What Do The Characteristics Of A Healthy Home Include?

The characteristics of a healthy home are extremely important to know and understand. Toxic chemicals and other pollutants have found their way into our homes in some very creative ways, and knowing the characteristics of a healthy home can help you identify where they've entered and helps you remove them permanently.

The characteristics of a healthy home encompass every room of the home, and it is recommended to start in one area and move forward one room at a time. Things to look out for are hidden toxic chemicals, heavy metals, fumes and other indoor pollutants.

What Are The Characteristics Of A Healthy Home In The Kitchen?

The characteristics of a healthy home in the kitchen include finding and removing chemicals you may not know are there. Toxic chemicals can be alarmingly sneaky in that many are found throughout the kitchen and do not require a warning label. Of course, we all know to stay away from cleaning chemicals that do come with warnings on the labels, but it is also important to keep them locked up and out of reach of children and pets. Putting them in a cabinet with a baby lock may be frustrating to get around when you need them, but can potentially save a life.

A common kitchen chemical that needs no label is bisphenol A (BPA). It is found in many hard plastics and has been linked to neural and behavioral problems in infants. It has been removed from baby bottles, but if you're still using the old bottles from your first pregnancy, it is worth your time to ensure they are BPA free. BPA is still found in most water bottles unless labeled BPA free. Investing in a stainless steel or glass reusable water bottle prevents this chemical from being consumed while also helping the environment. The Tree Tribe Stainless Steel Water Bottle (Amazon for 25.42 with Prime shipping) is BPA free and Eco-friendly.

Another characteristic of a healthy home found in the kitchen is replacing your non-stick cookware. Your non-stick pots and pans are coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), when you cook at an elevated temperature, this chemical becomes active and the fumes may give you flu-like symptoms. Consider using a cast iron pan and staying away from anything labeled 'non-stick'.

One other chemical of note that is found in the kitchen is mercury. If you consume a large enough amount of certain types of fish, you are exposing yourself to high levels of mercury. Unfortunately, we have polluted our lakes and rivers to the point where the fish are becoming toxic. Some fish to limit yourself on include, mackerel, swordfish, ahi tuna, and marlin.

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What Are The Characteristics Of A Healthy Home In The Garage? 

The characteristics of a healthy home in the garage include moving or eliminating the use of some chemicals that should be a little more obvious, but still worth mentioning. An attached garage that houses a car creates a problem with gas fumes. There will always be a way for those fumes to leach into the home. There is also the high potential of other engine liquids leaching into the home and adding to the air pollutants. Additionally, if you store left over paint, varnishes or any solvents in the garage, you are adding to the problem. Try storing them in a detached shed, if available, and consider leaving the car in the drive way.

What Are The Characteristics Of A Healthy Home In The Bedroom? 

The characteristics of a healthy home in your bedroom include removing two of the biggest pollutants in the home. First is your mattress. If you sleep on a 'traditional' mattress, it is most likely made up of polyurethane foam that was legally required to be drenched in flame retardant chemicals. In the US, it is a legal requirement that mattresses withstand a certain amount of heat before catching on fire, allowing the occupant enough time to realize what is happening and leave the bed. This is a great life-saving measure, but it comes with a heavy cost. The most common flame retardant used up until 2005 was polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). It was banned because of its tendency to disrupt thyroid hormone activity. If your mattress is from 2004 or before, it may be time to invest in a new one and weigh the pros and cons of buying a 'traditional' mattress.

The other big pollutant is your clothing. If you dry clean your clothes, you are allowing them to be soaked in perchloroethylene (perc), a volatile organic compound that is fantastic at removing stains, but extremely harmful to your body. It has been proven to remain on clothing for several days after the dry cleaning. The EPA labels perc as toxic and, "a probable human carcinogen. Exposure to enough of it can lead to eye, nose and throat irritation, and has also been associated with neurological effects."

What Are The Characteristics Of A Healthy Home In The Home As A Whole?

Now that you've identified the characteristics of a healthy home in the three biggest rooms, we can look at the house as a whole. One of the first items to check off your list is cleaning the floors. Carpets are perfect magnets for indoor air pollutants and particulates. Using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum keeps your carpets as clean and pollutant free as possible, without throwing the dirt and debris back into the air. The EPA writes that "vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air during and after vacuuming as well as in your ducts." Non-HEPA vacuums simply do not have enough of a filter to prevents the particulates from being re-entered into the air.

Another good thing to check off your list is installing carbon monoxide (CO2) alarms. These will go off whenever the levels of CO2 in the home become dangerous to your health. The Kidde KN-COPP-3 Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amazon for 29.12 with Prime shipping) offers a digital display to show you the current levels as well as the peak levels since it was last reset. It is recommended to only install CO2 alarms that have a battery backup.

Finally, the last item on your checklist should be an air duct cleaning. Having your air ducts cleaned every 5-7 years helps prevent harmful build-ups of pollutants and particulates in your vents and returns. Using a reputable company that uses the National Air Duct Cleaner Association's (NADCA's) preferred process of cleaning ensures that you are having your air ducts cleaned properly and efficiently. It will help reduce the release of harmful chemicals back into the home to recirculate again and again.

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