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Healthy up the house for you and your pets

Leave your shoes at the door and keep toxins out.
Leave your shoes at the door and keep toxins out.

Our homes are a chemical stew, and they can contain up to 400 toxins, according to a report by ABC News. While nobody intentionally poisons the air they breathe, we are the victim of what is in it, and so are our pets. The dogs and cats we love may be more susceptible to home toxins since they are closer to the areas they are likely to be affected- floors, carpets, furniture.

Going green with many household products and using some common sense can really help. Buying organic and reducing contact with chemicals may decrease allergy and asthma symptoms, headaches and skin irritations. Over the long term, healthier bodies may benefit by lowering the risk of infertility and cancer.

Here are some ways to detox the home for the health of all.

1. Slip out of your shoes. Take them off at the door. Place them on a washable mat or boot caddy. This simple action can keep the floor clean of over 88% of the outside yucks like road sealant, pesticides and lead dust. Wash the mat or boot caddy frequently. Keep washable footies, clean socks, flip flops or indoor only slippers by your shoe spot (but not in it to stop contamination) for a quick changeover. Nasty stuff on floors gets on pet feet, and they lick them.

2. Fresh air is in. Indoor air can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. Open the windows and door weekly or as often as needed to refresh the air. It can take only a minute to help starting to breathe in the good. Indoor only pets especially will appreciate the fresh air after breathing only the state stuff.

3. Eliminate dryer sheets. Those nasty squares are loaded with quaternary ammonium compounds linked to asthma, and they contain acetone, which dissolves nail polish, paint and varnish. These chemicals coat towels which prevent absorption of water, so what’s the point? Should they be rubbed on body skin? Most fabrics in clothing now are manufactured to be wrinkle resistant and soft.

4. Air out dry cleaning. Dry cleaning is accomplished with chemical solvents containing perchloroethylene, that sticks to the fibers. Inhaling it can trigger respiratory and eye irritation, headaches, dizziness and vision problems, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research and advocacy organization. Remove dry cleaned garments from those dangerous bags and let them air out outdoors for at least 24 hours.

5. Shower safer. Trade your vinyl shower curtain for one made of cotton, nylon, polyester or EVA or PEVA plastic. (Not sure if it's vinyl? Look for the number 3 printed on the recycling seal on the curtain or its packaging, or the letters PVC.) In a 2008 study, vinyl curtains were found to release 108 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals that become gaseous at room temperature, potentially triggering headaches, nausea, dizziness and irritated eyes and throat.

6. Purge the pesticides. Contact with pesticides may lead to nerve, skin and eye damage, headaches and nausea. It is a formulated poison, aft all. There are many non-chemical ways to eliminate common bug nuisances using safe elements, plants and other green techniques. Many pesticides are poisonous to dogs and cats, too, even in very small doses.

7. Beware plastics. Some plastic containers can leach out a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA), which is known to tamper with hormones. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned BPA from infant bottles and sippy cups. Then, in 2013, a review of research in the journal Endocrine Disruptors found that it may be associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease and other conditions in adults. So avoid plastics marked with a 7, which may contain BPA, and never put BPA-containing plastics in the microwave or dishwasher; BPAs are more likely to leach out when heated. Check pet dishes, too.

8. DIY cleaner. Make your own nontoxic cleaner that gets counters sparkling. Try this DIY formula from Lisa Beres, author of Just Green It!: Mix ½ teaspoon washing soda (found in grocery stores), 1 teaspoon natural liquid dish soap and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle. Use vinegar for sparking windows, too.

9. Ditch the duster. Use dry, unscented microfiber cloths, which attract dirty particles instead of scattering them.

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