Living Room

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Best Practices to Transform Your Home's Health

What's your IAQ?

Many of us easily understand the benefits of eating organically grown food. We understand that pesticides are unhealthy to consume. So how healthy is the air we breathe inside our home? Surprisingly, the air quality is often better outside the home, and less healthy inside. Why?

First you must understand IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). It is a term referring to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of the occupants. IAQ can be affected by mold, bacteria, gasses, including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds (VOC's) or any mass that can induce adverse health. VOC's can hide in many products that you bring into your home and off-gas (release toxins) for long periods of time, making your home unhealthy. Indoor air is becoming an increasingly more concerning health hazard than outdoor air. Using ventilation to dilute contaminants, filtration, source control, and careful selection of all products brought into the home are the primary methods for improving the air quality.

Improve your home's IAQ with just a few small changes. Follow these simple steps and improve your home's health.
1. Don't pollute the air quality in your home with harsh chemicals. Select only eco-friendly cleaning products. Your family will breathe easier.
2. Adopt a shoes-off policy to eliminate unhealthy street toxins.
3. Change your filters often, including furnace and water filters.
4. Add plants to naturally cleanse and improve your indoor air quality by eliminating VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds). Although all plants will improve the air, some are simply better performers. The common Money Plant is considered one of the best choices. Other top choices include: Palms, Ferns, English Ivy, Mums, Daisies, and Spider plants. A great comprehensive resource for the plants studied by NASA is a book called “How to Grow Fresh Air”. It lists plants according to how efficient they are at cleansing the air, and what pollutants they are best at removing.
5. De-clutter. Create an easy-to-clean environment.
6. Buy a good vacuum system and vacuum often. Include drapes and upholstery.
7. Air out your home a few times a week. Open all the windows and let the sun and fresh air in.
8. Avoid CFL's (Compact Florescent Lamp). These are the new energy saving bulbs flooding our marketplace. While they do conserve energy, they contain mercury. If broken they can create a health hazard. Google the question "are CFL's safe?". If you choose to use them, please dispose of them responsibly and recycle. For a convenient recycling center go to:
9. Eliminate garden toxins. Many common lawn and yard products are toxic and not eco-friendly. Children and pets often track these products indoors.
10. Choose VOC-free paints. Avoid toxic off-gassing.
11. Buy natural fibers, cotton, wool, hemp. Avoid chemical treatments.
12. When replacing flooring, carpeting or anything in your home, look for products with low or no VOC's. For more info go to:
13. Last but most important, a home safety check is essential. Are there hidden hazards in your home or garage? For example, flammable substances stored in garages, improper ventilation for furnaces and hot water tanks (call your local gas provider for an on-site safety check), unsafe electrical wiring, worn out safety valves on hot water tanks (easily tested), chimneys that have not been cleaned or maintained, improper plumbing of gas lines, expired batteries on fire/carbon-monoxide alarms, and fire extinguishers with an outdated charge. Go through a comprehensive safety check in your home.

For more info go to: and link to green design.