Tips from HGTV on how to reduce fumes from household chemicals that may irritate allergies and asthma symptoms.
One important strategy for controlling allergies and asthma 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:
• Control formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are chemicals that evaporate at room temperature, giving off irritating fumes that cause asthma flare-ups. “Everything from the furniture you buy to cleaning solvents to paint may have formaldehyde and other kinds of VOCs with these off-gassing properties,”says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Particle board or pressed wood is often finished or treated with some kind of formaldehyde preservative.”
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.
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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.
• Opt for PVC-free shower curtains. Plastic shower curtains containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride) can release a potent mixture of more than 100 VOCs — including toluene and xylene — that are classified by the EPA as hazardous pollutants.
• Find safe substitutes for household cleaners, or make your own. “The more you can strive for a fragrance-free or off-gassing-free household, the better off you’re going to be,” says Tringale. “When you’re closed in a closet or bathroom using cleaning products like ammonia or bleach, it can become very noxious.”
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 some grocery stores. White vinegar is also good for cutting grease.
Hydrogen peroxide, an alternative to bleach, is available in supermarkets and drugstores.
• Clear the smoke. Ban smoking from your home and that includes improperly vented wood stoves.