Most people are unaware of the fact that their homes have 5-10 times more pollution than the outdoors! In The Healthy House: How to Buy One, How to Build One, How to Cure A Sick One by John Bower, the author provides many hints for inexpensively making your home healthier. Bower emphasizes four steps toward making your house healthy for you and your family.
- Eliminate pollutants from your healthy house. If you have a garage, install an exhaust fan and leave it on twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. If you don't want to do this, consider the option of installing an effective but potentially expensive duct system to help eradicate toxic fumes. Let commercially manufactured cabinets air out for at least four months before installing them. Most commercial cabinets and pantries are finished with some type of formaldehyde product, which can be very “volatile” and unhealthy. A reputable cabinet maker should explain all of this to you and any other potential hazards with new cabinet finishes, as this will be especially important if you are planning to store food in them, as in with pantry-like cabinets. New carpets and adhesive contain dangerous chemicals as well. Less toxic carpets are available, but you must research these and ask about them where you plan to purchase your carpet. The supplier might talk to you about this but the chances that the installers will is slim.
- Make every effort to separate pollutants from the healthy house you wish to inhabit. A tightly-constructed house will keep out external pollutants and allows you to choose where your home gets its ventilation, and how much ventilation it will get (i.e. windows, screen doors, etc.). If your home has too many cracks, holes, or openings, water and condensation will get inside, increasing your risk of unhealthy molding. Once the house is "up to code" as far as being healthy, an energy assistance service can come in and insulate your home for the cold winters. You must sign up for this service and in some states that means signing a contract that you will not sell your home for five years after the insulation and weather stripping is installed. Some plans even allow for free storm windows!
- Ensure proper ventilation. As mentioned above, a ducting system and adjustable windows make it easy for your house to circulate air properly and control pollutants. This will be especially important in the children's rooms and in the bathroom or any other room that will get water vapors built up, such as a laundry room.
- Use air filters! Although filters and proper ventilation are not as important as eradicating interior pollutants, it can be very helpful to use an air filter.
The healthy house is a clean house. Hardwood floors are easier to keep clean than are carpeted floors and the look of hardwood is not only fashionable right now, but is a sign of timeless classic flooring. A few area or throw rugs are fine, but as far as healthy living goes, you might want to consider hardwood.