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Creating Your Healthy Home

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Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” many people feel there’s no place like home. We rush home to our loved ones, comfortable clothes and familiar surroundings after work or school. We like to spend time at home in our gardens, reading the Sunday paper, or in our favorite armchair. But our homes can affect our health and well-being, according to the University of Minnesota. The quality of indoor air, residential water and sights and sounds impact personal environmental health and make it important to create a safe and healthy home.

Healthier Indoor Air

A variety of issues affect indoor air quality, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Second-hand cigarette smoke, radon, carbon monoxide, organic vapors and volatile organic compounds and mold affect our health and comfort if not addressed.

The EPA recommends not smoking indoors, testing for radon, using a carbon monoxide monitor in sleeping areas and basements, minimizing use of chemical products indoors and monitoring indoor moisture to prevent mold. The American Society for Horticultural Science reports that three common houseplants significantly reduce indoor air pollution: spider plants, snake plants and golden pothos. Elle Decor recommends using houseplants as green sculpture in interior design to freshen the look of a room with plants like fiddle-leaf fig, palms, banana trees, or split-leaf philodendron.

Watch the Water

You may take the clean tap water in your kitchen and bathroom sinks for granted, but the EPA reports that drinking water can be contaminated by improperly-disposed of chemicals, animal and human wastes and naturally occurring substances. The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 regulates the nation’s public drinking water supply and the EPA requires regular testing of public water supplies and prompt notification when contamination occurs. Water suppliers must provide annual notices of water quality and if you don’t receive them, contact your local water authority.

Public water quality is affected by microbial contamination, chemical contamination from fertilizers and lead—all sources that are normally filtered to a great degree by water treatment facilities. But contaminants may remain in small percentages, which is why many people choose to use additional water filtration at home. The EPA defines four types of home water filtration systems, including the activated carbon filter, ion exchange unit, reverse osmosis unit and distillation unit. They use different processes for filtering water, and the EPA reminds users that all water filtration units must be regularly maintained or they will become ineffective and possibly also become a source of contamination.

Create a Healing Environment

Medical researcher Dr. Esther Sternberg advises that a healthy and pleasing environment affects your immune system and physical health. She says everything we experience through our physical senses affects not only our mood, but by extension, our health.

Dr. Sternberg recommends paying attention to the space around you and how it makes you feel rather than just accepting a busy, chaotic daily routine and home environment. She says using features in interior design such as attractive window treatments to shut out the busy world and relax, fragrant plants to calm and de-stress and painting the walls with your favorite colors will make your home healthier for you mentally, emotionally and physically.

Ginevra Holtkamp, writing for Mother Earth Living, suggests choosing healthy furniture and decor rather than items that are mass-produced and chemical-laden. She recommends choosing solid wood furniture over pressed-wood products made with particleboard or plywood. She cautions homeowners about upholstered furniture with foam padding flame retardant chemicals, and recommends looking for natural and untreated materials such as wool, organic cotton, linen and silk.

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