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Clearing the Air

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As you huddle inside for warmth during our Canadian winter, you might be surprised to learn that the air in your home may not be as clean as you'd like.

As you huddle inside for warmth during our Canadian winter, you might be surprised to learn that the air in your home may not be as clean as you'd like.

It's a serious concern, particularly for over 3 million Canadians affected by respiratory conditions such as asthma. Fortunately, there are simple ways to ease the burden on our lungs whether or not you have a breathing problem.

A Fresh Breath of Air

You can do a lot to limit your family's exposure to air irritants. First, do not allow anyone to smoke in your house. Remove carpets to reduce dust and mold, and keep doors and windows closed during pollen season. If someone in your home suffers from breathing difficulties, banish the family pet at least from the sleeping quarters.

Consider purchasing an air filter, but be sure to do your homework. Determine what irritants the unit will remove from the air, how quickly, and how much filtered air it puts back into the room. Learn how often the filter needs to be changed, and how difficult it is to do. If the device is going to be in your bedroom, you will also want to know how loud it is!

A chlorine filtration system for your water supply will also help keep your home's air clean. As we luxuriate in a warm bath or shower, the chlorinated water vaporizes. Inhaling these vapors is suspected of contributing to the development of asthma and bronchitis. The chemicals also leave our lungs to make a direct hit on the bloodstream, causing damage in our bodies. While whole-home water filtration systems can be pricey, showerhead filters cost as little as $50 a small price to pay for clean air!

Artificial Doesn't Make Scents

Whether you have breathing issues or not, you should also avoid artificially scented candles and room deodorizers. These products typically use chemicals known as phthalates (pronounced thay-lates) to create fragrance. These chemicals can trigger multiple allergic reactions including headaches and have also been linked to reproductive disorders in both men and women. Unfortunately, up to 200 chemicals can be used to create a single fragrance, and manufacturers don't have to list them individually on product labels. Avoid the word "fragrance" on all of your home cleaning products.

When Aroma is Essential

If you love a fresh-smelling home and aren't bothered by scents, visit your health food store to find natural beeswax candles. Candles work beautifully to refresh a bathroom or to create a warm environment. If aroma is more your style, a drop or two of your favourite essential oil mixed with water and heated on the stove or in an oil burner can fill a room with an invigorating scent or a romantic flavour, depending on your mood. A diffusion of essential oils may help to eliminate dust from the air. You can also look for spray formulations or candles that use essential oils to offer an enticing lift. Remember, a little essential oil goes a long way.

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