10 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

10 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

Improving the health of your home offers major benefits to your family. Reduce waste, minimize exposure to chemicals & toxins, breathe healthier, lower your risk for sickness, and improve the overall health of your environment with these 10 healthy home tips.

1. Choose Safer Plastics

Most plastics contain chemicals that are added for functionality. Some of these chemicals have been proven to be toxic. It has also been proven that some of these chemicals can leach into food and liquids that are contained in the plastic. While it is unlikely that one can completely avoid plastic altogether, it is important to limit its use with items that are likely to come in contact with the mouth. Most plastics are marked with numbers which indicate the type of plastic used to make the item. Plastics marked with #3 (or “PVC”) contain a toxic chemical that was recently banned in 2009. Plastics marked with #7 (or “PC”)  are usually clear and rigid (e.g. food containers and water bottles). These containers have BPA which can leach into food and water that is in the containers. It is best to avoid plastics with these numbers if at all possible. Glass and ceramic containers are a much healthier option than plastic. However, if glass or ceramic are not available, plastics marked with a #1, 2, 4, or 5 do not contain BPA and are much safer choices than the other plastics mentioned above. Don’t heat plastic containers in the microwave as this releases the chemicals in the plastic. If you can, wash them by hand; if you do put them in the dishwasher, put them on the top shelf as the water is cooler there.

2. Watch What You Eat

Most canned foods are lined with the same chemical, BPA, that was mentioned in tip #1. Try using fresh or frozen foods instead of canned when possible. When buying fresh foods, especially vegetables, try to buy organic as these foods are grown with less pesticides. Check to make sure  your salt is iodized; it helps to maintain thyroid function. Check the mercury content of fish; some fish are considered mercury-rich. It is best to avoid these fish as much as possible, especially if you are pregnant. Use a filter when drinking tap water to remove contaminants and use a stainless steel, reusable water bottle.

3. Check Your Cookware

Avoid non-stick cookware and kitchen utensils if at all possible. If you must use them, try not to overheat them as this converts the toxic particles into gas form and allows them to release into your food. Try to use stainless steel or cast iron cookware and wooden or stainless steel utensils instead.

4. Go Green

Many cleaning products contain chemicals that have been proven to lead to asthma, cancer, and other health issues. Check the ingredients on your cleaning products and opt for “green” products instead as these contain less chemicals than traditional cleaners. Most of these cleaners are marked with a label indicating they are “green certified.” If you must use traditional cleaners, check the label for diluting instructions and use the least amount as necessary to do the job. Consider using natural alternatives to cleaners, like vinegar diluted with water and baking soda, which is a great alternative to window cleaner. Mix baking soda and water to form a paste which can be used to clean ovens and toilets. Dilute vinegar in a bucket of water to mop floors. Green is the way to go when it comes to pesticides, as well.  The saliva, feces, and shedding body parts of cockroaches have been proven to trigger both allergies and asthma. A green pest control program gets rid of pests while maintaining the lowest environmental impact possible, and it’s pet and family-friendly! Mosquitoes transmit a multitude of diseases like Zika, West Nile, malaria, dengue and more. Reduce mosquito bites and lower your risk with mosquito bite prevention and a green mosquito control program – guaranteed to reduce the number of mosquitoes and mosquito breeding sites around your home without harsh chemicals.

5. Clean The Air

Allergies and asthma can also be triggered by pet dander, dust, and other irritants commonly found in your home. Think of your home as an organism and your heating & cooling systems as the breathing mechanisms. The system supplies conditioned air but at the same time it pulls that same air back into the return. This means that the air is being constantly recycled and is picking up particulates from pets, cleaning products and what you cooked for dinner. It’s no wonder it’s polluted. The first step to getting rid of the dust in your home is to dust and vacuum often. Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters are now available that trap and collect more dust and irritants than a regular vacuum cleaner. Follow this up with wet mopping your floors often, as well. Consider investing in an air purifier for your home that’s installed directly onto your current heating and cooling system, making the air inside your home cleaner, fresher and healthier for the whole family.

6. Modify Your Home

Check the age of your home. If it was built prior to 1978 there is a good chance the paint contains lead. Repainting with low VOC paints can reduce your exposure to toxic lead. Does your furniture contain foam? Many foam stuffed items such as mattresses are treated with toxic flame retardants. Check the items carefully to make sure the foam is not exposed and repair or replace if they are. Check your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain toxic mercury which can be harmful to you and your family. Handle them with care, especially when disposing of them. Wooden furniture such as picnic tables and swing sets, as well as wooden decking on the exterior of your home can contain arsenic if built before 2005. Replace with items built after 2005 or seal them to reduce your exposure. Check your crawl spaces in your home. One of the best ways to increase energy efficiency, prevent mold growth, and control pests is to enclose your crawl space. This could save you up to 18% on utility bills! In addition to the crawl space, you should also check the insulation in your attic to see if it’s adequate. If not, consider adding a green insulation product like TAP Insulation which can reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home, conserving energy while significantly reducing energy bills.

7. Take Personal Care

Since we don’t always know what makes up the fragrances of our personal products, consider buying fragrance-free. Does your toothpaste contain fluoride? Fluoride is toxic to children under the age of 2. Use fluoride-free toothpaste for your kids. Check your shower curtain; if it’s vinyl, throw it out. And regardless of the material it’s made of, shower curtains should be left outside for several days before installing in your home. Avoid using products that aren’t absolutely necessary such as hair spray, detanglers, dryer sheets, and fabric softener. Save money while reducing your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals!

8. Maintenance Is Key

Many pests can enter your home in ways that you would never think of. Seal any openings that could be potential pest entry points – utility openings where wires or pipes come into the foundation and areas around gas meters, dryer vents, and outdoor faucets. You can use caulk, expandable foam, copper mesh, or cement to seal these openings. Examine doors and windows.  Be sure to seal any gaps and cracks around windows and doors that would allow pests to enter the home. You can use weather stripping or caulk to seal these problem areas. You can also fit the bottoms of your doors, including your garage doors, with rubber seals. Weather stripping can also be used to seal the bottoms of sliding glass doors. Be sure to examine your screens on doors and windows, as well. Repair any rips/tears that can be fixed and replace the screens that can’t be fixed.  If you have a chimney, make sure you install a chimney cap to keep out birds, bats, and other wildlife. You can also install wire mesh over attic vents to keep out bats, squirrels, and rodents. If you have a woodpile outside, make sure to keep it at least 20 feet from the exterior of your home and elevate the woodpile if possible. Cut back overgrown landscaping 1-2 feet so they are not touching the exterior of your home. You should be able to walk the entire perimeter of your house without touching any landscaping. Lighting also attracts pests, especially around windows and doors; using sodium vapor lighting can help.

9. Wash Your Hands

Hand washing is easy to do and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness. Help stop the spread of germs by washing your hands often, especially during key times, such as before, during, and after preparing food; before eating food; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound; after using the bathroom; after changing diapers; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after touching an animal, animal food, or animal waste; and after touching garbage. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

10. Be Safety Conscious

Keep a distance between flammable objects (papers, curtains, plastics, etc.) and fire sources (oven, stove top, portable heater, etc.). Keep electrical appliances wrapped and away from water. Install smoke detectors, check them regularly, and replace the batteries at least once a year. Avoid overloading outlets and extension cords. Keep fire extinguishers handy and know how to use them.

Latest Development in Zika Virus: Brain Damage in Adults

Latest Development in Zika Virus: Brain Damage in Adults

With every passing week, Zika becomes more dangerous and is spreading to new areas. Until now, Zika has been a threat mostly to pregnant women, their partners, or couples that are trying or planning to conceive due to the birth defect Microcephaly that Zika can cause. And while the virus does pose health risks much like other viruses – fever, rash, joint pain, headache – it appeared somewhat asymptomatic, other than recent reports that links Zika to the eye infection uveitis

Now researchers are conducting experiments with findings that show an alarming relationship between Zika and serious long-term effects on the central nervous system of adults. The study, published Thursday in Cell Stem Cell, was performed on mice and found that Zika virus appears to cause cell death in neural stem cells and also hinders their ability to regenerate. The infected mice experienced a decrease in cell population in 2 areas of the brain that was twenty times more pronounced compared to other brain regions.

“Ours is the first study to look at Zika infection in the adult brain in an animal model. What we found was quite striking and dramatic. The stem cell population are highly vulnerable to Zika,” says Dr. Joseph Gleeson, lead author of the study. “In a sense, it’s the exception that proves the rule. It’s not so much the age of the person but the type of cells themselves that are vulnerable and not vulnerable.”

According to Gleeson, the study does come with limitations but clearly suggests that more research is needed and there are more questions to be answered.

For now, the best way to protect yourself and your family from Zika is with mosquito bite prevention. Use insect repellent with DEET when outdoors, keep your arms and legs covered in light-colored, loose clothing, keep doors and windows closed, and contact your local exterminator for mosquito control treatments around your home.

CDC Confirms Local Transmission of Zika Virus Near Miami Florida

CDC Confirms Local Transmission of Zika Virus Near Miami Florida

The first cases of locally transmitted Zika virus were reported this week in Florida. On July 29th, 4 people infected with Zika virus in Miami reportedly were bitten by mosquitoes within the city. On August 1st, that number grew from 4 to 14 infected. Until now, all reported cases of Zika in the United States have been linked to those who recently travelled to countries with known Zika transmissions.

Due to the recent developments, the Centers for Disease Control are warning pregnant women and their partners to avoid traveling to Miami and surrounding areas. Zika virus is extremely dangerous to unborn babies, potentially causing a condition known as Microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brain function. Pregnant women and/or their partners that have recently travelled to the area (on or after June 15th) should be tested immediately for Zika virus and those living in and around Miami should exercise strict mosquito bite prevention and avoid unprotected sex.

As for the rest of the country, the risk of contracting Zika from mosquitoes isn’t an immediate threat since mosquitoes carrying Zika do not travel far (a mile or less in their lifetime). BUT, because symptoms of Zika often go unnoticed, those that have recently traveled to the area and may have Zika are likely to pass the virus on to sexual partners, OR could spread the virus to another mosquito if bitten. In turn, that mosquito could then transmit Zika to other people.

Because of its unpredictability, practicing mosquito bite prevention in any warm, humid climate (within the US and when traveling abroad) is key – especially for pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant. Use an insect repellent with DEET when outdoors, keep arms and legs covered with light-colored, loose clothing, stay away from areas with stagnant, standing water, and consider a home mosquito control program by an exterminating company.

Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus Now Linked to Permanent Blindness

Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus Now Linked to Permanent Blindness

By now we know that Zika Virus, a mosquito-borne disease, carries some serious health threats and risks, previously thought to be most dangerous for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies. If bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying Zika, an unborn baby could potentially be born with a serious birth defect called Microcephaly, causing abnormally small heads and impaired brain function.

Zika Virus Causes Blindness

Now Zika Virus is also being linked to and eye infection causing permanent blindness, reported by the New England Journal of Medicine last week. This Zika-induced eye infection, uveitis, can cause glaucoma, cataracts and loss of vision.

How can you protect yourself?

If you’ve recently traveled to countries with documented Zika transmission – like Brazil, parts of the Carribbean and Central America, Mexico, and the Pacific Islands – see an ophthalmologist. Potential signs and symptoms of an eye infection related to Zika Virus are eye redness, pain or sensitivity to light. If left untreated, uveitis can “cause irrevocable damage to the retina,” according to Dr. C. Stephen Foster, president of the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution in Waltham.

Planning to travel to a country with recent Zika outbreaks?

Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using bug repellent with DEET and keeping your arms and legs covered with loose-fitting long sleeves and pants (find out more about mosquito bite prevention here). Pregnant women or women expecting to become pregnant should avoid traveling to these countries all together. The same applies to men that are trying to conceive with their partner; Zika Virus can be sexually transmitted from men to women.

2016 Summer Olympics

Those planning to travel to Rio, Brazil for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics are especially at risk. At least 4-6 weeks prior to your trip, talk to your doctor about vaccinations and medicines recommended for travel to Brazil. It’s also a good idea to purchase travel health and medical evacuation insurance, according to the CDC, and stay up to date with travel warnings and breaking news in that area. While visiting Rio, mosquito bite prevention is key to reducing your risk of Zika and other mosquito-born diseases. Wear mosquito repellent with DEET around the clock, avoid areas of standing or stagnant water, and wear loose, light-colored clothing that covers arms and legs. And since Zika can be sexually-transmitted, avoid unprotected sex during travel and for at least 8 weeks after. The CDC recommends that pregnant women not go to the Olympics.

New Developments on Zika Virus from the CDC

New Developments on Zika Virus from the CDC

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now warning everyone that Zika is scarier than they originally thought.

Over 300 cases of Zika virus have now been confirmed in the U.S. And while most of these occurrences are in people who had traveled to countries with Zika-infected mosquitos, now we know that the virus can be transmitted sexually in addition to a mosquito bite.

The biggest concern right now related to Zika is for pregnant women. Zika virus can cause a neurodevelopmental disorder in fetuses, Microcephaly, that causes babies to be born with a head and brain that are smaller than normal. Now research is showing that Zika not only affects women in their first trimester, but can be a risk throughout all stages of pregnancy, according to CDC Deputy Director, Dr. Anne Schuchat.

“Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring,” she added. “Everything we know about this virus seems to be scarier than we initially thought.

The mosquitoes carrying Zika virus have been identified in 30 states across the country. This doesn’t mean the mosquitoes are infected, but health officials are concerned that as temperatures begin to rise, pregnant women from Texas to Florida will be at risk.

For women who are not pregnant, if you’ve experienced symptoms of Zika – fever, rash, itchy eyes – wait at least 8 weeks before trying to conceive. And even if you’ve had no symptoms at all but have recently traveled to any of the countries with active Zika transmissions, it’s advised to also wait 8 weeks or longer before trying to get pregnant.

On a positive note, the CDC has asked for federal funding to aid in the research and development of a cure, with a vaccine potentially expected to release in September 2016.

Meanwhile, reduce your risk of Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses with mosquito prevention tips and professional mosquito control.

Pin It on Pinterest

Call Now Button