Change for the Better: Making Healthful Home Modifications


It might begin with irritated, watery eyes or maybe as a tightness in the throat. What’s often identified as “sick building syndrome” covers scores of maladies that can be attributed to objects or materials found in one’s home or work environment. Something as simple as carpeting or fabric may produce illnesses that can force a change in lifestyle or stretch financial resources to the breaking point. Many health mysteries once ascribed to allergies or psychosomatic reactions today are known to be caused by one’s immediate surroundings.

Home modifications and repairs can markedly improve one’s circumstances, physical condition, and sense of well-being. Improved ventilation and the elimination of dangerous natural agents such as molds and bacteria can make the difference between years of lethargy and an active, rewarding life.

Sick bedrooms

According to Green America, bedrooms contain more allergens than any room in the house. It’s a major health problem considering the amount of time people spend in their bedrooms and the importance of a good night’s sleep to one’s overall health. Your bedroom may be home to multiple allergens, from pet dander to mold. Cockroach droppings are another common source of allergic reactions.

Bear in mind that the less cluttered your bedroom is, the fewer places bacteria, dust mites, and other respiratory irritants have to hide and thrive. Keep boxes and bags stored in the basement or closets, where exposure is less likely. Carpeting is known to be a major source of allergens and, in many cases, should be removed or replaced with some cleaner form of flooring. If new carpeting is impractical, try a more intensive cleaning regimen with anti-allergen cleaners. There are several very effective brands on the market these days that can eliminate all manner of allergens from carpeting.

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Lethal paint

Lead paint is well-known today as the cause of many neurological problems and of an underdeveloped brain in children. Adults who are exposed to lead paint are at a significantly heightened risk of kidney damage. A worldwide effort, led by the World Health Organization, has helped reduce the prevalence of lead paint in developed countries, but it remains a significant cause of chronic health problems.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that roughly 40 percent of housing is exposed to lead paint. It should be removed and replaced with a safe substitute as quickly as possible. It’s recommended that a certified contractor be engaged to perform the work. (For protection from other household dangers, be sure to install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.)

Mental-health modifications

The ability to relax in calming surroundings is invaluable for people with stressful jobs or who struggle with fragile health. There’s no better place to relax than one’s own home, however, it may be necessary to make some modifications to create a truly healing environment. To that end, consider converting an unused bedroom into a reading room, an inner sanctum where the burdens of the day can be forgotten for a while. Add a few green plants, and you’ve got a refuge guaranteed to lower your blood pressure.

Flora and water

Creating a restorative green space in your yard can provide hours of enjoyment and a haven from the stresses and pressures of a busy day. Try creating a low-water landscape that favors durable and hardy yet green and lush plants planted not en masse but placed strategically.

Restful and healthy

Your home is the one place you should be able to retreat to with no health concerns, either direct or latent. That means ridding yourself of harmful substances and materials that could harbor dangerous elements. It also means taking the time to create a restful environment for you and your loved ones.



Natalie and her husband, Jason, recently bought their first home. She hopes to make the process of buying a home less scary for first-timers by sharing what she and Jason have learned along the way. View her website at


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