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Plan Green

Seven easy, helpful tips to ward off harmful chemicals in your home.

By Sarah Terry-Cobo

PlanGreen_HP

While you may not control the toxins in the world around you, your own home is your sanctuary. And there are choices you can make to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Here's a room-by-room guide.

1. Shower: Add a chlorine filter to your shower head.

Why: It's possible for you to absorb 100 times more chlorine taking a 10-minute shower than drinking a gallon of the same water.

2. Walls: Use low-VOC or VOC-free paints.

Why: Chemicals in regular paint combine to form volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a component of smog linked with respiratory illness.

3. Cleaners: If you can't pronounce the ingredients in your cleaners, try mixing your own using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice.

Why: Some popular brands contain irritants, allergens, and even carcinogens.

4. Upholstery: Replace your foam sofas, pillows, and beds with greener options made with wool or other natural fibers.

Why: Foam products usually contain flame retardant chemicals such as Tris, recently listed as a carcinogen in California. Learn about certified green mattresses at earth911.com.

5. Shoes: Leave your shoes by the front door.

Why: Street shoes can track radon and other harmful chemicals into your home.

6. Air: Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Why: We breathe in various chemicals at home in the form of dust, which can lead to fatigue, asthma, and allergies. HEPA filters capture most of these chemicals.

7. Carpets: When getting new carpet or rugs, look for options that are formaldehyde free.

Why: Formaldehyde was recently listed as a human carcinogen; it can also cause nose and eye irritation in children.


May 2012

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