Improving your health should start where you live. Dr. Rebecca Bruhl, associate director of Environmental Health Services at Baylor College of Medicine, explains that people can minimize harmful exposures in and around their home to improve quality of life, something especially important for people with asthma.
“One of the most important things that people can do to keep their homes healthy is reduce respiratory irritants,” said Bruhl.“Many people don’t realize that everyday things they use around the house can be irritants, such as air fresheners and cleaning products.”
Bruhl suggests the following tips, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to help you keep your home healthy this month and all year long.
For those with asthma and allergies:
- Wash bedding in hot water and detergent every week and make sure the clothing is completely dry
- Use a zippered mattress and pillow covers
- Use a good filter for your furnace, MERV 8 or higher, and replace it every three months or as recommended for your system
- Clean pet beds and litter boxes frequently
- Avoid air fresheners, incense, and candles
To help keep mold and moisture at bay:
- Keep the humidity in your home less than 50 percent. Use a dehumidifier if your home is too humid. A digital hygrometer, available for less than $10 at hardware stores, can help monitor humidity levels
- Install and use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens
- Clean up water and puddles from leaking pipes, ceilings or walls, and fix leaks right away
- Throw away any cardboard, carpeting, insulation, foam padding, or fabrics if they have been wet for more than two days, or if they have mold
Minimize the threat of pests by:
- Storing food, including pet food, in tightly sealed containers
- Sealing up cracks around exterior doors, window, pipes, and other holes to the outside
- Not letting trash and clutter collect inside and securing trash cans with lids
- Avoiding the use of bug bombs. First try to eliminate food and water sources for the pests. Then, use closed baits, traps, or gels. If you do use pesticides, read and follow the label carefully.
Safeguard against carbon monoxide poisoning by:
- Having a professional check your furnace, water heater, gas appliances, flues, chimneys and fireplaces each year for carbon monoxide leaks
- Installing a carbon monoxide alarm on each floor near bedrooms and checking the batteries twice a year
- Never using your oven or stove to heat your house and never using grills, generators, engines, lawnmowers, or other yard equipment indoors
June is National Healthy Homes Month. Learn more.
-By Dana Benson