Our living room is a place to gather the family, recover after a difficult day and just relax. Although you may not see it as a room in your house full of health risks, there are unfortunately bacteria, air pollutants and allergens in that comfortable space. These harmful elements can lead to upset stomach, cold and flu and breathlessness. Eliminating irritants is especially important for babies and small children and anyone with a compromised immune system.
View 11 things in your living room that make you sick and what you can do to control the impact they have on the health of your family.
Remote controls for the TV, music, game systems and ceiling fans are touched dozens of times every day. Has everyone in your house washed their hands completely before they were touched? Of course not.
Remote controls and other electronic accessories such as keyboards and earphones attract soil and bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella. And if someone in the family is sick, there are more bacteria waiting to infect the next user.
Use a disinfectant wipe that is approved every day for use on electronics to wipe remote controls and accessories. If someone is sick, take the time to wipe after each use before you pass it on so that the next person can use it.
Even if you work meticulously and vacuum every day, broadloom carpet is a dirt, bacteria, skin flakes of humans and animals and other allergens. Every time we walk or children play on the carpet, those irritants are released into the air we breathe. This can lead to breathing problems and skin conditions.
Replacement of older carpet with new carpet is not always the best solution for health problems. New carpets emit a substantial amount of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and the preservative formaldehyde that can be toxic. These compounds are associated with respiratory problems and frequent nosebleeds.
If you have a broadloom carpet, clean regularly with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, have a professional clean the carpet and consider removing it, and use smaller carpets that can be easily washed.
Whether you use a plug-in air freshener, commercial potpourri or spray air fresheners to cover up stale odors, they contribute to indoor air pollution. Home fragrance products often contain chemicals such as petroleum distillates, limonene, formaldehyde, esters and alcohols that can cause respiratory distress, headache and eye irritation.
Instead of a commercial product that simply covers bad odors instead of eliminating them, you open the doors and windows and welcome in fresh air. Or place baking soda, activated carbon, or distilled white vinegar in the room to absorb odors. If you like the addition of scent, make your own potpourri from dried flowers and add essential oils.
Candles can add scent and a decorative touch to the living room and a certain ambiance when lit. Unfortunately, since most candles are made from paraffin produced with petroleum, they can also release chemicals such as ketones and benzene that are irritating to the respiratory tract.
An additional danger is the type of pit that is used. Candles made in the United States must have lead-free wicks, but other countries do not have that requirement.
You do not have to completely remove candles, but choose those made from soy or beeswax. Look for wicks that do not contain wire or metal and avoid strong scented candles that can cause irritation to people with asthma and allergies.
A vacuum is one of the essential cleaning agents to keep living areas dust, dirt and allergen free. But just as well as some do when removing potential health risks, others may unwittingly produce even more.
Every time you vacuum, some allergens and bacteria are released into the air. Older vacuum cleaners, and those without cleanable or replaceable filters, are the worst culprits. Studies have shown that bacteria can survive for up to two months in a full vacuum cleaner bag or cup.
Brand and price are not always the best indicator for the safest vacuum that you can use. Find one that is equipped with a highly efficient particle air filter (HEPA). Clean or replace the filter regularly and empty the bag or cup after each use to remove contaminants from your home.
Does your living room feel a bit heavy? Almost 40 kilos of dust is collected every year in the average home. Dust contains toxic chemicals that can cause respiratory problems in people with COPD, asthma or allergies. But also contains microscopically small arthropods, house dust mites, which multiply quickly.
The mites are too small to see with your eyes, but they thrive in the temperature and humidity of a house and can cause allergies. They feed on small pieces of human skin that are sheds and make most of the dust in our house, especially in carpets and upholstered furniture.
To keep dust to a minimum, use a disposable microfiber cloth that catches dust and can be thrown away. Duster cloths and dry clothing simply spread the dust.
Consider where your shoes have been all day long. Do you want that on your carpet or upholstery? Almost 96 percent of the shoes contain traces of coliform, a bacterium that resembles the stool composition.
The easiest way to prevent contamination that can make your family sick is to have everyone remove their shoes at the front or back door. Wash welcome mats and rugs regularly.