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Keeping a Healthy Home

Rooms for Improvement

Here are tips for keeping the rooms in your home healthy, from the doors you enter, to the furniture you relax on, to the air you breathe.

Entryways

Don't track in trouble
The soles of your shoes could have allergens, traces of pesticides, lead and other toxic substances. A simple solution: Wipe your shoes on washable mats and leave them at the doorway. It will make for a healthier home, and cleaner floors, rugs and carpets, too.

Kitchen & Bathroom

Make sure your drinking water is as safe as it can be. Does your drinking water come from your own well? If so, make a point to have it tested once a year to make sure it doesn't have harmful pollutants. Live in an older home? You may want to test for lead if you have lead service lines to your home.

Water filters can filter out lead and other harmful substances, such as bacteria, from your water. Look for filters certified by the National Sanitation Foundation, which certifies filters that are proven to improve the quality of water (www.nsf.org).

Make sure appliances are working properly Carbon monoxide is released whenever fuel like natural gas, propane, gasoline, oil or wood is burned. If you have appliances that burn these fuels and are not working properly or are not properly ventilated, you could be exposing yourself to harmful carbon monoxide. Protect yourself: Buy a CO detector. Service heating systems and fuel-burning appliances annually. And, make sure you have proper ventilation for fireplaces and appliances.

Around the House

Painting: Make healthier paint choices: Low- or no-VOC paints, such as paints with Green Seal certification and natural paints, made from ingredients like plant oils and dyes, natural minerals and milk protein.

Curtain call: Add blinds, window shades or washable curtains to help cut heating and cooling costs. Be sure to clean them often to cut down on allergens.

Indoor plants: Greener air Try easy-to care-for plants to help reduce indoor air pollution: Lady Palm, rubber plants, English Ivy, cacti and succulents - the latter because they require less water and thus rarely get mold or mildew.

Shine a new light: Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 67% less energy than traditional bulbs and can last as much as 10 times longer.

"Green" carpets and furnishings: If you are buying new carpet, consider one with a Green Label or Green Label Plus rating from the Carpet and Rug Institute to reduce your exposure to harmful gases.

When you buy carpet ask that it be unrolled and aired out at least a day in advance of being installed in your home. Also, allow furniture and carpet to air out once they arrive in your home-by opening windows and doors.

Test your smoke alarms: Check the alarms at least twice a year to ensure they work properly. Finally, make sure everyone in your household knows what to do in case of a fire.

Let the air in: Open windows to ventilate when doing home projects such as sanding or painting so potentially harmful dust and chemicals can escape.

The Basement

Test your home for radon It's odorless, tasteless-and it's the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can enter your home from the ground, often through the basement or cracks in the foundation. Fortunately, low-cost radon testing kits are readily available. Look to the National Radon Safety Board for next steps if a test detects high levels of radon.

KEEPING A HEALTHY HOME

Air, Allergies and Achoos
READ MORE

Rooms for Improvement
READ MORE

Keeping it Clean
READ MORE

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