Environmental contamination exists in various forms, from the water you drink to the air you breathe. This contamination can have serious effects on your health, leading to long-term complications like respiratory problems, heart disease, or cancer. Fortunately, there are many ways you can work to limit your exposure to toxins, both in your own home and outside of it. Here are four simple changes you can make to protect yourself and your family from environmental contamination.
Use Water Filtration Systems
The quality of the water you drink can have major effects on your health. Drinking contaminated water can lead to serious complications. For example, many veterans and their family members have filed lawsuits related to contaminated water on a U.S. military base, saying the exposure led them to develop cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease, among others.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), nearly 3,000 locations in all 50 states have drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are toxic fluorinated compounds. You can use the EWG’s map to determine if there’s possible contamination in your tap water. To protect you and your family from contamination, use a water filtration system to remove contaminants from your drinking water. You can use an inexpensive pitcher filter or install a faucet-mounted or under-sink filter in your kitchen.
Purchase or Make Natural Household Products
Though you use household cleaners to ensure your family’s health and safety, these products may be releasing harmful chemicals into your home. In addition to minor health concerns like headaches or skin
irritation, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in some cleaners can cause chronic respiratory problems, according to the American Lung Association. Products containing VOCs may include ones you use regularly in your home, such as bleach, dishwashing detergent, rug cleaners, furniture polish, and air fresheners.
Instead of using these cleaners in your home, purchase natural household products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of products with safer ingredients to prevent pollution. Better yet, you can make your own natural cleaners using simple ingredients. Some items that work well to clean your home include baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and lemon juice. Warm water and soap can also be effective in cleaning your home, without releasing harmful toxins into the air you and your family breathe.
Purchase a Dehumidifier and Air Purifier
Toxins can find their way into your home in other ways, too. Issues like poor ventilation or high humidity levels can lead to decreased air quality inside your home. Certain gases, such as radon and carbon monoxide, can also affect the air quality.
If you can, open the windows in your home to allow the air to circulate. Even opening the windows for as little as 15 minutes can make a big impact. If you live in a large city or an area with extreme weather, where it’s unadvisable to leave the windows open, purchase a dehumidifier and air purifier instead. An air purifier refreshes and circulates air to rid it of indoor pollutants, while a dehumidifier removes excess moisture to kill harmful bacteria. Together, they’re an effective way to control the quality of the air you and your family breathe each day.
Be Safe Outdoors
While you can control the pollutants in your own home, it’s often a different story when you step outside. Poor air quality outside can have numerous effects on your health, ranging from decreased lung capacity and asthma to lung disease. You don’t have to stay cooped up inside, though. Instead, follow some best practices to be safe when venturing outdoors.
First, make sure you monitor and know the current level of air pollution in your area. There are various apps you can download on your phone to check the air quality index. If it reaches unsafe levels in your area, limit the time you spend outside. For example, if you exercise outdoors, move inside or go out in the early morning or late evening. When possible, shorten the time you have to be physically active while outdoors.
Of course, make sure you’re also doing your part to minimize air pollution. Instead of driving on high-ozone days, try to take public transportation, bike, or walk.
There are numerous ways you can work to protect yourself and your family from environmental contamination. These are a few simple steps you can take today to reduce your exposure to pollutants. By making small changes, you can protect yourself from environmental contamination to improve your long term health and wellness.
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