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Gert's Dirt: Breathing easier

From Donna Bellino

The air inside your home or work place may be more polluted than the air outside. Buildings are constructed to be airtight and folks spend more time indoors than ever before. The air we breathe can contain lead, radon, formaldehyde, fire retardants, and chemicals from cleaners or fumes from fresh paint. Add microscopic dust mites, pet dander and mold to this mix and it’s enough to cause problems for some people, especially the elderly or those who are sensitive or asthmatic. Here are some suggestions to help clean the air you and your family breathe in your home or office.

• Keep your floors clean. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. This will reduce concentrations of lead, fire retardant chemicals, as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust mites. Be sure that your vacuum has strong suction. Vacuum the same spot several times and don’t go too fast. Give the dust and dirt a chance to get sucked all the way through the carpet fibers and into your machine; slower is better when vacuuming.

• Mopping grabs dust on bare floors that vacuuming may leave behind. Use plain water and a microfiber mop to capture more dust and dirt. This combination will clean better than traditional fibers and you will not need strong cleaning products.

• Place a large floor mat or rug at every door. Leave your shoes or boots there. This practice will prevent the house from becoming contaminated by the large amount of pollution that is tracked in on the shoes.

• Keep humidity at 30-50 percent to keep dust mites and mold under control. It is also helpful to use a dehumidifier or air conditioner, especially during the summer months. In high-humidity areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, use exhaust fans or open windows. Little things like venting the clothes dryer to the outside, fixing leaky plumbing and not overwatering plants can make a difference in mold and mite populations in your home, too.

• NO SMOKING. Never allow anyone to smoke in your home! Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Even when people go outside to smoke, the chemicals can remain on clothes, hair and skin. This can be enough to make an asthmatic person have an attack.

• Test for radon. This colorless and odorless gas significantly raises the risk of lung cancer.

• Use natural cleaning products and decreased the use of fragrances. Most fragrances are derived from petroleum. They have been known to emit dozens of chemicals into the air. Look for non- toxic cleaning products as we have discussed in previous columns. Stop using aerosol sprays of any kind and open a window to freshen a room. Use houseplants to naturally clean and freshen the air. Ferns, spider plants and aloe vera have also been shown to be natural air purifiers. They absorb chemical pollutants released by synthetic materials.

Now take a deep, cleansing breath of nice fresh air in your home. Follow this advice and stay healthy!

Donna Bellino is a Registered Nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health, and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!