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Beware of Home Pollution

Air pollution affects the entire planet. You can't escape it - even inside your home. In fact, indoor air pollution can be up to five times worse than outdoor air pollution. And much of it is related to products that we use every day. Here are some common household products that foul our domestic atmospheres, along with suggestions for nontoxic replacements.

  • Bleach and other chemical cleansers.  Many cleansers contain environmental pollutants (despite their upbeat names and cute mascots).  Try to substitute natural cleansers whenever possible.  You can find natural cleaning products at health food stores, or make them yourself out of non-toxic cleaning ingredients such as pine oil, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice

  • Moth balls.  Not only are they bad for moths, they're bad for you.  Use moth-repelling cedar chips instead.

  • Cooking hardware.  Gas stoves and appliances release fumes into the air.  If you use natural gas - as many people do - make sure that rooms containing gas appliances are well ventilated.

  • Candles.  Many candles release soot and other pollutants into the air.  Those made with metal wicks are especially toxic, since they release lead into the air as well.  Paraffin itself (a petroleum-based ingredient used to make candles) is known to be a pollutant.  If you're concerned about air quality, try natural paraffin-free candles instead.

  • Perfumes.  They smell like flowers, but they inhale like chemicals - at least the ones that are made with chemicals.  Look for perfumes that use only natural ingredients, or try creating your own scents from natural oils instead.

  • Incense.  Smoke is an air pollutant, even when it smells sweet.  You can use dried-flower potpourri or other natural olfactory enhancers to get the same effect.

  • Dry cleaning.  Many professional dry cleaners use a carcinogenic cleaning agent called "perc." Hand-wash your delicate clothing with a gentle, natural cleanser instead.  If you must dry clean a piece of clothing, hang it outside to fumigate before you wear it or store it in your closet.

  • Bathroom caulk or grout that is crumbling and needs replacement to prevent seepage and improve appearance.

  • Decor.  Think natural - avoid plastics and wall-to-wall carpeting.

Note: to further increase your indoor air quality, open up windows and doors for ventilation whenever safety and weather conditions permit.  Also, consider installing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your favourite room to create a pollution-free zone.  This is especially important if you live in a big city, where there just isn't as much fresh air to go around.

Prepared by Shelley Cartwright

Fairhome Building Inspections serves Victoria B.C., Saanich, Sooke, Metchosin, Langford, Sooke, Colwood, Sidney, Millstream, Shawnigan Lake, MillBay, Cobble Hill and other parts of Lower Vancouver Island

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