Home-Care Tips to Improve Your Air Quality and Well-Being

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Our homes should be places of respite and comfort, but sometimes they harbor hidden health or safety risks.  Thankfully, there are several ways you can improve the quality of your living environment for better health and well-being.  Here are some great tips. 

Allergens.  Allergens are a common issue for homeowners.  If you or a family member suffers with allergies, asthma, or hay fever, reducing allergens can be a huge step in improving your home environment.  Some experts suggest evaluating what each individual’s allergies are and taking steps throughout the home to reduce indoor triggers.

●      Flooring.  Carpeting traps allergens, so replacing it with smooth surface flooring such as hardwood, linoleum, or vinyl eliminates a big allergen burden.  If that isn’t feasible, choose a low-pile carpet, and shampoo frequently. 

●      Bedding.  Use synthetic products for bedding and enclose box springs, mattresses, and pillows in covers that are dust-mite-proof.  Wash bedding at least once weekly in hot water. 

●      Window coverings.  Choose window coverings that are easy to clean and don’t trap dust.

●      Windows.  Keep windows closed to reduce pollens and other contaminants, even during warmer months.  Use air conditioning to keep cool.  This will not only reduce incoming allergens but also help to reduce molds within the home.

●      Filters.  HEPA filters catch particles of dirt, pollen, and contaminants in your air, keeping the air cleaner.  Replace furnace filters with HEPA filters.  Adding air cleaners with HEPA filters and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can also reduce allergens. 

Black mold.  Black mold can cause a number of health issues, but some professionals say removal is a task you can tackle yourself.  Begin by eliminating the source of dampness to the area where mold is growing.  Then seal off the area from the rest of your home to prevent the spores from traveling.  Wear a respirator and face mask and cover your skin, including your arms and hands.  Remove any mold you can see with detergent and a sponge.  Then disinfect the area and adjacent areas with a commercial-grade black mold product. You can find this at your hardware store.  Carefully wrap and seal all materials that came into contact with the mold and dispose of them outside the home.

Asbestos.  If you live in a house built in the 1970s or earlier, your home may contain asbestos.  Asbestos may be present in any number of materials such as:

●      Insulation

●      Linoleum

●      Flooring glues

●      Caulking materials

●      Plaster

●      Roofing materials

●      Siding

●      Paints

●      Paneling

According to professionals at This Old House, the presence of asbestos is not necessarily dangerous if the source remains in good condition.  However, damaged materials release fibers into the air, potentially causing cancer.  If you plan to remodel or you have other reasons for concern, contact an industrial-hygiene firm to make an inspection.  The firm will collect samples to be analyzed and then provide you with an action plan for mitigation if asbestos is present.  Also the same firm can reevaluate once the mitigation is complete.  

Lead.  If your home was built prior to 1978, the United States Environmental Protection Agency warns it likely contains lead paint.  Deteriorating lead paint is highly dangerous and can lead to lead poisoning.  Surfaces with flaking paint or damaged window sills, doorframes, banisters, or porches, especially if toddlers might chew the materials, should be addressed immediately.  A lead-safe certified renovation firm can address lead-related issues. 

Budgeting.  If your home may contain asbestos or lead, chances are you will want to have the issue addressed.  ImproveNet notes most homeowners spend between $211 and $6,298 nationally to address home safety concerns related to lead and asbestos removal and improved air quality. 

Your healthy home.  The last place you want to face health hazards is in your home.  By taking proper steps, you can improve your living environment.  Reduce allergens in your home, eliminate black mold, and hire a professional if you are concerned about asbestos or lead.  These tips will provide you with a healthier home and peace of mind.