time of year when most of us are spending more time inside. Gone (for a while) are the days of eating on the patio and relaxing in the pool. With this much time spent inside, you want your house to be as healthy an environment as possible. However, air quality is a real problem when winter weather causes everyone (including the pets) to be stuck inside with the windows closed. The heater drying and re-circulating stale air just makes matters worse. Luckily, there are few things you can do to improve it.
Test your home
If you don’t do anything else on this list, you should at least test your home for radon and lead. Both can lead to very serious health issues. There are home testing kits available for both.
Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It is formed from the natural breakdown of uranium. It is usually found in soil and rock, but is sometimes found in well water. In normal circumstances, the gas dissipates harmlessly. However, it can become trapped in homes when it is formed under/around the foundation or if it is in the well water. At this point, it becomes dangerous to the inhabitants. Radon has been shown to cause lung cancer and is actually listed as the second highest cause of lung cancer behind smoking.
Nearly all soil has low levels of decaying uranium, the source of radon gas. However, certain regions will have more than others (see the EPA map #radonmap
). The unit of measurement for radon gas is the picocurie (pCi). Levels of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) or greater are considered by the EPA to be unsafe. If you have levels this high, you need a certified radon-mitigation expert to install a ventilation system.
Lead poisoning can affect all parts of the body, but the brain and nervous system are the most susceptible. Children are even more at risk than adults. Lead poisoning is hard to detect until levels in the body reach dangerous levels. There are several possible sources of lead poisoning the in the home, but there two common ones: lead paint and water.
The most common source is lead paint, which was banned in 1978. If your home was built before then, you might have a problem. The lead can become airborne if the paint starts flaking or if remodeling disturbs it. Have the paint in your home tested even if it isn’t flaking so you will know. If you do have lead paint, carefully explore your options for mitigation
, including encapsulation, removal, and replacement. The method you choose could affect your health and your ability to sell the house.
The other source for lead poisoning is your water. This is especially true if your house was built or the plumbing has not been updated since before 1980. Corrosion in older pipes can release lead and other contaminants into your water supply. You can purchase water testing kits from your local water supplier or a home improvement store.
The average six-room house collects 40 pounds of dust a year. That is the same size as a large bag of dog food or potting soil. Even worse, dust is not just small particles of dirt. Dust in the home usually consists of dirt, but also dead skin cells, animal dander and fur, dust mites, fabric fibers, and pollen. Dust is especially bad in the winter when the doors and windows are closed and the air is heated. Basically, all the dust and allergens are constantly recirculated. There are a couple of things, besides regularly washing linens, that will help keep the dust under control.
Microfiber cloths use an electrostatic charge to attract and hold dust. Instead of just pushing the dust around, it holds on to the dust and then you can wash them clean. Unlike regular cleaning towels, they will not leave behind lint to add to the fibers floating in the air.
Your carpet holds and traps many allergens, including pet dander, dust and dust mites. Walking on the carpet, even vacuuming, can release the particles to float in the air. By having your carpets professionally cleaned, you can eliminate these allergens. No, just renting a cleaner from your local shop won’t do the trick. Professional cleaners use steam cleaning which will kill the dust mites; special shampoo will kill the bacteria, and their high-powered vacuums will then pull everything out of the carpet. Your rented machines might give the appearance of a cleaner carpet, but they don’t have enough suction or the right cleansers to get everything.
Another option, if simple cleaning is not completely solving your dust and allergen problems is an air purifier. There are multiple types of purifiers
with different options, but the most effective is going to be a whole house purifier. Smaller units will only clean one room and dust will not limit itself to just one room of your house. While initial cost will be higher on a whole house unit, it is the most cost-effective method for keeping allergens under control in all spaces of your home.
Whether you read the labels (keep out of the reach of children, hazardous) or simply have a hard time breathing when using them, you are probably aware that many of your cleaning products are not healthy for you. The dangerous chemicals in cleaners can cause anything from lung irritation, to lower sperm counts, to neurological disorders, to cancer.
To save yourself and your family from any of these dangerous side effects, replace your toxic cleaners with ones you can make from common household products. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and essential oils can all be combined for safe cleaning. You can clean anything from your granite counter tops
, to your oven
, to your drain
with these natural cleaners.
Using plants to purify the air is a controversial subject. It is said that they will clean the air of toxins such as formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke, and grocery bags), benzene (a carcinogen found in paints, plastics, and pesticides), and trichloroethylene (found in adhesives, spot removers and typewriter correction fluid). However, the NASA study which is the basis for these claims was done in a controlled environment, not in a home. Other studies have been conducted to support the claims, but results were inconclusive. One fact is indisputable: during photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They will help improve the levels of oxygen in your home as well as the humidity.
Finally, studies have shown plants to provide psychological and physical benefits, including lower blood pressure, improved reaction times and attentiveness, and improved well-being. Plants provide important benefits to help a home and it’s occupants be healthy and happy.
While the beauty of a snowy holiday season is great, by the middle of winter, most of us are tired of being cooped up inside. Engaging in winter sports can help with cabin fever, but you still have to come home to a closed-up house with dry, heated air. By paying attention to your air quality, you can greatly improve your health and enjoyment of the indoors in the winter.
253043 - 2023-07-18 07:46:10