We spend on average 90% of our time indoors and indoor air quality is generally much worse than outside, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Creating a sanctuary in our home energetically as well as in relation to physical health (along with good nutrition) is one of the most profound changes we can make in our lives.
Here are my 5 top tips to a healthier home and a healthier you.
1. Check for and minimise mould and damp. In Australia it’s estimated that 1 in 2 homes have signs of indoor damp, leaking or visible mould. Mould exposure can lead to many health issues including respiratory (cough, wheeze, asthma etc.) and other infections and allergic reactions. Some people also experience a chronic inflammatory response of the immune system (often diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome), which has a huge range of symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, joint problems, neurological problems, weight gain and much more. If you have leaks or flooding it’s critical that any water or damp is dried out within 48 hours, depending on the extent you may need to hire experts to help you with this. If you can see or smell damp/mould you need to find the source of damp and have that rectified as a priority, just trying to clean it means it will come back. There are many potential sources including inadequate ventilation, previous flooding that weren’t dried out, plumbing issues, humidity etc. If you have small areas of mould it’s possible to clean them yourself, however for larger areas its best to call in a certified remediator to help. Non porous surfaces can be cleaned with a mix of vinegar and water, and porous surfaces use alcohol and water. Household items and clothing effected by mould should be discarded or treated by a remediator. In relation to mould prevention do everything you can to keep the inside of your home free from moisture. If you’re unsure about any of this or feel that you may have a mould problem it would be best to consult a Building Biologist or someone with knowledge in this area.
2. Reduce dust levels. The World Health Organisation has stated that particulate matter is the most important pollutant worldwide, both indoors and outdoors, in terms of human health effects. Particulate matter (or dust to most of us) is a major contributor to allergies and asthma both of which have a very high incidence in Australia, and so it’s an especially important issue here. Dust can also contain large amounts of toxic materials such as heavy metals, mould, bacteria and chemicals. There are some very simple things you can do to reduce the level of dust in your home including not wearing shoes inside which studies have shown can reduce dust (including the toxic kind) by more than 50%, and this simple change will also result in much less cleaning. Making cleaning simpler and easier is another great way to reduce dust by using damp microfiber cloths and mops for cleaning surfaces and floors. The weave technology in these cloths is the most effective way to pick up dust and dirt (for more information on how this technology works (http://www.explainthatstuff.com/microfibercloths.html). A vacuum with a HEPA filter is really important, especially if you have carpet and especially if you have someone with Asthma.
3. Reduce exposure to Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMFs) where you spend time. Both AC magnetic fields (from electricity) and radio frequency fields (from wifi and telecommunications) can have a broad range health implications particularly for sensitive individuals including anxiety, increased blood pressure, mood changes, skin rashes, fatigue, headaches, hormonal disorders, insomnia, dizziness, ow concentration, ringing in the ears etc. They have also been associated with a number of cancers, neurodegenerative diseases and fertility issues. Additionally they can suppress the production of melatonin (as can the light from many of the technologies we use), which is an issue because melatonin is critical for sleep and works like an antioxidant in our bodies. In Australia regulations don’t reflect the mounting research and statements made from organisations like the World Health Organisation regarding EMFs, and as a result our standards are hundreds of times higher than many other countries. The most important thing to do is to eliminate as much as you can and create distance, particularly in your bedroom. Don’t have electrical appliance plugged In your bedroom while you sleep and no wireless technology turned on in your bedroom. Use wired technology as much as you can for internet use, instead of cordless phones etc. Use an earpiece or speaker for your mobile phone, and make sure they are in flight mode when kids are playing games on them. Make sure routers are not placed where people spend time and turn them off when they’re not in use. In order to reduce the impact on melatonin release (and therefore sleep) stop any screen activity for an hour or so before bed, use low voltage lamps in the evening to create a soft light, turn off as much electrical and radio frequency devices as you can, and relax and slowdown.
4. Reduce your exposure to chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). In Australia cleaning products are not required to list their ingredients and personal care products can be fairly vague about theirs. Additionally building materials, furnishings and clothing can contain a large array of VOC’s such as formaldehyde, particularly due to increases in imported goods. Many of these products have chemicals that can affect our hormones, cause skin irritations, respiratory problems amongst many other things. This can be overwhelming, so I suggest starting with a product you use every day such as soap or toothpaste. Research each products ingredients until you’ve found the best alternative for you, before moving on to your next product. There’s lots of information online to help you research, including from The Environmental Working Group who have developed a number of databases on cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens etc. http://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides. Also try to avoid plastics as much as possible and anything with fragrance or perfume, especially air fresheners. When building or renovating opt for low toxic materials and consider what is used in the production of your clothing and furnishings. Make sure you have good ventilation in your home, for when these things do make their way inside.
5. Cut down on clutter in your home. Although this isn’t theoretically part of Feng Shui, it is very difficult to create the best energy when parts of the home are stuck with clutter. When we cut back on our physical clutter we also reduce our emotional clutter and improve our health. Clutter can indicate worry, holding on to the past and can prevent new opportunities coming into your life. It can lead to blockages in a specific area of your life and prevent you from being focused. From my experience the change this one thing can make in someones life is incredibly powerful, and most people will talk about feeling physically lighter and clearer. Additionally giving away, selling or up-cycling unwanted items can create a positive energy. Physical clutter in your home can also increase environmental health risks as there will be a higher accumulation of dust, VOC’s and other toxins; mould and some items can conduct EMFs such as metal objects. So is really important to let go of the things that no longer serve you.
Kathryn Woods is a qualified Nutritionist, and Feng Shui and Environmental Health practitioner. She works with people across all areas of health in clinic rooms in Byron Bay and Ocean Shores, she does home audits and consultations as well as group holistic health workshops in peoples homes. You can find Kathryn on her website www.kathrynwoods.com.au and her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kathrynwoodsnutritionandhomehealth/.