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June 2010



72 Steps To A Healthier Home

Just read a useful article about 72 steps to a healthier home. The following are more of notes to myself that I should be doing. Click the link for the full list.

3. Air out dry cleaning. Take off plastic bags before you come inside so that any residual perchloroethylene, a common dry-cleaning solvent and suspected carcinogen, can evaporate. If your dry cleaning has a strong chemical odor when you pick it up, give it back and ask that it be properly dried. Or Google “organic dry cleaning” to find a perc-free service near you.

4. Establish a no-shoes-indoors policy. Keep a basket of slippers at the door for family and guests alike.

8. Filter your drinking water. Activated carbon filters—whether a pitcher, tap-mounted, or under-sink model—can cut levels of lead, chlorine, and other contaminants. Request a copy of your municipality’s annual water quality test or use an at-home test kit, such as Watersafe’s City Water Test Kit ($20;, to check it yourself. Shown at left: Pur’s 2 Stage pitcher, whose maker says it even filters out atrazine, a weed killer (from $15;

11. Toss cracked cutting boards. Opt for ones made of maple or a hard plastic so that germs don’t have a place to hide.

13. Use your range-hood fan when you cook. It’ll reduce cooking-related air pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and will lower humidity, which can encourage bacteria and mold. Before the gunk builds up on the filter, clean or replace it.

21. Pot up a plant or two. Spider plants, peace lilies, philodendrons, and aloe vera can help neutralize formaldehyde (found in furniture) and benzene (found in car fumes and paint supplies). Snake plants, English ivy, Boston and asparagus ferns, and Areca and bamboo palms are good neutralizers too.

23. Sanitize handheld devices. Cordless phones, TV remotes—even computer keyboards—may harbor more bacteria than a toilet seat.

34. Sanitize faucets, where germs and flu viruses collect fast. Wipe them down with a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution or try wipes that use plant oils to kill germs and viruses, such as EPA-certified Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes

48. Wash sheets, duvet covers, and bedspreads once a week in hot water to keep asthma-inducing dust mites under control.

59. Set up a humidity monitor. Aim for a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent; a higher level can trigger the growth of mildew and mites. If levels fall below 20 percent, consider a plug-in humidifier—and follow the manufacturer’s care tips.

61. Schedule an HVAC checkup to make sure furnaces, boilers, and water heaters are properly venting carbon monoxide.