Could Your Home Be Killing You? How To Make Your House Healthier

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How does your home environment affect your health and wellbeing?

Many of us have a goal to improve our health and in doing so, we rightly tend to examine our eating habits, our exercise regimes and other factors such as stress in our lives for personal relationships or our jobs. Far fewer of us consider all the ways in which our homes may be contributing.

Where we live is where we spend a majority of our time, so it’s not an area of our lives we should neglect. The ways in which the home environment can affect us are really quite diverse – they range from the efficacy of our cleaning routines to taking active steps to eliminate toxins. These factors can impact both on our day-to-day wellbeing and on the management of longer-term health concerns.

Home should be a safe haven, but many of us take it for granted that they are that way, when in fact there could be factors that need addressing urgently. Retreating from the rest of our busy lives into our homes is a given, so don’t underestimate how much of an impact the state of this environment has a bearing on our overall health.

If your home is unclean, unsafe or otherwise unconsidered, it can have serious consequences, especially if you aren’t in the best of health to begin with. Everyone’s home situation is different, and there will always be some factors that are unfortunately outside of your personal control – but there are things you can, and should be doing to make a difference where you can.

A few simple steps can really help to combat a whole host of issues, and here are some of the easiest fixes going to make your home a healthy, happy place to stay:

Invest in an Air Purifier

Figures from MIT in the U.S show that air pollution causes about 200,00 early deaths a year – a staggering number. And the problem is only increasing as urban sprawl brings with it more complications. But although there’s not much you can do about outside conditions, you can control the air quality in your home, although it’s something very few of us consider.

With studies linking air quality to negative effects on pregnant women, asthma, autism and even pre-term births, it’s something well worth addressing. On a daily basis, we breathe in everything from toxic chemicals in household paints to cleaning products and all manner of dust and allergens.

The type of purifier you need depends on your own circumstances. Those in small apartments may benefit from ionising air cleaners. These devices generate negative air ions, which attract dust, allergens and other positively charged airborne particles and lock them in. Studies have linked the use of the to the alleviation of symptoms of depression. However, they are only effective in smaller spaces.

Another alternative is having a HEPA filter installed in your home’s HVAC system. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, and they can remove 99.9% of particles above a certain size. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, they can be massively helpful, but remember that the filter needs changing every three months in order to remain effective. If your home doesn’t have a forced-air system, you can purchase a portable air cleaner with a replaceable HEPA filter.

Keep It Clean – Not Chemical

It goes without saying that a healthy home is a clean one – but many of us could do with revisiting our cleaning habits to improve our health. There are many aspects to consider, so start with a thorough review of your current weekly cleaning regime. Split it out into daily, weekly and bigger occasional jobs, and remember to include the cleaning of appliances that clean other things – such as your dishwasher or washing machine.

Try to avoid chemical-based cleaners that contain toxic elements and aggravate delicate immune systems. The standard household cleaner contains more than 60 toxic chemicals. Great, sanitary results can be achieved using natural solutions such as white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice, and are much kinder to your health and to the planet.

Also, if you like to burn candles, make sure that you steer away from petroleum-based paraffin wax candles, as these emit hazardous chemicals that can be linked to asthma, allergies and even cancer. 100 per cent soy candles or other vegetable-based waxes can help to reduce the harmful chemicals released into your home environment.

Another factor in cleanliness is reducing the waste that you produce and looking at how that rubbish is accumulated, stored and how often it’s collected. Waste needs to be disposed of in a manner that is as efficient and environmentally-conscious as possible. Temporary conditions such as home renovations, or season garden clearances can mean that the standard curb side collection isn’t sufficient, so consider arranging a Same-Day Rubbish Removal service if you have additional needs.

Clutter and waste around the house are not only trip hazards and attractors of harmful bacteria galore, but cluttered homes trigger a constant, low-level stress that is detrimental to everyday health.

Make Light of It

Light pollution, especially for those of us who live in cities, is a huge issue. Not only does it have an impact on wildlife and energy resources, but also about our health and our mental state -but how do you deal effectively with something so insidious and all-pervading?

If you’re constantly exposed to artificial light it can interfere with your sleep quality, a fundamental pillar of good health, especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions. It can even interfere with your metabolism. Start with the basics – by making sure that lights are not switched on when you don’t need them. Timer plugs can help with this by shutting off the power after a certain time that you set. If you have outdoor lighting, make sure it’s on motion sensor detectors so that it’s not left on unnecessarily – this has the other positive effect of slashing your monthly utility bills.

In your bedroom, make sure that you fit blackout blinds or curtains to keep out unwanted light and ensure that you get a peaceful and restorative night’s sleep. You can also try an eye mask if you live with others and need to compromise, or for when you travel. Also get into the habit of banning electronic devices from the room where you sleep. The particular type of blue light they emit blocks the brain from producing melatonin – the hormone that signals to the body that it’s time to sleep – so they are highly disruptive to your sleep cycle and mental wellbeing.

Tackle Your Food and Water

Many of us have considered carefully the links between good nutrition and health, and make changes to our diet to accommodate this, such as ‘eating a rainbow’ each day or introducing superfoods. But did you know what how you store your food is almost as important as what you’re eating?

If you keep leftovers in plastic containers, toxins from these plastics (called BPA) can leach into the food, causing hormonal imbalances and even possibly cancer. Eliminate these problems by switching to airtight lidded glass containers, which are chemically inert, and also recyclable. Similarly, Teflon coating used on non-stick cookware can expose household members to toxic polymers released as fumes from the synthetic polymers used to create the non-stick coating. Using cast iron or stainless steel is a much healthier option.

Your water source is also an important concern. Instead of using tap water direct from the sink, consider investing in a water filter to protect you and your family from contamination. Even though our water is filtered by our water companies, it still contains contaminants -which can include lead, chlorine, E.coli and pesticides. That is a definite consideration if you’re drinking that water and washing your food in it.

With filters, you can opt for a filter jug that sits in your refrigerator, a portable water bottle with replaceable charcoal filter discs or a filter that attached directly to your tap.

pexels-photo-323391Picture credit

Add Some Greenery

The humble houseplant can really have an impact on your home environment – more than just a part of the décor, they become a health necessity when you realise their benefits. Indoor plants purify our air by absorbing toxins and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. Greenery in the home can also have a calming mental effect by keeping us connected to nature.

If you aren’t great at keeping houseplants alive, got for hardy varieties that need little maintenance, such cacti, spider plants and rubber plants, or a ficus. Then there are plants that reverse the usual process by releasing carbon dioxide at night – so if you are going to keep them in your bedroom, make sure it’s an orchid or a succulent that continues to release oxygen at night.

Turning your home into the safe space it was always meant to be doesn’t have to be labour intensive – with some simple attention to detail, you can transform it into a less harmful environment that will fully support your mental and physical wellbeing.


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