When you start over in a new space, there’s one thing you should make a priority: your indoor air quality. (And stocking your bar fridge – that’s pretty important, too.)
The air you breathe on a daily basis can have a profound effect on your short- and long-term health. To start out fresh in your new space and maintain the health of you and your family, consider these tips (courtesy of the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center) on how to keep toxins and dangerous chemicals out of the air that surrounds you.
Stay Educated on VOCs
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are invisible gases emitted from a variety of different items and materials including paints, furniture, flooring, and building products. They’re almost as volatile as your Uncle Darryl’s invisible gases.
But seriously, exposure to VOCs can cause irritation of the nose and eyes, allergies, and headaches. We can’t see or smell VOCs since they off-gas from products in the home. That’s why it’s important to stay up to date on chemicals included in different cleaners and supplies, so homeowners and renters can find safe and eco-friendly alternatives.
As you decorate your new home, be on the lookout for healthy options like low-VOC paint and natural flooring. Before purchasing products, check labels for the ingredients and be wary of brands and supplies that label themselves as “green”.
Always look out for chemicals like formaldehyde, ethanol, and benzene, and do your research into any brand that claims to be natural and organic.
Becoming a conscious shopper will limit your exposure and help your family develop healthy consumer habits.
Bring in Houseplants
One of the most natural ways you can bring freshness into your home is through plants and greenery. Houseplants can act as natural air purifiers, cleaning up contaminated air from volatile organic compounds and other airborne toxins (settle down, science). Plus, they’re pretty!
After being tested by researchers at NASA, scientists say that certain plants can help counteract off-gassing from furniture, flooring, and other entities in your home.
Including greenery in your home is also known to increase productivity and act as a natural mood booster. If you spend the majority of time indoors, creating a “green space” in your home can help connect you with nature and cleanse your environment. This will lead to a space that is healthier both mentally and physically.
Plants like the golden pothos and spider plants can help reduce our exposure to invisible carcinogens and chemicals that hinder long-term health.
Check for Asbestos in Your Home
If you’re moving into an older home built between 1930 and the 1980s, you’ll want to check your home is free of loose or disturbed asbestos. This naturally occurring mineral was once used excessively in the construction industry and therefore still resides in many homes today. Professionals understand the dangers of asbestos and the material has been banned in Australia since 2003. However, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can still be found in homes and other buildings.
If you’re planning a renovation while moving into your new space, or if you notice any areas in your home where insulation or piping might be disturbed, contact a professional who can check for asbestos and remove it safely. Asbestos only becomes dangerous when it has been disturbed and set loose into the air.
Once ingested, asbestos fibres can cause serious health issues like mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Keep Moisture Out
Fix any leaks or cracks where moisture and water could get into your home. Unwanted moisture can lead to mould or mildew forming in damp areas of your new home. The accumulation of mould can lead to breathing problems associated with asthma and allergies, especially in smaller spaces like a bathroom. Be aware of where any cracks or leaks may be in your roof, foundation, or basement, and have them mended as soon as you can.
If you do use an air-conditioner or dehumidifier, take the time to clean and replace their filters when necessary. If left uncleaned, standing water can breed dust mites and mould in these appliances (ew). To keep these at bay, use dust mite-resistant furniture covers and steam-clean carpets and upholstered furniture periodically.
Ensure your home is well ventilated by opening windows when you can, and installing fans to keep air flowing and reduce humidity levels.