People are spending more time at home than ever to protect themselves from infectious diseases. However, could conditions in your shelter make you and your family ill? Even if you keep a tidy home, pollutants can lurk.
If you want to make your home healthier, the following nine tips can help you identify and eliminate hidden threats. Tackle one area at a time and, in a matter of weeks, you’ll breathe more comfortably in your space.
Most people in the U.S. are fortunate enough to enjoy clean drinking water from the tap. However, the age of your home and the type of plumbing system you have can render things unsafe. Take the following steps.
1. Check Your Pipes
If your home was built before 1950, you should pay attention to your pipe material. Most new builds contain PVC piping, which is a safe alternative. However, older homes may have lead pipes, which can poison you or your kids over time. You can contact a water safety lab to have them do a test, or your child’s pediatrician can recommend a blood test. If their levels seem elevated, you must identify the source.
2. Test for Arsenic
If you live in a rural area, you may get your water from a well instead of a city system. If you do, you need to test for levels of arsenic, a chemical that can cause cancer and death in extreme cases. If your water tests high for this substance, you’ll need to invest in a filtration system to make it safe to drink. These systems also provide peace-of-mind for renters whose landlords refuse to fix old pipes.
3. Filtration Matters
Even if you aren’t at risk of chemical contamination from your drinking water, sediment can make it taste funky. This unpleasantness can make you hesitate to drink enough to stay hydrated. Plus, some particles can irritate sensitive skin. A reverse osmosis filtration system removes various impurities, as well as lowering arsenic and lead levels.
Your Indoor Air
The air in your home can be two to five times filthier than the stuff you breathe outdoors. Before you blame seasonal allergies for your respiratory symptoms, consider taking the following actions to improve your indoor air quality.
4. Changing Filters
If you use an inexpensive fiberglass filter, you should change it once a month, possibly more frequently if you have pets or smokers in your home. Try to coordinate these changes when you pay your rent or mortgage to make it a snap to remember. Pleated models last longer, but make sure you write out a schedule to keep on top of this chore.
5. Rip Out the Carpet
One of the things that exacerbates your asthma may lie right beneath your feet. Of all flooring surfaces, carpets do the best job of trapping pollutants. Even the chemicals you use to shampoo your rug may release harmful substances into the air. For fewer headaches — and easier maintenance — opt for tile or hardwood instead.
6. Replace Scented Candles
You light candles to make your home air smell better, but you could be making yourself sick, too. Traditional paraffin wax can release toxins like toluene into your interior. For a better alternative, opt for natural essential oils in a diffuser. These also raise humidity levels, which decreases your chances of illness by keeping your mucus membranes moist.
Once you improve your air and water, you should feel significant relief from your nagging symptoms. However, there are a few other things you can do to make your home even healthier.
7. Building Materials
Home furnishings can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), substances that become gasses or vapors when emitted. You can find these in everything from the paint for your walls to that new dining room table you bought. When making improvements, look for those labeled “VOC-free.”
While feeling chilly won’t make you sick, it can lower your immune response. Caulk or weather-strip doors and windows if you catch a draft when you walk past or sit near them. Even some newer homes can contain asbestos, which becomes toxic when airborne. If it becomes a problem, you will need to contact a professional.
9. Improve Accessibility
Finally, if you are prone to falls, consider rearranging your furniture. Adequate walkway space means less chance of stumbling into things or tripping over them. If you have neurological issues that make you less steady than you used to be, a set of grab bars in your bathroom can be a lifesaver.
Make Your Home a Healthy Haven
You’re probably spending more time at home to keep your family safer. Make sure you don’t expose your loved ones to unseen health hazards by identifying and correcting them.