Hello again to the TMP blog. This month I am going to delve into several ways that you can reduce the toxic burden in your home. The number one advice that doctors give to their patients is to make sure the environment that the patient is living in has as few toxins as possible. For a patient to get better from toxins they obviously have to have more toxins exiting their body than are entering. If they are living in a home with an abundance of toxins, then this paradigm is difficult to maintain. I have come up with some guidelines that I use in my household and might help you in yours.
1. Avoid using Pesticides
Pesticides inside the home and outside the home can led to an increase of toxic burden for a family. These toxins often contain volatile compounds which can be breathed in and absorbed through the lungs. These compounds can also be absorbed through the skin. Pesticides which are designed to kill inspects or mice can damage humans just as easily. These compounds lead to oxidative stress in cells and can attack multiple different organ systems.
2. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning products
Common conventional cleaning products can come with a host of chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin or can off gas VOCs which then are absorbed by breathing. Exposure of to these toxins can be measured through urine tests by many of the functional labs. Look for “green” cleaners that don’t contain chlorine or ammonia. Look out for phthalates. Use vinegar instead of bleach and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.
3. Remove Dust from the Home
Dust can be problematic for multiple reasons. One is that it aggravates allergies. Two is that is can be a food source for mold growth. Three is that it can contain hazardous chemicals such as pesticides, lead, and fire retardants. I recommend replacing carpeting with wood or tile floors. Vacuuming frequently can help remove excess dust and I recommend having your ducts cleaned every 5-7 years.
4. Filter your Tap Water
Everyone drinks water. The water you drink could be exposing you to certain chemicals. It would be unwise to think that if you are drinking bottled water that you are immune to this. Some bottle water brands have been shown to also contain contaminants such as fertilizer and industrial chemicals.
5. Don’t use Teflon
Many of us have heard about non-stick pans or stain resistant furniture or clothing. Many of these items use chemicals such as PFOS and PFOA. These chemicals do not break down and when they get in the body, they stick around for quite a while. Both of these chemicals are so prevalent that they have begun to show up in tap water (thus please filter your water). These chemicals can alter liver function, reduce immune response, and cause thyroid disease.
6. Remove your shoes
The custom of multiple Asian cultures is to take off their shoes when entering a home. This is done for multiple reasons such as to prevent the floors from getting dirty or bringing germs into the home. Western cultures should take heed to this practice because it helps prevents toxins from being transferred from the outside to the inside through our shoes.
7. Use Houseplants
There are multiple house plants that are very good at removing toxins from the home. NASA performed a clean air study that made a list of plants which can eliminate 87% of poisonous elements out of the air. Data indicates that two plans per 100 square feet is the optimal amount to detox your home. Some of the plants that are best for detoxification include Spider plant, Weeping Fig, Snake Plant, English Ivy, Areca Palm, Rubber Plant, Philodendron, Dragon Tree, Golden Pothos, and the Peace Lily
8. Have an air purifier
Speaking of air purification, plants just can’t handle the work load by themselves. Buying an air purifier is almost a necessity in today’s world. Air purifiers perform many useful tasks such as protecting against bacteria and viruses and removing VOCs and allergens. There are multiple good air purifiers out on the market. Make sure that you can replace the filters. I recommend looking for data to prove the efficacy of the device.
9. Change your Furnace and A/C Filters
My last bit of advice is to regularly change out your filters in your AC and/or Furnace. These should be changed every month or every3 months if you have the 4- or 5-inch width filters. These filters should be rated at least MERV11 and it would be better to be MERV 13. This means that it would trap 98% of airborne particles. Making sure that these are replaced regularly will limit the amount of toxins circulating through your home.