Just Another Manic Monday
Or perhaps there are hidden allergens in your home that are impacting your energy levels and well-being
You’re feeling tired, a bit grouchy, and you haven’t been able to shake that headache since this morning. Sure it could be just one of those days—or there could be some everyday items around your home that are causing you, or members of your family, to have an allergic reaction.
From choosing the right vacuum cleaner, to using low-emissivity paint and cleaning products with fewer chemicals, there are ways to reduce the chances of your home making you sick. Here are five easy things you can do today to make your home a healthier place to live.
ENSURE ADEQUATE VENTILATION
Fresh air is vital to our health and wellbeing, and every home should have a sufficient throughput of fresh air. Open windows frequently and change the filters in your air conditioning system on a regular basis to ensure optimum performance. Always work in a well-ventilated area when using paint or cleaning products, and go outside to take regular breaks.
“Consider buying some air-purifying plants that naturally remove pollutants from the air,” says Lisa Walsh of R.S. Walsh Landscaping in Fort Myers. “NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied house plants as a way to purify the air in space stations. Topping the list of common air-purifying plants are the peace lily, aloe, Draceana marginata, Ficus benjamina, English ivy, aglaonema
FOR A MORE HYGIENIC HOUSE, CHOOSE A VACUUM CLEANER WITH A HEPA (HIGH-EFFICIENCY PARTICULATE AIR) FILTER THAT CAN TRAP THE SMALLER PARTICLES THAT OTHER CLEANERS MAY RECIRCULATE BACK INTO THE AIR.
and chamadorea or bamboo palm. All these plants can be found locally at In The Garden, a garden center located on Sanibel-Captiva Road across from the Sanibel School.”
CHECK THE LABEL ON CLEANING PRODUCTS
Many household cleaners, sprays and building materials contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that evaporate into the air and can lead to headaches, dizziness and sinus irritation. Look for products with natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide that don’t release these irritants.
VOCs, such as formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, can be found in a number of household products, including paint, pesticides, upholstery and adhesives. Consider using low-VOC paints, which are designed to give off less harmful gases and reduce the use of harsh chemical solutions for a healthier indoor environment. Consult an approved painter or decora- tor to discuss which products would be suitable for your requirements.
USE A HEPA-FILTER TO CONTROL POLLUTANTS
Regular vacuuming helps to reduce common indoor allergens and pollutants like dust, dirt, pollen and pet dander. For a more hygienic house, choose a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter that can trap the smaller particles that other cleaners may recirculate back into the air. Consider wood, tile or vinyl flooring as an alternative to carpet, all of which are easier to keep clean and dust free.
“Carpeting and rugs can be a breeding ground for allergy-causing substances that may trigger asthma and other pulmonary conditions,” says Chris Smith of Designers’ Rug Center in Naples. “Steam cleaning carpets on a regular basis can help reduce the presence of dust mites and other allergens in your home. We recommend that you have
IF YOU HAVE NOTICED A MUSTY OR EARTHY ODOR, PEELING PAINT, GREEN DUSTING (MOLD BLOOM) OR DISCOLORED SPOTS ON CLOTHING, FURNITURE OR WALLS IN YOUR HOME, IT COULD BE A SIGN THAT MOLD IS PRESENT.”
—JON LAVENDER, INSURANCE FIRE & WATER RESTORATIONS, FORT MYERS
rugs professionally cleaned every three years. It is amazing how much dirt collects in carpet and rugs when left untended.”
Florida’s warm climate provides excellent conditions for mold to grow, with high humidity, condensation and standing water all contributing to the growth of mold and mildew indoors. Mold is not always visible; it can grow behind wallpaper, under carpets and between insulated areas, and it can cause respiratory problems and skin outbreaks if left untreated.
“If you have noticed a musty or earthy odor, peeling paint, green dusting (mold bloom) or discolored spots on clothing, furniture or walls in your home, it could be a sign that mold is present,” says Jon Lavender of Insurance Fire & Water Restorations in Fort Myers. “If there is visible mold and the wall is non-porous, you can simply wipe it with a wet cloth along with a disinfectant mixture. However, if the mold reappears, there could be water intrusion or a humidity problem. In this case, it is best to consult with a licensed mold remediation company as soon as possible.”
LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE
According to the American Migraine Foundation, more than 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, which can be exacerbated by internal lighting in the home that is too bright. So choosing the correct light bulb can make a difference.
“LEDs will reduce eyestrain; there is no flickering as found in florescent lamps,” says Steven Stafford, president of Stafford Engineering, Inc. in Bonita Springs. “When compared to incandescent lamps, the LEDs save much more energy.” LED bulbs are also a low-cost and environmentally friendly source for optimum lighting.
Other experts who work with lighting support the use LEDs as well. Ben Mading, CEO of Green Secure Energy, in Bonita Springs, says that not only do LED lights allow consumers to save energy, they create utmost vibrancy in homes.
“LED lights last four-to-five times longer than traditional lighting, which reduces maintenance and replacement costs, as well as reducing ambient heat, allowing greater savings on air-conditioning costs,” points out Ann Cemer, senior project manager at Green Secure Energy Solutions. “[LED lighting] produces less glare, better visibility and shows true colors whether indoors or out."
And since our brains tend to function best in natural light, it’s better to carry out activities, such as reading, in well-lit areas wherever possible.
Filling your home with air-purifying plants is an easy way to naturally remove pollutants; steam cleaning carpets is the key to controlling dust mites and allergens.
Home tips: Look for cleaning products with natural ingredients, such as vinegar and baking soda; change your air conditioning system’s filter more frequently in summer.
A longer lifespan and electrical efficiency have made LED light bulbs popular with homeowners.