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Homes

Nine silent killers that may be in your home

It's meant to be a haven, but is your home really safe?

By Take 5 team
Did you know the air inside our homes can be up to 30 times more toxic than outside?
A recent study found Australians spend as much as 90 per cent of their time indoors. Here, we look at how safe our indoor air really is and what can we do to improve it.

What dangers are lurking in the air?

Just because we cannot see pollutants in our homes does not mean that they aren't harmful to us.
Dust mites, mould and even our pets can cause air pollutants to build up in the home.
These effects can be short-term, such as triggering asthma or irritating the eyes, nose and throat.
Other effects can be more long-term including respiratory diseases, heart disease or even cancer.
These illnesses can be severely debilitating and in some cases even fatal.
Your indoor air might not be as safe as you think. (Getty Images)

Mould

Mould can produce allergens and irritants so it's important to stay on top of these as they can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.
The key to eliminating mould is controlling moisture.
Fixing leaking plumbing and other sources of water would be the first step.
Clean the area with detergent and water and dry completely.
If carpets have been affected they will need to be replaced.
If there's mould in the bathroom or shower, improving the ventilation by running a fan or opening the window could help.
Cleaning more frequently can help prevent mould from coming back, or at least keep it to a minimum.
Regular cleaning can help control mould. (Getty Images)

Gas

A major concern relating to air quality is the use of gas cookers and unflued heaters.
Since our homes have become better sealed, thanks to advances in technology, it means that pollutants aren't being released from inside the house.
When gas is burned, carbon monoxide is released into the air.
It is a colourless, odourless and highly poisonous gas which in low concentrations can cause fatigue and chest pains.
However in high concentrations, it can be fatal.
Ensuring that an extractor fan is on while cooking, or keeping a window open can help prevent this chemical from building up in the home.If you have a gas cooker or heater in your home, investing in a carbon monoxide detector is a good idea.
The detector will sound an alarm when it senses a certain amount of carbon monoxide in the air over time.
If you have a gas cooker or heater in your home, investing in a carbon monoxide detector is a good idea. (Getty Images)

Formaldehyde

This is a chemical that is used in household products and building materials found in the home. Here are some ways to safeguard against it:
● Smoke is one of the highest sources of formaldehyde in the home. Not smoking, or at least not smoking inside, is the simplest way to avoid this.
● Make sure fireplaces and wood stoves are in good working condition and burn only well-seasoned firewood.
● Keep exhaust fumes from cars away from the home.
● Open the windows and let the fresh air in.
Opening windows will let fresh air in. (Getty Images)

Asthma triggers...and what to do

Asthma is a serious respiratory disease that affects 2.7 million Australians.
It can be well controlled through medical treatment and management of the triggers.
It's surprising how many asthma triggers there are in the home.
Ensuring these are eliminated as far as possible is the best way to prevent asthma flare-ups.
It's surprising how many asthma triggers there are in the home. (Getty Images)
Second-hand smoke
✔ If you smoke, ensure that you don't do it in the car or inside the home. Don't let anyone else smoke near your child.
If you smoke, ensure that you don't do it in the car or inside the home. (Getty Images)
Dust mites
Wash bedding in hot water once a week and dry completely.
✔ Vacuum carpets and furniture every week.
✔ Choose stuffed toys you can wash in hot water.
✔ Dust often with a damp cloth.
Wash bedding and soft toys in hot water to avoid dust mites. (Getty Images)
Mould
✔ Clean up the mould and eliminate sources of moisture.
✔ Open the window or use an exhaust fan when showering, cooking or washing dishes.
✔ Fix water leaks as soon as they begin.
✔ Dry damp or wet things completely within a day or two.
✔ Maintain low indoor humidity
Clean up any mould you find and eliminate sources of moisture. (Getty Images)
Cockroaches and pests
✔ Keep counters, sinks, tables and floors clean and free of clutter.
✔ Clean crumbs, spills and food mess right away.
✔ Store food in airtight containers.
✔ Seal cracks or openings around the home.
Keep things tidy to keep cockroaches and pests at bay. (Getty Images)
Pets
✔ Keep pets outside of the bedroom of the person with asthma.
✔ Try to keep pets off furniture as much as possible.
✔ Vacuum carpets and furniture often.
Keep pets outside of the bedroom of the person with asthma. (Getty Images)
Nitrogen dioxide
✔ Use an exhaust fan when cooking.
Chemical irritants
✔ Ensure that the asthma sufferer is not around when cleaning.
✔ Open windows, doors or use an exhaust fan when using chemicals.
Ensure that the asthma sufferer is not around when cleaning. (Getty Images)
Wood smoke
✔ Only burn dry wood that has been split, stacked, covered and stored for at least six months.
✔ Have your stove and chimney inspected every year.
✔ Replace your wood stove with a new, cleaner heating appliance.
Only burn dry wood that has been split, stacked, covered and stored for at least six months. (Getty Images)

Indoor plants that will do the work for you

As we know, plants produce the oxygen that we need to survive.
But a study by NASA also found that a number of common plants can even remove carcinogens from the air inside our homes.
What's more, having a little greenery inside the house can boost your mood and reduce stress
Here are some of the best house plants to help reduce harmful chemicals from the air:

Devil's Ivy

This easy-to-grow houseplant will fight off common household toxins. (Getty Images)
This easy-to-grow houseplant will fight off common household toxins as well as adding a welcome pop of colour to any room.
It will remove: xylene, benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from your home.

Peace lily

Peace lilies are harder to kill than keep alive. (Getty Images)
Another plant for the home that is harder to kill than keep alive.
They're even great to keep in rooms with low light.
All they need is weekly water and they will remove benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene from the air.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are great natural air purifiers. (Getty Images)
This beautiful flower is one of the best air purifiers around.
It'll remove ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.

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