Cleaning Tips to Remove Toxins From Your Home
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Each year, Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) kicks of the month of May to honor clean air and breathing easy the rest of the month. Air Quality Awareness Week is dedicated to raising awareness of how air quality affects your health. This year’s AQAW theme, “Be Air Aware,” helps raise awareness of the air we breathe on a daily basis, to ensure we are ready for a safe summer and healthy home.
Considering outdoor air quality and emissions it can often become daunting to think about the weight our lungs and bodies hold for good health, but let’s think about indoor air quality. Being air aware, right from the comfort of your own home can be crucial to you and your family’s health. If you’re a landlord, it's even more important to your tenant’s health and your own financial well being.
Identify, Remove and Dispose of Harmful Household Toxins
Household toxins have poisoned homes for years. Toxins such as the chemicals found in cleaners containing ammonia, synthetic pesticides, cosmetics and personal care products, laundry products, pain medicine, topical creams, vitamins, antihistamines, and antimicrobials or anti-bacterial creams are the most common household poisons as reported by the National Capital Poison Center.
Life-threatening household toxins to test for and remove from your home:
Asbestos: asbestos is a natural, fibrous silicate mineral used heavily in commercial and residential construction prior to the 1980s. It was not until the late 1960s that researchers discovered asbestos to be the cause of a rare disease known as mesothelioma, even lung cancer, asbestosis and more. Although considered rare, mesothelioma takes the lives of 3,000 people annually and with asbestos being the only scientifically proven cause of mesothelioma, it still has yet to be banned in the United States.
Homes built prior to 1980 are likely to contain asbestos in wall boards, roof shingles, asphalt, pipes, insulation, floor tiles, countertops, concrete, paints, adhesives, electrical wiring and more. If it is unknown if your home contains asbestos, be aware of crumbling or disturbed materials. Asbestos is only harmful once it becomes disturbed, airborne, inhaled or ingested. Avoid sweeping and the use of fans, forced air, drafts, or disturbance of any kind to suspected areas. Have your home tested by a trained professional who can appropriately inspect and dispose of asbestos safely.
Radon: Radon is naturally forming radioactive gas. When uranium, thorium or radium breaks down in rocks, soil and groundwater, radon is produced. Exposure to radon can be as simple as breathing in radon from air that travels through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, responsible for more than 200,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States alone. Similar to when asbestos fibers are inhaled, when radioactive particles from radon gas are inhaled, they can get trapped in your lungs and over time, these particles increase the risk of cancer.
If you have a dirt floor basement, have a radon scanner installed in your home and seal cracks in floors and walls. Visit the Center for Disease Control website for more information and to learn more about the steps you can take to reduce radon risks in your home.
Lead: Lead has become known as the rightfully infamous heavy metal chemical element that has haunted the homes of many for years. Similar to asbestos, it was widely used in commercial and residential construction prior to 1980. From use in paint, any paint chips and dust can pose serious health hazards if not properly taken care of. A lead paint inspection or risk assessment can inform you of the lead content of every paint surface in your home, including sources of serious lead exposure and what actions to take to address hazards.
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, clean up paint chips immediately. Clean floors, window frames, windowsills and other surfaces weekly. Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas and wash hands often. Permanently remove lead hazards from your home by hiring a certified lead abatement contractor and visit the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency resources for more information on how to protect you, your family and/or your tenants from the health concerns associated with lead poisoning.
There are a number of other household toxins to consider throughout your spring-cleaning routine.
It’s still not too late to give your home a nice clean sweep before Summer time approaches. Don’t forget to change furnace filters, clean dust bunnies in hard to reach places including, ceiling fans, refrigerators, cabinets, shelves, shoe racks, light-fixtures, fireplaces and more. Consider these additional spring cleaning tips and visit Proud Green Building on Facebook and Twitter for the latest green home news and announcements.
This blog was developed by the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center. All posts, sponsored and un-sponsored have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.