FRESH AIR: Improve now the quality of your life at home to achieve long-term health benefits.
FRESH AIR: Improve now the quality of your life at home to achieve long-term health benefits. monkeybusinessimages

Detoxify your home with these easy tips

WHILE we tend to keep a close eye on our physical health, just how many of us take the time to regularly check the inside health of our home.

One of the few times we would get our home checked out is when we are getting ready to sell or needing to organise a mortgage, but when do we get check the mould, bacteria, dust and dirt around our home? All these can have a significant impact on our health.

In this two-part series, medical doctor and professor of health science at RMIT, Professor Marc Cohen, introduces some valuable tips for how we can improve now the quality of our life at home to achieve long-term health benefits.

1. Dry out

  • One of the biggest items to consider when assessing a healthy home is water, says Professor Cohen. "When water collects for more than 48 hours mould spores will germinate," Professor Cohen said. "Once you get mould, it changes the whole ecology of the home." This mould and bacteria have a big impact on the householder's health.
  • You can now organise a building biologist to come into your home to test for mould, fungi in the dust, and look at electromagnetic fields and the chemical load in house.
  • Waterproof membranes in bathrooms have a prescribed life of five to seven years. "If you use citrus-based cleaners, they can reduce the life of the membrane," Professor Cohen said. Once you have water seep in, many of the building materials used are perfect places for mould to hide and multiply.
  • Aerate your house. "A lot of the water in your house comes from the people," he adds. "If you have a lot of people in the house, you all breath out water. It also comes from your cooking, laundry and bathroom. All of those pump litres of water into your house and if it has nowhere to go, it will condense on a cold window or on interior surfaces."
  • Dry up water spillage straight away.
  • Make sure your exhaust fans expel air to outside the house.

2. Clean food

The "dirty dozen" that regularly make it into our home are the fruits and vegetables where the pests can get to part that you eat such as berries, salad greens and apples. "They use a lot pesticide to prevent those pests from eating it."

  • Washing this food won't necessarily rid it of all the pesticides.
  • Try eating fruit and vegetables which have a tough outer skin which you don't eat.
  • Buy certified organic.
HOME HEALTH: Indoor broadleaf plants can purify and oxygenate the air in your home.
HOME HEALTH: Indoor broadleaf plants can purify and oxygenate the air in your home. imnoom

3. Live with (inside) plants

  • A lot of the broadleaf plants that people commonly buy as house plants can absorb the volatile organic compounds from the air.
  • These plants purify and oxygenate the air.
  • The soil those house plants are growing in can also help to take out nasties from the air.

4. Organic products

  • Buying organic meat, dairy and eggs, is more important than organic fruit and vegetables says Professor Cohen.
  • Animals concentrate pesticides and toxic chemicals. Organic animal products aren't exposed to antibiotics and fed on pasture treated with pesticides.
Look for the Australian certified organic logo in shops.
Look for the Australian certified organic logo in shops.

5. Grow to eat

  • "Growing something that you eat, like having chives on your kitchen bench, changes your relationship with the environment," Professor Cohen said.
  • He also uses the example of tulsi, or holy basil, which is very easy to grow and has extensive health benefits.

6. Change the smell

  • Our home should smell like fresh air, but not at the expense of our health. So, avoid using air fresheners, scented sprays or scented candles that say parfum or fragrance on the packaging.
  • "Those words on labels are a code for up 300 different chemicals," Professor Cohen said. "Often those chemicals include phthalates which are a type of petrochemical that disrupt your endocrine system." They are used to make the scent stay around longer, but they bad for our health and pollute the inside of our homes.
  • Instead, use fresh flowers, pure organic essential oils or simply open the window to let the fresh air in.

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