Say No to Fumes in Your House
Wipe out the chemical odors that can trigger allergies and asthma.
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You bring home a brand-new shower curtain and your eyes burn for the next few weeks. The new carpeting looks great, but nobody can stand being in the room.
One important strategy for controlling allergies and asthma — aside from controlling your exposure to dust mites, pollen and mold — is to find ways to eliminate or reduce the household chemicals, fumes and smoke that can irritate inflamed tissues in your eyes and airways.
Here are some tips for clearing the air in your home:
These fumes dissipate over time, so don't hesitate to ask furniture, carpet or flooring dealers to allow a product to off-gas for a couple of weeks or so before delivery. Consider storing it in your garage before bringing it into the house, and provide good ventilation in your home at all times.
Ventilation is particularly important while painting. Indoor paints now carry VOC ratings on the side of the can; compare products and buy the paint with the lowest VOC number.
Basic ingredients for nontoxic cleaners include baking soda and borax, both of which clean and deodorize, and both found in grocery stores.
Washing soda cuts grease and removes stains, and it's available in the laundry section of grocery stores or in its pure form, sodium carbonate, from chemical supply houses. White vinegar is also good for cutting grease.
Hydrogen peroxide, an alternative to bleach, is available in supermarkets and drugstores. Sodium perborate, another alternative to bleach, is available from chemical supply companies.
To clean ovens: Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of salt; add enough water to make a paste.
To clean bathtubs: Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with enough white vinegar to make a paste.
To clean drains: Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of salt. Pour down the drain, and then follow with 2 cups of boiling water. Let it sit overnight.
There's an unavoidable presence of environmental triggers and irritants in the modern home, Mike says, but "if you can reduce it below the threshold needed to trigger your symptoms, you've done a good job."
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