Fairfield County Edition

Clear the Air

Reducing Home Pollution Benefits Humans and Pets

"Walking into a modern building can sometimes be compared to placing your head inside a plastic bag that is filled with toxic fumes.” ~ John Bower, Founder of Healthy House Institute

We cannot control the air quality in public spaces. However, we can make impactful changes to our homes that positively affect our families, including our pets.

There is a growing body of evidence that points to the interior of our homes being as polluted as outdoor air. In fact, because indoor air is more contained without natural airflow, there may be even greater exposure to toxins than outdoor air. Now consider that toxins are heavier than air, and can settle to the lower parts of homes where our pets and young children spend most of their time.

Biologic Pollutants

Biologic pollutants include bacteria, molds, viruses, animal dander, saliva, dust mites, cockroaches and pollen. Just like humans, pets can develop respiratory ailments and allergic reactions when exposed. 

In addition, there are airborne diseases such as canine influenza and kennel cough. Airborne diseases are most often contracted by close contact with infected pets. It is not always feasible to keep your pets away from other pets. Strengthening immune systems may reduce the likelihood of contracting airborne diseases as well as talking with your veterinary professional about whether or not vaccines are beneficial to the specific pet. 

Regular cleaning along with moisture control can reduce exposure to harmful biologic agents.

Chemical Pollutants

These include carbon monoxide poisoning from idling cars, boilers, space heaters, grills, gas stoves and wood stoves. In addition, carbon monoxide fumes from lawn equipment and generators can enter the home through open windows. A carbon monoxide detector can alert us to these dangers; it’s a good idea to install at least one in your home.

Pollution in the air, as well as smoke from wildfires, increases ozone to dangerous levels in the air. Himalayan salt lamps as well as mechanical air purifiers can be placed around the home to mitigate the harmful effects of ozone. Consider talking to an HVAC professional about a system that is right for your home.

Second-hand smoke isn’t the only concern for pets because there are now studies that indicate third-hand smoke. This means because smoke permeates walls, carpets, and floors and is difficult to remove, pets are being exposed to those carcinogens even if no one in the home is smoking.

Most spray aerosols, paint varnishes, air fresheners, art supplies, spot removers and other products may continually release volatile organic compounds, which studies have linked to serious medical issues. Read labels before using, and research non-toxic alternatives.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive material that is odorless and colorless. Most people do not realize it’s a concern until they buy or sell a home and the house inspector informs them of it. There are units to eliminate radon from the home.

If a chemical is deadly to pests, it’s equally dangerous for our pets. Keep insect and pest traps and pesticides away from your pets.

While more of a concern for older homes, asbestos in siding and walls can cause lung damage if disturbed. Likewise, lead in water pipes can cause lead poisoning in the drinking water.

As caretakers of our pets, it is up to us to make the necessary changes in our homes to ensure we are providing a healthy environment for them. These changes can result in healthier pets and lower veterinarian bills. That’s a win-win for all concerned.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Pawsitive Education. She can be reached at PawsitiveEd.com. See ad, page 45. 

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