Breathe Easier at Home Part 1
We tend to ignore the air quality at home, but it pays to play a more active role so your family’s health won’t be compromised. Here are some ‘hacks’ to help you and your family breathe easier!
You might think that air quality is something that you only worry about when you’re outside e.g. The haze or smoke that hangs incessantly in the air like a pesky mosquito. But do you know that the air quality at home can also be a determining factor on your family’s health? According to the World Health Organisation guidelines for indoor air quality, microbial pollution is a key element of indoor air pollution so it helps to take note of the common allergens that are hiding in your home. No matter how clean your house appears to be, allergens can still be tracked in from the outside or via your pets. Unless you’re encased forever in a bubble like Bubble Boy, it pays to know the enemy and take the necessary steps to prevent an outbreak of poor health or inflammations.
What: One of the highly suspect factors that cause sneezing fits, dust mites can cause allergies and trigger asthma symptoms. These microscopic insects feed on skin flakes (which have high protein content) and thrive best in environments where the relative humidity is 70% and the temperature is above 23°C. Many people think that dust mites are responsible for allergic reaction, but it’s really the dust mite’s fecal dropping and broken up exoskeletons that trigger the response.
Where: Dust mites are most frequently found in dust-prone areas such as the mattress, pillows, carpets, rugs, upholstery and soft toys, where there are lots of food (shed skin cells), moisture (from perspiration and breathing), and warmth (body heat).
Solution: To reduce the dust mite population in your home, the only solution is to do housekeeping. Here are some tips to reduce the nasty things’ hold on your home:
- Change your bedding regularly. If your washing machine has such a feature, then do wash them in warm water to kill the dust mites. Otherwise, hang them to dry or air under direct sunlight.
- Vacuum and clean places where people frequently sit or human traffic is heavy.Use a vacuum cleaner that uses a HEPA filter.
- Steam clean your carpets or rugs at least once a year. If your family is seriously allergic, then avoid wall-to-wall carpeting and go for alternatives such as tiles or wooden flooring instead. Apply anti-allergen to your carpets.
- Invest in anti-allergen casings for your mattresses.
- Do not use a feather duster as this only serves to displace the dust into the air; use a damp cloth to clean the dusty areas instead.
- Keep your windows open to let in fresh air and cut down on humidity levels.
PESTS & PESTICIDES
What: This is a no-brainer, since body parts or droppings from pests such as cockroaches can trigger asthma symptoms in some people. To get rid of such pests, homeowners tend to use pesticides but do you know that it can affect the air quality at home too? This is due to the pollutants and volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are emitted by the pesticides, which can contribute to health problems for both humans and pets. Overuse or incorrect use of pesticides can also lead to a build-up of hazardous residues since the pesticide droplets may settle onto the furniture or other parts of your home.
Where: They can be found everywhere at home, but are generally attracted to places where food and water are readily available.
Solution: Make sure your house is clean and dry, so this means you have to:
- Clean, sweep and vacuum regularly.
- De-clutter your house on a regular basis.
- Wipe up spills or food stains immediately.
- Do the dishes daily or keep them submerged in soapy water until you get around to washing them.
- Store all food in sealed containers or in fridges.
- Keep your kitchen and bathrooms as dry as possible, to prevent the dangerous build-up of stagnant water and breeding of mosquitoes.
You should also check your house frequently and seal any cracks or crevices to prevent the pesky pests from invading your home. If you must use pesticides, follow all precautions as listed on the label and keep the pesticides out of your children’s reach.
We will look at mould and mildew in the next article, so do stay tuned for more hacks!