Ever been minding your own business and out of nowhere you bump your funny bone? Hard to forget right? It totally startles you. The numbing feeling overtakes you for a second. That’s what it was like when I was told “You have cancer.” I thought, “5 seconds ago I was fine and now, what?” If you’ve never heard those words, count your blessings. One thing my cancer diagnosis has taught me is that it’s crazy to take chances with our health. Of course, we can’t control everything but there are smarter choices we can make to reduce any risk.
Take your home, for example. Lift your eyes from this blog for just a minute and look around. It’s what you won’t see that could be harming you and your family. From cleaning products, to damp basements, and even the furniture, our homes can be a serious threat to our respiratory health. According to the EPA, indoor air can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.
Some of the biggest offenders with the greatest danger are formaldehyde, mold, second hand smoke and radon. At first glance those may sound like remote threats until you learn where you find them.
Take Formaldehyde. It’s such a common chemical I don’t know where to start. Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that is known to cause cancer with prolonged exposure. Formaldehyde irritates the airways. People with asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing conditions are especially sensitive to it.
Formaldehyde can be found in pressed wood products and building supplies, hair care products like smoothing agents, plastic grocery bags, nail polish, cigarette smoke, and cleaning products and glues. See what I mean? Higher formaldehyde levels are usually found in newer homes or homes with new construction. The levels decrease over time. WHAT CAN YOU DO? One thing you can do is buy real wood furniture when possible. Choosing natural cleaners is another way to limit your exposure. It also helps to open up the windows of your home from time to time and let in some fresh air. Keep the indoor temperature low in your house. Formaldehyde emissions increase as temperature and humidity increase.
Mold is one of the most serious threats to respiratory health. Indoor air quality can cause infections, provoke allergic symptoms or trigger asthma attacks. Asthma is now the sixth ranking chronic condition in our nation and the leading serious chronic illness of children in the U.S. In addition, there are an estimated 40 million people in the United States who are affected by allergies like pet dander and pollen.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? It is critical to control moisture that promotes mold growth. You might want to consider a dehumidifier. Fix water leaks right away to help keep mold from forming. Uncut grass and piles of damp leaves are prime places for mold. If you need to mow the lawn, or work in the garden, wear a dust mask. Take a shower when you come back in to wash away any mold spores that hitched a ride back into the house on your skin and hair.
Radon is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that escapes from various water sources. It is especially possible if you get your water from a well. It can also get in your home through cracks in the foundation floor and pipes. At normal levels it’s not a problem. At high levels it is a serious health hazard. The problem is you won’t know you are inhaling it because it produces no immediate symptoms. Inhalation of radon is linked to lung cancer, and the CPSC estimates that it causes between 7,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths every year. It is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States!
WHAT CAN YOU DO? The only way to be sure the levels in your home are ok are to test for it. You can either buy a test kit to check your home yourself or hire a certified radon testing professional.
Secondhand Smoke contains some 200 known poisons, such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, and at least 60 chemicals known to cause cancer. It causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths in non smokers every year and up to 50,000 heart disease deaths. In children, especially infants, it is responsible for pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infections and ear infections. It causes asthma to develop, causes asthma attacks, and makes attacks worse.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? There is only one way to control this one. Do not allow smoking in your house!
Having a healthy home is one of the four components to true health along with nutrition, beauty and stress. There is more you can do! From the dangers in dishwashing detergent to how to freshen the air in your home without traditional air fresheners to natural alternatives to bleach, my Healthy Lifestyle Guide offers practical ways to safeguard your home. You do everything you can to protect your family outside of the home. Doesn’t it make sense to do what you can to protect them where they should feel the safest?