Whether you are building from scratch, or looking for quick fixes, here are some simple things you can to do create a healthy, safe, non-toxic environment.
1. Get Clean, Fresh Air In Your Home
Make sure your central air system has a HEPA + Activated Carbon filter. HEPA filters particles, Carbon filters chemicals, and together they give you clean air. If possible, add a fresh-air intake to your system, so you constantly draw fresh air into your home.
2. Get Clean, Fresh Water In Your Home
Put in a whole house water filter. Unfortunately, the water from your municipality can sometimes contain toxins. By installing a good whole house filter, you can take out whatever they missed, and have safer drinking and bathing water. I recommend a well water filter because it is designed to remove a broader range of toxins from your water supply. If you can’t install a whole house filter, then put a good reverse osmosis water filter in your kitchen sink. That way you at least have good quality drinking water.
3. Keep Out VOCs and SVOCs
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) are found in most “standard” construction materials, including, paints, glues, insulation, concrete, pressure treated wood, flooring, carpeting and much more. Unfortunately these VOCs are often harmful and carcinogenic, and they evaporate into the air in your home even if you can’t smell them. Always ask for “low-VOC” or “zero-VOC” materials, and if you’re not sure, check with an online database like www.greenguard.org, which certifies materials for safety in the home.
4. Be Mindful of EMFs
EMF (Electro-magnetic fields) come from electrical wiring and equipment. Over time, exposure to too much EMF can be hazardous to your health. Try some simple fixes to reduce EMF exposure: (1) keep beds and couches four feet away from wiring in your walls. You can buy a simple EMF meter to find the wires. (2) Keep your wifi router away from places you spend a lot of time. (3) Use a headset with your wireless and cordless phones so you can keep the phones further away from your body.
5. Don’t Bring More Toxins In
The biggest sources of toxins in your home are the things you bring into it. Try to avoid buying furniture, beds, window shades, and carpeting that include foams or particle board. There are many natural and non-toxic alternatives on the market now. If in some cases you can't avoid the foam and chemicals, then let them air out for a few weeks in the garage or on an outdoor deck before you bring them inside your home.
If you want a more detailed overview of every part of your home construction that can affect your health, check out the Elements of a Healthy Home.