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Breathe Easy

Everything around us is slowly breaking down into dust, including us! Under the microscope, house dust is a cocktail of nasties. This includes dead skin cells, pet dander, dust mites, mould, fungal spores, bacteria, insect parts and left-over food.

Add in material from textiles, soil and car exhaust. Chemicals from cleaning products, paints and solvents complete the mixture.

Dust can irritate skin and eyes and enter our bodies through our noses and mouths. Dust also contributes to many types of respiratory infection and disease, headaches, nausea, skin irritation and allergic reactions such as asthma. How can dust be dealt with effectively in your home?

First steps

With indoor air pollution like this, is it any surprise that allergies and asthma are increasing at epidemic proportions in New Zealand? A whopping 20% of the population of NZ suffer from asthma.

The first thing you can do to reduce dust and allergens in the home is simple – take off your shoes or swap them for slippers at the door.Studies show that simply leaving your shoes at the front door can cut down on microscopic dust by up to 50%.

Suck it up

Next, you may be surprised to learn that the common vacuum cleaner is one of the main polluters of the air inside a home! They take the contaminants and reintroduce the smallest particles back into the air. That’s the dusty smell you get when you vacuum. Worse still, standard vacuum efficiency decreases drastically after just a few uses.

Beam Central Vacuum Systems are the only system clinically proven by independent tests to relieve allergy symptoms. They have also been tested and proven to remove 100% of contacted contaminants from the floor and air.

What a gas

Ever felt dizzy from fumes? Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the “fumes” in paint, solvents and cleaning products that can make us feel dizzy and even sick. Eliminating VOCs during all aspects of building, renovation and interior decoration improves air quality.

Hypo-allergenic

Steel is an example of a non-allergenic building material. Used as framing, its stability gives it the potential to reduce cracks in cladding or linings. It does not contain additional preservative chemicals and won’t give off gases or emit VOCs.

Stick it to fumes

The walls of most kiwi homes are lined with wallboards. GIB® plasterboard consists largely of natural gypsum and 100% recycled paper, so it is quite a healthy product in itself. But what about the products that are used with it?

In 2009 Winstone Wallboards introduced three new products that are virtually odourless, water based and have an ultra-low VOC content: a water-based, solvent-free and virtually odour-free, economical adhesive to bond GIB® plasterboard to the framing; a paintable filler that provides excellent adhesion; and a paintable and durable sealant ideal for wet areas.

Decorating

The negative effects of VOCs are magnified when painting indoors. It is even worse if it is a child that is exposed. When building or renovating, not only do you want to minimise fumes, you also want paint odours to disappear quickly so rooms can be used comfortably.

For walls,Resene Zylone Sheen VOC Free provides a popular low sheen without the unwanted VOCs for better indoor air quality. Available in a wide range of popular Resene colours using Resene non-VOC tinters.

For trims, joinery and in bathrooms and wet areas, complement this with Environmental Choice-approved Resene Lustacryl (semi-gloss) or Resene Enamacryl (gloss).

Use popular lower-sheen waterborne enamels Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen, Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom or Resene SpaceCote Flat for bathrooms and wet areas. These clever paints combine a durable, easy-clean finish with anti-bacterial and mould protection agents for safer, healthier wet areas.

Fresh as a daisy

As well as all this, it’s important to make sure that there is adequate ventilation in your home. There is passive and mechanical ventilation and there is also another option from Aluminium Systems Ltd. is to install double tongue handles on your windows when putting them in. Double tongue handles mean your windows can be open, letting in fresh air but still fastened and secured. This is an ideal way to keep cool during summer without the worry of having your windows open and accessible.

For most of us, dust is a dirty word, but it doesn’t have to be a dangerous one. Ensuring your home is properly cleaned, ventilated and reducing the use of products containing VOCs, you can deal with it. Then breathe easy, knowing you have reduced allergens in your home.

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Find out what you can do to be Health & Safety savvy in the articles linked below.

Resources

Breathe Easy
Download Health and Safety
FPB - Future Proof Building Principals
Energy Smart Health & Safety Life Cycle Quality Smart & Secure Sound Control Spatial Design Sustainability