Create a Green and Healthy Home (cont.)

Creating a green and healthy home: Clear the air

  • Ban smoking: The number one way to combat indoor air pollution is to never let anyone smoke in your home, experts tell WebMD. "It's like inviting a diesel bus into your living room," says Gina Solomon, MD, PhD, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "Cigarettes are full of toxic chemicals, and secondhand smoke exposure can cause cancer. It's a no-brainer. No smoking at home."
  • Grow plants indoors: Live plants around your home act as natural air filters, and some plants are particularly effective absorbers of harmful pollutants emitted from carpets, furniture, and electronic equipment. So clean your indoor air and "green" your living space by filling your home with spider plants, Boston ferns, rubber plants, and palm trees.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector: Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas and exposure to it can be deadly. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, pick-up a detector at your local hardware store.
  • Check for radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally present in soil, and it can enter your home through cracks in your foundation. Radon is also the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Radon test kits are available at most hardware stores.

Creating a green and healthy home: Shun toxic products

  • Choose non-toxic cleaners: Find eco-friendly alternatives to harsh chemical cleaners, which can cause health problems and pollute the environment as well. Several brands of non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products are available at both natural grocery shops and chain stores. Or make your own: Baking soda is a cheap and effective all-purpose cleaner, scourer, polisher, and fungicide. Switch to natural disinfectants such as tea tree oil or citrus oils. Try borax and white vinegar as a toilet bowl cleaner.
  • Use cloths instead of cleaners: Skip the cleaning products altogether and switch to micro fiber cloths designed to attract dirt on their own. Used damp, the cloths clean most surfaces like glass, stainless steel, brass, wood, and ceramics. When dry, they give off a natural positive charge, which attracts dust. Simply wash the cloths after each use, and you can reuse them again and again.
  • Give bug spray the flick: "You want to minimize the use of pesticides in your home - and that's what insect repellants are," says Philip Landrigan, MD, chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and co-author of Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World: 101 Smart Solutions For Every Family. Instead of using repellants, Landrigan says to keep insects out by sealing cracks and holes around doors, windowsills, and baseboards. And keep food stored away and kitchen and eating areas as clean as possible.