Your home is your refuge and the place where you may spend the greatest amount of time. The physical environment of your home can significantly affect your overall health, so it is important to take simple, proactive measures to ensure your home is the healthiest it can be. Listed below are some of the things you can do to create lasting health in your home for you and your family.
Filter your tap water
A tap water filter is one of the most important health purchases you can make. According to a Cornell University study, hundreds of manufactured chemicals have found their way into certain groundwater and other drinking water supplies since the 1970s. Leaking storage tanks and landfills, improper disposal of household and industrial products, and pesticide use may account for much of this contamination. Benefits of filtered drinking water are numerous and include better tasting and smelling drinking water, reduced risk for certain cancers and decreased likelihood of gastrointestinal problems, among others. Also, if the water tastes better, you are much more likely to drink it and drinking enough water is critical to maintaining good health.
Use homemade cleaning products
Homemade cleaning products - including bathroom cleaners, personal care products, laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid - are effective and affordable to prepare, and they decrease your exposure to potentially harmful substances included in conventional home cleaning products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that levels of approximately a dozen common indoor pollutants - chemicals used as ingredients in household products, including cleaning, disinfecting and cosmetic products - may be two to five times higher within your home than outside your home, regardless of whether you live in a rural, urban or industrial area. Exposure to indoor pollutants, notes the EPA, may cause headaches, dizziness and eye and respiratory tract irritation. Some indoor pollutants are also known to be cancer-causing agents in humans.
The basic ingredients for homemade cleaners are probably ones you have in your home already - white vinegar, liquid soap, baking soda and rubbing alcohol, among others. There are numerous sites online that provide recipes for homemade cleaning products, and it is best to look for a proven recipe rather than create your own combinations that could prove toxic.
Test VOCs/eliminate mold sources
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are another illness-inducing problem you might consider evaluating in your home. VOCs are carbon-based chemicals that are volatile at room temperature, which means they readily release gases into the air you breathe. Most homes - especially new homes - are full of items that release small quantities of VOCs like toluene, acetone and formaldehyde, such as carpet, adhesives, paints, certain plastics, cleaning products and personal care products. VOCs may cause several health problems, including nausea, loss of coordination, and liver, kidney and central nervous system damage. Some VOCs may cause cancer in humans.
Mold can be an issue, particularly in Florida. Obviously, water damage in the home can result in mold growth so it needs to be addressed and corrected as quickly as possible. Mold can also be present in air conditioner systems or in duct work so regular maintenance there is important. Also, those who suffer with allergies – to mold or other irritants – may benefit from air purification – either on a room-by-room basis or as part of the whole house ventilation system.
If you have concerns about the environmental safety of your home, consult your health care practitioner or other trusted expert. They can offer relevant suggestions about how to create a healthy and nontoxic home environment that will benefit all concerned.
Dr. Erika Hamer, DC, DIBCN, DIBE, is a chiropractic neurologist and the owner of Ponte Vedra Wellness Center, offering chiropractic care, personal fitness training and related health and wellness services at offices in Ponte Vedra Beach and Nocatee Town Center.