by Janelle Sorensen
Living greenly is easier than you think. No matter how busy you are, now there are no excuses for not making a healthier home.
You owe it to yourself and family -- heck even the planet! Why not take these five steps toward a healthier home environment. What do you have to lose? You stand to gain quite a bit!
Here's how you can make a significant difference in only 10 minutes!
Indoor air is typically far more polluted than outdoor air. In fact, the indoor air in the typical American home contains over 500 chemicals, according to a study published in April 2009. Opening windows for even a few minutes a day can vastly improve your indoor air quality. Open one right now so that during the ten minutes you are doing your home makeover, you’ll be letting contaminated air out and fresh air in.
One type of toxic chemical commonly found in household dust is flame retardants.
According to the article in PC World, Tech Secrets: 21 Things 'They' Don't Want You to Know, "...Electronics manufacturers have made great strides in reducing their use of harmful chemicals in recent years," says Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute and a visiting professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley. "But even daily use can be dangerous," says Blum.
"While major manufacturers such as Apple, Dell, and HP have moved away from BFRs in recent years, certain products built before 2009 -- especially devices that generate a lot of heat, like laptops and laser printers -- may still contain BFRs," says Michael Kirschner, associate director of the Green Science Policy Institute.
Consider every place you walk when you leave your house and then think of what you could be tracking back inside -- pesticides from a freshly sprayed lawn, lead dust from contaminated soil, gasoline from stopping to fuel your car, feces from your neighbor's dog, and much more.
One of the most recent studies published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology, found that toxic coal tar, a known carcinogen used in driveway sealants, is tracked into homes from driveways and parking lots. Keep contaminants out by leaving dirt at the door.
Conventional cleaning products can contain many dangerous chemicals, which are usually not listed on the labels. So, whether you keep your cleaners in a closet or under the sink, grab a box and get rid of any with warning labels (danger, warning, or caution). Toss the box in the trunk of your car and drop it off at your local Household Hazardous Waste site the next time you're in the area.
Plastics, which are used for most of our food packaging, storage and serving, can pose potential health risks. Originally, manufacturers thought these chemicals were "locked" into the product, but more and more studies show they are not. Some plastics leach harmful chemicals into foods and drinks, especially when they come in contact with fatty or acidic foods, during heating and microwaving, or as a result of wear and tear.
Grab a box or bag and quickly go through your kitchen cabinets and drawers. Toss any plastic that's scratched or worn, as well as any with the numbers 1, 3, 6, or 7 which have been shown to be more prone to leaching. If you can't find the number (usually located on the bottom of the product in a chasing arrow symbol), call the manufacturer. More details are available on the podcast, Living Green.
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