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Healthy Home

The Healthy Basement

Dust and Toxins

Just because your old couch “still has some life in it” doesn’t make it a wise choice for the basement. The dust, dander and other particulates that you bring into the basement with that sofa will aggravate allergies and asthma.

• A lack of ventilation downstairs makes exposures to these allergens worse than upstairs. Furnaces don’t even do a great job of moving basement air. Most of the newer high-efficiency models, for example, no longer have basement air intakes, but rather work with fresh, outside air. Installing proper cold air returns in a basement will help to resolve this.

• If you’re going to use the basement as a family room or office, be sure to lose some clutter. The basement is where all manner of stuff gets stored: from boxes to school projects, books and old clothes. These items don’t get cleaned often, if ever, and the dust loads build up, creating Allergy Central. Lose as much of the clutter as you can, and allergy control will follow.

• Many people store toxic chemicals in the basement. These chemicals impact our health, especially in the basement, since we’re living closer to them. Get rid of the old paints and glues, and buy zero-VOC paint the next time.

By taking measures to reduce moisture and greatly reduce dust and toxic exposure, you will gain a livable space, better health and a significant appreciation for everything going on in your basement. It won’t help with teenagers running amok down there, but at least they’ll breath well.

Stephen Collette is a certified Building Biology Environmental Consultant and owner of the company Your Healthy House. See Got a healthy home tip? Tell’s Forum.

First published in Allergic Living magazine.
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