Reducing toxic load in the home – for a healthy mind and body

19 June, 2016

Reducing toxic air pollution in the home this winter is important for reducing inflammation in the body

Our health, whether physical or mental health is greatly influenced by the environment in which we spend most of our time. Mould and damp buildings are most costly to our health, along with the fragrances and chemicals contained in our cleaning products and scented candles.

The winter months are especially important for being aware of the excess toxic load we place on our body, with indoor air pollution at its highest as our doors and windows are closed and heaters are on.

Below are some steps inspired by Building Biology and Healthy Home expert Nicole Bijlsma and Dr Richie Shoemaker from Surviving Mold.

Nicole states “If I was to sum up…how to create a healthy home, this would be it!”

  • Taking your shoes off before you enter the home as this will significantly reduce the dust, bacteria and mould particles.
  • Air your home by opening windows as often as you can (unless you live near a major arterial route, near heavy industry or open cut mine or during crop dusting season). A healthy home smells like fresh air not chemical fragrances or air fresheners, nor has a musty stuffy smell.
  • Reduce the number of chemicals to clean your home. Damp micro-fiber cloths are great for dusting and to reduce the microbial load in the home. A surface spray consisting of 80% vinegar and 20% water plus a few drops of your favourite essential oil added – plus a damp cloth is a great alternative to chemical cleaning sprays.
  • Invest in a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter and motorised head.  Vacuum cleaners that are not fitted with a HEPA filter will exacerbate exposure to allergens like mould, house dust mite and dander by causing them to become airborne. Investing in a good vacuum cleaner is important to establishing a healthy home for children and critical if anybody in the household suffers from asthma or allergies.
  • Regularly vacuum, dust & mop to remove dust and allergens. Mould toxins attach to dust particles, so reducing dust overall reduces mould spores. If your children or yourself have allergies or are unwell in any way – aim to do this 2 x week. Finish off wooden or tiled floors by lightly mopping with a vinegar and water solution (80% vinegar, 20% water).
  • Use the sun to air chopping boards, soft toys, lounge cushions, pillows and mattresses, pet bedding and other fabric furnishings on a regular basis.
  • Store & freeze food and beverages in glass, stainless steel and lead-free ceramics. Avoid plastics, pewter, highly coloured ceramics, ceramics with a corroded glaze and leaded crystal.
  • Avoid air fresheners, pesticides and artificial fragrances in your home and work space as many are lung irritants that may also contain hormone disrupting chemicals. In the warmer months especially here in Australia when flies and mosquitos are visiting look for alternatives to insecticides, fly sprays and mosquito coils.
  • Reduce electromagnetic field exposure and keep appliances at least 1 metre away from your bed, favourite couch and any other areas where you spend time.
  • Chlorine and fluoride in drinking water are associated with health risks. Use a water filter – ideally reverse osmosis.
  • Remove visible mould with a damp micro-fibre cloth which has been soaked into a solution of 80% white vinegar to 20% water. To prevent it coming back, find and address the source of water. This can be a costly endeavour however, ask yourself honestly, how has your health or your children’s health been, since living in your mouldy house? Did your symptoms begin just a few months after living in that environment? Or do symptoms get worse during or after rain?  Asthma, eczema, red rashes, general allergies, foggy brain, headaches, depression, anxiety, insomnia, aching joints, auto-immune conditions are all signs of inflammation and are linked to mould toxicity.  Even just a little rising damp or mould on the wall or roof is too much and can be enough to trigger serious health issues. For further information on mould and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) see Dr Richie Shoemakers research on mould and the health impacts at his website.

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