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10 Allergy Hot Spots in Your Home

If you or your family suffer from allergies you’re probably already ‘allergy smart’ around the home but here’s a few hot spots you may not have thought of …
  1. New carpets – Remember formaldehyde, the stuff they preserved dissected lab animals in at school?  It’s a poison that is highly irritating to the respiratory system – and it’s also used in carpet manufacture.  Some carpets can ‘outgas’ or give off formaldehyde fumes for years, so look out for a brand that’s formaldehyde-free, or at least air out your carpet for a couple of days before it’s installed.
     
  2. Wood products - Particle board and plywood can also contain high levels of formaldehyde. 
     
  3. New clothes – wash all new clothes, to rid them of chemicals used to starch and press.  Remove plastic and air recently dry-cleaned clothing outside, as formaldehyde is also used in the dry-cleaning process.
     
  4. Cleaners – This is a big one.  Spot removers, furniture polish, paint thinners, car polish and mothballs all contain petroleum distillates, which can be irritating and are suspected carcinogens.  Toilet cleaners and soap scum removers contain acids which can damage eyes and skin.  Undiluted ammonia and bleach are strongly corrosive and should definitely be avoided.  The worst of the lot?  Oven cleaners.  Steer clear.
     
  5. Air fresheners – A list of chemicals as long as your arm are used to create that “Sea Breeze” or “Frangipani” fragrance, and they can literally get up your nose.  Artificial air fresheners can also contain phenol, which can cause skin to break out in hives.
     
  6. Carpet shampoos – These shampoos use highly toxic chemicals to wipe out stains, some including perchlorethylene, a known carcinogen and ammonium hydroxide, a corrosive agent that irritates eyes, skin and airways.
     
  7. Laundry products – Go clean and green in the laundry wherever possible as the list of potentially hazardous chemicals in laundry products - particularly fragranced fabric softeners - is enormous.
     
  8. Antibacterial cleaners – Supermarket shelves overflow with new antibacterial cleaners.  Some contain triclosan, which, when absorbed through the skin, can be a liver toxin.
     
  9. Bug sprays – It may feel good to zap those pesky flies or mozzies with fast-action powerful insect sprays, but remember those nasty chemicals linger.
     
  10. Garden pest repellents - Be especially careful with garden pesticides left at ground level where pets or children may touch, inhale or ingest them as they contain particularly noxious chemicals.
Whether it’s in the bedroom, bathroom or outdoors, being vigilant about the chemicals you introduce into your home, and using environmentally-friendly alternatives wherever possible can help reduce the toxic load - and potential allergies - in your household.