Fighting Germs in the Home

Testing Indoor Air and Surface Quality
Anyone who is or has been the parent of a school-aged child will be familiar with the frustrating scenario – the kids were fairly healthy over the summer months or the holiday break, and then a few days back in school brings on the runny noses and nagging cough.  A schoolroom full of children will pass around germs at lightening speed. Containers of hand sanitizer have cropped up in schools and other public places so that we can clean our hands on the spot. Most people are careful to wipe down things that they are going to touch in public places in an effort to ward off germs.  But current research shows that our homes might be germier than we think, causing over 50 percent of food-borne illnesses and over 65 percent of colds.  Even with the most rigorous cleaning efforts, it turns out that some of the dirtiest air we breathe is in our own homes!
Areas inside the house that hold the highest levels of bacteria per square inch range from the expected, like the toilet bowl, to the more surprising, such as the kitchen faucet handle.  Some of the contamination can be mitigated with more stringent disinfecting routines.  Most homeowners regularly sterilize the toilet bowl, but how many do the same to the cutting board, which is a rich breeding ground for bacteria- and virus-producing germs?  However, even the most energetic house cleaning generally cannot address all levels of infecting agents in the home. Our homes now contain many of the irritants that we have worked so hard to reduce in the outdoor environment, from the chemical cleaners we use to the clothes in the closet laced with dry-cleaning compounds. Many houses have hidden problems, such as water leaks that are promoting mold growth.  With all of our modern knowledge about the impact of environmental pollution, we know that airborne toxins can affect physical health in many ways such as inducing asthma symptoms and exacerbating allergies.  Today’s homeowners need to take new and cutting-edge approaches to managing the household environment to keep the home cleaner and the family healthier.
One of the most beneficial tools available to homeowners now is the indoor air and surface quality evaluation. Some home and building inspectors have fulfilled educational and testing requirements in the area of indoor air quality, focusing on issues including mold, lead, radon, carbon monoxide, asbestos, and pesticides.  These will come into the home, take air and surface samples to be tested, and produce a detailed report on the contaminants found.  They can also discuss the available solutions and help customize a plan for your situation.  By combining a professional evaluation with your own cleaning efforts you can achieve a comprehensive plan to make your home the healthiest place it can be.