The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

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Guest Blog: Top 5 Things to Make Your Home Healthy

In 2005, just months after my wife and I were married, our dreams of building a life together came to a screeching halt with one phone call from our doctor:  Tina had been grimly diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma and the chances of her surviving were less than 5%.

What followed was a year-long battle for her life where she fought with every ounce of positive energy she had, and I searched in every corner of the world to find both conventional and alternative treatments that could help her. It was a grueling fight, but I am proud to say that Tina not only beat the melanoma, but has shown no evidence of cancer for over eight years.

In the aftermath of the battle we both decided that we never wanted cancer in our family again, and I set out to research and remove any carcinogenic toxin I could find in our lives. This project continued when we decided to build our dream home a few years later, and wanted to make it the healthiest home in the country. Unfortunately, what we found was shocking: there are hazardous and cancer-causing toxins in nearly every single element of a house, from the chemical composition of the concrete, to the wiring in the walls, to the paint, wood and finish materials.

After six months of research, including engaging experts around the country, I developed a 37 page spec for how to build a non-toxic home. Three years later I am proud to say the project was an enormous success. My contractor told me our house is the first of more than 1,000 homes he’s built, where he never got headaches or felt sick during construction. People who visit exclaim that it doesn’t have any “new house smell,” to which I proudly reply “that’s right, because the new house smell is full of VOCs that are dangerous to your health.”

Since we saw such a big impact with our house, I decided to create www.constructforhealth.com to help educate others on a few simple things they can do to protect themselves and their families from toxins in the home. While the website is full of information from my research, here are the Top 5 Biggest Bang-For-Your-Buck Things You Can Do To Make Your Home Healthy Right Now!

  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. Together they give you ultra-clean air. If possible, also 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: EMFs (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 In More Toxins: 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, let them air out for a few weeks in the garage or on an outdoor deck before you bring them inside your home.

I hope this helps you and your family stay safe and healthy.

Be well and enjoy life!

Mike

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  • Michelle K.

    this is an amazing story. there’s a great book, healthy child, healthy world that every single person – parent or not – should read and have in their home. it changed my life and my home for the better! best wishes to this couple!

  • Laura Bayron

    Niceeee! I’m an interior designer learning how to make eco-friendly renovations. These are very useful tips. Thanx Mike!