The Difference Between Bed Bugs and Dust Mites

Bed bugs and dust mites are just a few of the most common unwanted guests in our home. They might be the cause of the little red bites that you can see all over your body. That’s not only itchy but it doesn’t look good too. So, what is the differences between these two?

Dust Mites vs. Bed Bugs

image of bed bug and dust mite

Dust mites are so small they are often microscopic. They are insect-like pests that commonly lives in the house. They usually feed on the shredded skin of people and pets. Dust mites loves a warm and moist environment and often thrive at temperatures between 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of at least 70 to 80%. The temperature at home is just right making it the ideal place for them to stay. They often find their way into the inner layers of your favorite furniture, carpets, bedding and even stuffed toys.

Meanwhile, bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that are visible to the naked eye. These insects live on the blood of animal and humans. Adult bed bugs often have a flat body but after feeding it swells and becomes reddish in color. Bed bugs do not fly but are fast crawlers and can move fast between walls, ceilings and floors. Bed bugs hides on luggage, clothing, mattresses and sofas. They often stay on the headboard or on the bed itself so that they have easy access to people when they feed.

Symptoms of Dust Mites

Like bed bugs, Dust mites is also considered as an allergen because it triggers an allergic reaction. Dust mites may die on the extremes of temperature, but their waste and bodies stay behind. Once a person inhales them or touches their skin, this can trigger an allergic reaction. Dust mite allergy may also trigger your asthma. Common dust mite allergy symptoms are the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy nose, mouth or throat
  • Itchy skin
  • Postnasal drip (A flow of mucus at the back of your nose that goes through the throat)
  • Cough

Symptoms of Bed Bugs

scratching bed bugs bites on legs

The bed bugs can bite anywhere on an exposed skin. They often bite the neck, face, hands, shoulders, arms and legs as they are not covered by clothing. People do not feel the bite itself until they develop symptoms such as:

  • A burning or painful sensation
  • Raised itchy bump with a clear center
  • Red itchy bump with a dark center and swollen sides
  • Small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing

The symptoms of bed bugs depend on the individual characteristics of the bug’s bite and the person who was bitten by it. It may also cause serious reactions and might require medical attention.


putting anti-itch cream on hand

You cannot control how your body reacts to the allergen like the bed bugs or dust mites. It is still important to be ready when the need of medication arises. There are certain over-the-counter medications that may help reduce the reaction cause by the bites of the dust mites and bed bugs.

Antihistamines – these are readily available at the drug store and has a variety from pills to liquids and nose sprays. Antihistamines helps relieve the sneezing and itching of the nose and the eyes. It also reduces the mucus production therefore, lesser nasal stuffiness.

Anti-itch Cream – these are topical medications that helps lessen the redness and inflammation caused by the dust mites or bed bugs’ bites.

Decongestants – these are effective in relieving the nasal stuffiness. It helps shrink the lining of the nasal passages therefore making it easier for you to breathe through your nose. Some decongestants can make you feel sleep and might increase your blood pressure as its side effects.

If none of the medications above can relieve the symptoms you are experiencing, you might need to consult with the doctor to be given the appropriate medications and treatment.


vacuuming under the bed

1. Cover your mattress with tight-fit fitted sheet and pillows qin zippered dust-proof covers. The materials of these are capable of preventing the dust mites and bed bugs to pass through. Meaning, it is allergen impermeable. Bed bugs are able to live for a year without feeding so make sure that you cover your mattress for at least a year to make sure all the bed bugs are dead.

2. Wash your bed sheets and linens regularly in hot temperature. Extremes of temperature can eradicate the dust mites and bed bugs that are lingering on them.

3. Use certified filter vacuum cleaners. Not all vacuum cleaners are effective against dust mites and bed bugs. Buying the right type of vacuum filter can help keep the mites and bug’s waste from getting to the air. Make sure to immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and dispose it.

4. Get rid of the clutter that surrounds your bed. Vacuuming and washing of sheets is not enough. Clean your surroundings first as to not invite more insects that can possibly pester you and live in your home. Also, a large amount of dust mites and bed bugs may be staying on the chairs, cabinets, pillows and carpeting so make sure you remove or clean anything that they can stay on.

How To Get Rid Of Dust Mites

Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night because of the bite marks all over your body? Did you try changing your bed linen but still to no avail? We listed down the most effective ways on getting rid of dust mites that will probably change your sleep forever!

What are Dust Mites?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one of the most common triggers of allergies and asthma attacks at home is the dust mites. Dust mites are tiny bugs that commonly lives on house dust. They are close relatives of ticks and spiders and cannot easily be seen by the naked eye. Dust mites fed on the shredded skin by the people and thrive on warm environment. This makes the bed or your mattress the ideal place for the dust mites to hide.

Dust mite allergy is a common problem of people with sensitive body. Symptoms of dust mite allergy include sneezing, runny nose, wheezing cough, red eyes, and even difficulty of breathing. These are common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.  Most often than not, the allergic reaction caused by dust mites can be reversed by your anti-allergy medications but if it persists, you may need to visit the doctor immediately.  

Ways to get rid of Dust Mites

Lower the Temperature and Humidity

Dust mites thrive on a warm and moist environment. Dust mites like it when the humidity of the room/house is greater than 50%. If it’s less than 50 percent, they may have a hard time living in the comfort of your home. The ideal room temperature is between 65 to 72 degrees Farenheit. Make sure to keep the humidity of your home low. You might want to consider buying a dehumidifier if necessary, to further decrease the humidity of your home.  

On days when the weather is dry, you may open your windows to allow good ventilation of your room. Aside from keeping your room smell fresh, opening your window also helps in reducing the humidity of your room.

Cleaning is your Best friend

As much as you love or hate cleaning, this might be your best friend when it comes to stopping the dust mites from thriving at your home. Cleaning your house thoroughly and dusting the areas that are often exposed at least 1-2x weekly will help in eradicating your enemies. You might also consider using a damp cloth to avoid spreading the dust mites in the air when you are dusting. Make sure to wash the cloth at high temperature or dispose it after use.

Hot Temperature is Recommended

As dust mites cannot survive in temperature more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, you may want to wash your beddings at high temperature. This will ensure that the dust mites that might be present on your cushions, linens or rugs will be eliminated and washed away by the heat of the water. Also, adding a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the wash will help remove at least 99% of the dust mites that are present in the beddings.

Freeze Them!

Some fabrics cannot be washed on high temperature like silk or stuffed toys. But this should not hinder you from eliminating the dust mites that are thriving in them. If these items can fit in your freezing, you might want to try this hack. Place the items on a container or a zip lock and freeze them for a day. Dust mites doesn’t love an extremely high temperature. The freezing temperature is enough to kill each one of them. After freezing it, use a vacuum and thoroughly clean each item to remove what’s left on them. If possible, you can still wash them in low temperature.

Diatomaceous Earth can do Wonders

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that can easily be crumbled to a fine white sand. It is often used as a pesticide as it absorbs the oils and fats from the cuticle of an insect’s exoskeleton causing them to die. It also has sharp edges which are abrasive and is not harmful for humans but deadly for insects – such as the dust mites!

You may sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth powder on carpet rugs, mattresses, beddings and sofa to better eliminate these unwanted visitors. Leave it for a few hours or better, overnight before cleaning it up using a vacuum. You can use it as often as you want.

Keep your Houseplants to a Minimum

Having houseplants does not only make your house feel and smell fresh but also keeps the air clean. Not all houseplants are recommended because some can trigger allergic reactions. You might want to consider on investing on air-purifying plants such as Peace Lilies, Golden Pothos, Philodendron, and Dracaena. Fun Fact: It can also help you have a better sleep at night!

Essential Oils

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants that captures the plants scent and flavor. It is more commonly used as an aromatherapy treatment either via inhaling them or applying it on your skin.  These essential oils have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties which can be used in eliminating dust mites. Make your own mite spray by using tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil and mix it with water. Spray them on areas where dust mites hide. The smell is not only refreshing but is also relaxing for the body.


Vacuuming is more important than you think it is. It is a great way of reducing the dust mites and also makes it easier for you to clean the house. Here are some tricks that can make cleaning with a vacuum easier:

  • Choose a vacuum cleaner that has HEPA filter to decrease the dust emission from it.
  • Vacuum at least 2x a week and thoroughly clean areas where dust often accumulates such as under the bed or near the door.
  • Wear a mask when cleaning to avoid inhaling the dust that was dispersed. If you are allergic to dust, hire someone who does not have allergies.
  • Wet vacuuming or steaming is effective in removing mites and their dropping on rugs and carpets.

Benefits of Waterproof Mattress Protector

coffee spilling on waterproof matress protector

Ever experienced having tick bites all-over your body after a good night sleep? Or did your child pee while sleeping and you woke up in a smelly and wet bed? Worry not because we just found the perfect solution for saving your well-loved mattress.

What is a Mattress Protector?

Mattress protectors are used as a barrier around your mattresses to protect you from almost everything. The warm mattress is a good thriving environment for allergens like dust mites which can trigger asthma or eczema attacks. The mattress protector prevents you and your bed from waking up on a pool of pee and from having itchy tick bites all-over your body. Aside from that, waterproof mattresses also prolong the mattress’ life. It is a good investment because it ensures that you will have a comfortable sleep after a tiring day at work.

 Types of Mattress Protectors

mattress protector

Fitted mattress protectors – This type of protectors is easy to use. It is like a bottom sheet, so you just need to tuck them around the mattress. It is easy and quick to remove especially when it needs cleaning or changing.

Waterproof mattress protectors – this type of protectors is recommended as a protective cover for your child’s bed. It’s waterproof quality offers protection against any kind of spills and stains. Also, it reduces the ability of the molds to grow on your mattress prolonging its life.

Polyurethane mattress protectors – This mattress protector is soft and fine. Some of it has a waterproof option, depending on which style or brand you’ll buy. It is made with comfort in mind because of its breathable reverse which does not cause sleep interruption that is caused by other waterproof protectors.

Polypropylene mattress protectors – This mattress protector may be the lightest of all the others. It also provides the same use as the others and but its advantage is its low moisture absorption which makes it easier to clean and remove stains.

Choosing a Waterproof Barrier

Getting a waterproof protector may be life changing especially for first-time parents. It will lessen your laundry and also saves your mattress from drowning from your child’s pee. In purchasing a waterproof mattress protector, these are things you should consider:

  • Mattress pads with a vinyl barrier

This type of waterproof mattress cover is often not breathable but is much cheaper. Cleaning it may take more time than usual because of its design and also it is quite hot to sleep on because it has high moisture absorption. It also makes a squeaky sound or feeling when you move on the bed.

  • Mattress pads with a urethane barrier

This type of waterproof mattress barrier may cost more but it is the most comfortable as it allows heat transfer which means that it stays cool on summers and warm on winter. It doesn’t also make a sound when you move on the bed unlike the vinyl type. Cleaning it is easy as it is washed fast and dries quickly. Lastly, its quality ensures you that it will last for a long time.

Why buy a Waterproof Mattress Protector?

bed bugs bites
Bedbug bites

Protection against Soiling

Waterproof mattress protectors does not only provide a water-proof environment for your bed but also acts a barrier against dirt. Its designed to prevent invasion of the bed from bed bugs, bacteria and dirt that may cause you harm.

Allergy Control

Waterproof mattress protector is beneficial for people who have sensitive skin and is asthmatic because it limits their exposure from possible allergens. People who often wake-up with red tick bites all over their body will definitely benefit from this as bed bugs and dust mites flourish on areas where people live and thrive on shredded skin. For best protection, buying a waterproof mattress cover that provides total encasement of the mattress is recommended.


Waterproof mattress protectors are designed to provide extra cushioning and support to the sleepers. There are different materials that is used for waterproof mattresses like cotton, cotton cover with silk, feather and synthetic fibre filling. Quilting these mattress covers helps hold the filling in place and prevent occurrence of uneven padding. Remember that waterproof mattresses that provides extra cushion should not be washed on the laundry but should be dry cleaned only.

Prolongs the Mattress’ Life

Waterproof mattress cover provides extra protection for your mattress and prevents it from wear and tear. Hence, extending its life. Also, it prevents the fluids from going into your mattress which may cause damage on the coil springs and the like inside your mattress.

Tips to Allergy-Proof Your House

Is your house making it hard to breathe? Here’s how to fix it.

green house
Outside of our homes, we are constantly surrounded by toxic fumes coming from all sorts of places, such as vehicles and factories.But what may be even more harmful are the toxins we’re exposed to inside our homes on a daily basis. Yes, the place you call your sanctuary can be the most poisonous of all.In addition to the toxins, there are also a number of potential allergens lurking in our living spaces. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher than the levels of pollutants outside.Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental threats to human health. Considering that most Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, this is a major concern.Here’s how to fix that, from my book, Dr. Psenka’s Seasonal Allergy Solution…FILTER YOUR AIR

air filter
Filter your air

Look for an air filter that handles particulate matter, such as dust and dander, as well as chemical matter.

I have freestanding air filters in my office and home, and they work quite well. The best kinds of filters for people with allergies are high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which are specially designed to remove allergens from the air.

The most important place to run an air filter is in your bedroom, which is where you spend most of your time. It’s also frequently the most polluted room in the house. It’s a good idea to try and adjust the filter so it directs clean air toward you as you sleep.

You can also help remove debris from the air by installing a furnace filter, which traps pollen and dust before these allergens have a chance to circulate throughout the house. Furnace filters are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive.

If you live in an arid region, such as the desert Southwest, make sure that you regularly clean or replace your air duct or furnace filters. I try to change the filters in my home on a monthly or bimonthly schedule.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to clean air is the state of your air-conditioning (AC) unit. A clean unit can act as an air filter, but a dirty one contaminated with mold or other substances in the drip tray or filter can actually pump new allergens into your home. To truly condition your air, hire a professional to inspect your AC system once a year, and have your ducts cleaned at least once every five years.

bug bread
Combat pest problems

Deter dust mites. Microscopic dust mites are a common asthma and allergy trigger. They feed on sloughed-off skin cells and lurk in bedding, stuffed animals, storage boxes, carpeting, and upholstered furniture. To discourage them, do the following:

• Encase your mattresses, box springs, and pillows in allergy-proof or airtight zippered plastic covers.

• Wash all bedding weekly in water that is at least 130°F, and dry everything in a dryer on the hottest setting.

• Keep your home cool by turning down the heat or turning up the AC; dust mites don’t reproduce in temperatures colder than about 77°F.

Kick cockroaches to the curb. Cockroach droppings and cast-off skins can stimulate allergy symptoms and asthma. To fix it:
• Block areas where roaches can come in, including windows, wall cracks, and crevices.

• Fix and seal any leaks.

• In addition to water, cockroaches love and need food, so clean it up, put it in covered containers, and vacuum and mop any crumbs or spills quickly.

• Change your kitty litter at least once every few days, as roaches are attracted to the droppings.

• Put grocery store bags outside in recycling bins as soon as you get home from food shopping. Better yet? Use reusable bags and wash them regularly. Roaches often hang out in grocery stores and have been known to hitch a ride home in shoppers’ grocery bags.

cleaning under sofa
Make weekly cleaning a “must-do”

Not only does a clean house make for a more pleasant and enjoyable living environment for all, but clean conditions also help keep allergens under control (just use these tips to clean your house without polluting your air).

If you can, try to clean your home weekly. Mop all of your floors with a damp mop and vacuum all carpeting and rugs with a vacuum cleaner that has a small-particle or HEPA filter. (Don’t forget to vacuum the backs of chairs and couches, where dust, dust mites, and mold can hide.)

Wipe the dust from windowsills, furniture, and other surfaces. If you have allergies, wear a dust mask while you clean, or ask a family member who doesn’t have allergies to do these chores.

cat and dog
Think twice about pets

It’s not their fur that causes allergy symptoms, but the proteins in dog and cat saliva, urine, and dander. Also keep in mind that while dogs and cats tend to get the most blame when it comes to pet allergies, rabbits, mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs can also set off allergy symptoms—even Siamese fighting fish have been known to indirectly cause allergic reactions!

Clothing made from animal fur, such as cashmere, goat hair, mohair, and alpaca sweaters, can trigger allergies, as well.

If you or one of your family members has a known pet allergy, the very best thing you can do is not get an animal in the first place (or opt for one of these 17 Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers). If you already have a pet that is part of your family, try to keep that pet outdoors as much as possible. In addition, do the following:
• Keep the animal out of your bedroom and other rooms where you spend a lot of time.

• Vacuum carpets and rugs often.

• Ask a nonallergic family member to brush the pet or clean its cage or crate.

• Bathe the pet weekly, or better yet, twice a week, to minimize dander.

• If possible, replace carpeting with hardwood flooring, tile, or linoleum. Keep in mind that even after a pet is no longer in a house, pet dander can remain on fabrics and in carpeting, triggering allergies for a year or longer.

Lower humidity

In general, when it comes to fostering a clean, allergy-free environment, the rule is “the dryer, the better.” Mold loves moisture, as do allergenic pests. So aim to keep the relative humidity level in your home at 30 to 50 percent or lower by running a dehumidifier. On humid days, keep your windows closed and run your air conditioner. To measure the humidity in your home and make sure you’re staying in the right range, you can use a tool called a hygrometer, available at your local hardware store.

As a side note, if you run a dehumidifier, make sure to keep it clean. Rinse and scrub the water tank at least once a week, and dust the grills with the soft brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner.

Cut household clutter
kitchen clutter
Cut household clutter

The more knick-knacks, ornaments, books, magazines, and general clutter you have in your house, the more places there are for allergens to park themselves. (Here’s a 10-step plan to declutter your kitchen.)

Limiting the number of picture frames, figurines, and other dust traps in your home will help you breathe better. Keep fibers to a minimum. Cloth and carpets create surfaces for dust and allergenic critters to hide. Old shag carpeting is the worst because it not only traps dust, but it also produces new dust as the fibers break down.

Remove as much wall-to-wall carpeting as possible and replace it with hardwood floors. Throw rugs are OK if you wash or dry-clean them regularly. If you must have carpeting, choose low-nap instead of the high-nap variety, and vacuum it at least once a week (or daily, if you can), preferably with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.

Also, shampoo any carpets regularly using a nontoxic product. Heavy drapes and horizontal blinds on windows are additional traps for dust and other allergens.

Instead, go for washable roller shades or cotton or synthetic curtains. Or better yet, forgo window treatments entirely. In terms of furniture, upholstered pieces trap dust mites and other allergens. The best furniture materials for people with allergies are those that are easy to clean: wood, leather, metal, and plastic.

exhaust fan bathroom
Get rid of mold, pronto

Not only can mold trigger allergy symptoms like watery eyes, runny nose, headaches, and coughing, but some forms can also release dangerous toxins. To prevent mold growth, lower the humidity in your home (run a dehumidifier to eliminate excess moisture) and fix all leaks.

If you see visible mold, wash it with soap and water and, if necessary, a 5 percent bleach solution before drying the area completely. If you can’t wash and dry a moldy item, throw it away.

Wipe up excessive moisture in your refrigerator and clean drip pans under appliances, as well as rubber seals around appliances, often.

To keep mold at bay in your bathrooms, always run your exhaust fan while you take a shower or bath; don’t put carpeting in your bathroom; swap out any wallpaper for tile or drywall painted with mold-resistant enamel paint; replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats; and use a bleach solution to scrub any visible mold from your toilets and sinks.

bedroom clutter
Pay special attention to bedrooms

You spend more time in your bedroom than in any other room in your house. Unfortunately, in many cases, this room is the most polluted and inviting for allergens like mold, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and cockroaches. So clear out knickknacks and clutter, remove drapes, and avoid storing things under your bed. Also, keep your bed away from air vents, if you can, so you don’t breathe in dust that comes out of them as you sleep.

Get bedding and pillows you can machine-wash, and avoid down pillows and comforters, which can’t be washed easily.

In kids’ bedrooms, keep stuffed animals to a minimum—they are dust traps. If your kids can’t part with them, wash stuffed toys every so often to remove the dust. Use a damp cloth to wipe those that can’t be machine-washed, and dry them on your dryer’s hottest setting to kill dust mites.

Keep yourself clean

During allergy season, pollens are rampant. When you go outside, that pollen collects on your clothing and in your hair. To minimize the allergens you drag inside, change into fresh clothes as soon as you get home, and take a shower and wash your hair before you go to bed.

Grow your own filters

Use plants to clean your air. Plants act like natural air filters; they produce oxygen and actually help clean the air. As a bonus, they look pretty. Some plants are better air filters than others. According to the National Institutes of Health, the top 10 air-cleaning houseplants are:

1. Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
2. Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea erumpens)
4. Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
5. Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis)
6. English ivy (Hedera helix)
7. Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
8. Banana-leaf ficus (Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’)
9. Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)
10. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii).

The more of these filtering plants you can put in your home and office, the healthier your air will be. Houseplants may not be a good idea if you have a mold allergy or sensitivity, however; mold can grow in moist dirt, triggering your allergy symptoms. To help control mold growth in your potted plants, spread aquarium stones over the soil.

open window
Freshen your air naturally

There are lots of things people use in their homes to make the air smell good that are, ironically, quite toxic. Plug-in air fresheners, spray air fresheners, and scented candles are scented with synthetic chemicals that then permeate your home. So if you are concerned about your respiratory health, avoid any products with added fragrances or that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.

A safer option is to scent rooms using pure essential oils (like these 5 Essential Oils That Will Replace Your Entire Medicine Cabinet). Put a few drops of pure essential oil into a spray bottle filled with water and spray it on absorbent surfaces, such as the toilet paper in your bathroom. Or dip cotton balls into essential oils and place them in open jars. (Just make sure children and pets can’t get to them.)

If no one in your home has pollen allergies, simply open up the windows and let the natural breeze sweeten your air. Modern homes are very airtight. That’s great for keeping in heat and air conditioning and lowering energy bills, but it also keeps allergens trapped and circulating through your indoor air.

eco friendly cleaning
Clean green

Some of the worst ingredients in household products are the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in a number of products, including chlorine bleach, detergent, dishwashing liquid, dry-cleaning chemicals, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture polishes, oven cleaners, floor polish, air fresheners, and aerosol sprays.

In addition to irritating your throat, nose, and eyes and worsening asthma and allergy symptoms, these VOCs may cause lung damage.

Whenever possible, clean with safer, alternative cleaning solutions, such as baking soda or a mixture of vinegar and water. Check the safety of your cleaning products at Environmental Working Group‘s online database. No matter which cleaning products you use, always open the windows to keep the area you are cleaning well ventilated.

beauty products
Phase out parabens

In addition to VOCs in cleaning products and building materials, there are health-damaging chemicals in some of your beauty products and kitchen containers.

Parabens are synthetic preservatives found in personal-care products and cosmetics, including deodorants, skin creams, shampoo (including baby shampoo), and hair gels. They have been linked to a number of conditions, including cancer, reproductive problems, skin irritation, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, and hormone disruption.

To avoid parabens, choose certified-organic products and those without synthetic preservatives. (Or make your own.) Keep in mind that products that claim to be “natural” aren’t always so. Read label lists yourself and look out for the words “butylparaben,” “ethylparaben,” “propylparaben,” and “methylparaben.”

cans bpa
Say bye-bye to BPA

Newer research has found that bisphenol A (BPA) exposure in utero can predispose people to food allergies later in life. BPA is a chemical used mainly in plastics, including food and drink packaging, water bottles, baby bottles, and some medical devices.

You can ingest BPA through air and dust, but most exposure comes through diet; BPA can seep into foods and drinks from plastic containers. (It’s also in cash-register receipts.) Most people have been exposed to some BPA. The 2003–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found BPA in 93 percent of people tested.

To avoid BPA, don’t microwave in plastic; steer clear of plastic containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 on the bottom; keep your consumption of canned foods to a minimum; and practice plastic-free food-storage practices in your home.

drying clothesline
Dry your laundry the old-fashioned way

Want fresh-smelling linens? Dry them on a clothesline outside in the breeze (pollen allergies permitting, of course). Whatever you do, try to avoid using dryer sheets and scented laundry detergents. A 2011 study done at the University of Washington found more than 25 VOCs emitted from dryer vents, two of which are considered carcinogenic.

The culprit: the fragrances in detergents and fabric softener sheets. The study authors noted that unlike factory smokestacks or car tailpipes, emissions from dryer vents aren’t regulated.

Plus, companies that make household products like laundry detergents and fabric softeners aren’t required to list all of their ingredients on their labels, so it’s tough to know whether or not they contain harmful chemicals. The best thing you can do to avoid toxic laundry is to go for unscented detergent and skip the dryer sheets entirely.

Just say “no” to smoke

wood burning fireplace
Just say “no” to smoke

Smoke, whether it comes from tobacco products, wood-burning fireplaces, or bonfires, can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms. So go for a gas fireplace instead of a wood-burning one, if you have the choice.

It also goes without saying: If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, quit. If someone in your home smokes, encourage him or her to give it up, and in the meantime, ask any smokers to take their smoke outside. (Give up burning your trash, too.)

hardwood floor
Minimize toxic materials

A lot of building materials off-gas, meaning they release toxic gases into the air, which you then breathe in. One such chemical is formaldehyde, which is used as an adhesive and bonding agent in many products, such as plywood, pressed-wood products, and some foam insulation. Formaldehyde is classified as a VOC. Besides being toxic, VOCs are chemicals that become gases at room temperature (in other words, they off-gas). In the short term, formaldehyde causes coughing, headaches, and irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat. Long-term, the exact effects of formaldehyde aren’t known, but the EPA has classified the chemical as “carcinogenic to humans.”

To avoid VOCs during a renovation, you can hire a “green” contractor and use all environmentally friendly materials. In our office, we have a manufactured wood floor (not real wood) that doesn’t off-gas at all; there is no solvent coming out of the glue. We also painted the walls with VOC-free paint, which has virtually no odor.

Many people can’t afford to use environmentally friendly building materials, since they are more expensive. An alternative to going green from the start is to open up the windows, crank up the heat, and try to bake the smell out of your house after your renovation is over but before you start living in the renovated space.

water filter faucet
Drink clean water

There isn’t much of a direct connection with allergies, but in terms of promoting your overall health, clean drinking water is extremely important. After all, your body is made mostly of water, so if you put tainted water in your body, you will literally contaminate yourself. Some of the chemicals lurking in tap water (chlorine, for example) can harm you over time. To help purify your water, and therefore your body, try the following:

• Get a good water filter. Water filters come in a variety of types, from pitchers you put in your fridge to full-house filtration systems. Any filter is better than nothing. I have a simple water filter under my sink at home. I installed it myself, and it works great.

• Put a chlorine filter on your shower headIf you have public water, your water probably contains chlorine to kill bacteria and viruses. But chlorine’s power to kill pathogens comes at a cost: The chemical dries out your skin and hair, and it’s potentially toxic. Several studies have linked it to cancer. In one 2005 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, men who drank chlorinated water were found to have an increased risk of bladder cancer. A chlorine filter will help reduce your exposure.

weeds lawn
Landscape appropriately

Get rid of any weeds growing right next to your house—they are just another source of pollen and allergens. If you have pollen allergies, ask someone else to do the weeding. Also, avoid planting flowers that are relatives of ragweed—mums, sunflowers, dahlias, and zinnias.


via Rodale’s Organic Life