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10 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Safer and Healthier


9. Use non-toxic cleaning products.

The conventional cleaning supplies under your sink -- with their "warning" and "poison" labels -- contain a potent mix of chemicals.

"If you've ever mopped with ammonia, you know how your lungs constrict," says Lunder. "These chemicals have a very powerful effect on kids with asthma. You're polluting the indoor air when you don't need to." When washed down the drain, they also pollute rivers and lakes.

Look for "green" cleaners that don't contain chlorine or ammonia. Choose ones that say "petroleum-free," "biodegradable," or "phosphate-free."

Or make a cleaner yourself.

Home-brew suggestions:

  • Use vinegar instead of bleach, baking soda to scrub your tiles, and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.
  • Vinegar also removes grease and soap buildup.
  • Need a window cleaner? Try diluted lemon juice or vinegar. Use borax to inhibit mold growth, boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent, remove stains -- even kill cockroaches, when sugar is mixed in.


10. Eat organic, eat healthy.

When you eat organic food, you ingest fewer pesticides. You’re also helping protect the environment.

More pluses: Research shows that some organic food is more nutritious – organic fruits and vegetables have 25% higher levels of many nutrients than conventional produce.

However, organic produce can be 20% more expensive than conventional. Organic meats and dairy products might be three times the cost of conventional items.

Cut the cost of eating organic foods by:

  • Buying in-season produce, which is plentiful and often cheaper at your local farmer's market.
  • Selectively buy the produce that absorbs the most pesticide if not organic -- like berries, which soak up more pesticides than other fruit. You don't really need organic bananas, since they're protected by a peel.
  • Buy organic for the foods you eat most often.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, aim for good health in the kitchen:

  • Getting plenty of omega-3 fats – like those from fatty fish and walnuts -- when breastfeeding seems to protect the fetus' brain development from toxins, Lunder says. (Note: Some fish are high in contaminants like mercury or PCBs that can harm child development. Select safer seafoods, such as shrimp, canned light tuna, and salmon.)
  • Iodine also helps offset negative effects from fire retardants, she adds. That's easy with a prenatal vitamin with iodine.

You could even try the taste of edible flowers -- like those that grow in your lawn, when you quit using pesticides. "Dandelions are salad in France," Landrigan says.

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Reviewed on November 04, 2009
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