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Healthy at Home – The What, The Why and The How

Simple steps to keeping your home, and everyone in it, healthy and safe.

Be aware of dangerous household chemicals

What: Harmful cleaning products, such as drain cleaners, floor-care products, oven cleaners, window sprays, disinfecting wipes, furniture and metal polishes, pesticides and laundry products.

Why: These chemicals can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs, and worsen conditions such as asthma.

How: Use products that are third-party certified to be safer for health and the environment or make your own cleaning products. Get started with our Living Green Guide or watch our video on making a non-toxic, all-purpose cleaner. Carefully follow any instructions for use and storage provided on product labels.

Steps: Choose products that have a third-party certification like EPA’s SaferChoice, Green Seal or ECOLOGO and store them safely. Check the labels of household products for words such as “caution,” “warning,” “danger,” or “poison.” Do not flush these products down the toilet, or pour them into sinks, drains, storm drains or onto the ground. Check with your local waste management district for information on how to properly dispose of household hazardous waste.

Secure your home against potentially harmful substances

What: Alcohol, tobacco or nicotine products, and other drugs – including prescription medications and cannabis.

Why: To prevent substances from being swallowed accidentally.

How: Keep potentially harmful substances out of sight and out of reach for children and pets.

Steps: Place harmful substances on high shelves, behind closed doors, install child-proof latches, lock medicine cabinet. Learn more about safe disposal

Clean up lead dust in your home

What: Lead is found in paint and older items in your home that crumbles over time into invisible dust.

Why: Anyone can swallow or be exposed to lead dust and become poisoned, but young children, pregnant people, and pets are especially at risk.

How: Use lead-safe cleaning and lead-safe work practices to keep your home free of lead dust.

Steps: When cleaning, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, a three-bucket mopping system, and disposable towels to wet-clean windowsills and other hard surfaces. Repair chipping or peeling paint using lead-safe work practices (like wet-sanding and wet-scraping). Learn more about lead hazards and lead poisoning

Keep your drinking water safe

What: Naturally occurring contaminants found in soils and bedrock, like arsenic and uranium, can find their way in your drinking water. Water can also be contaminated by human activity, like manure from farm fields, leachate from septic systems, or runoff from road salt. 

Why: You can’t see, taste or smell most harmful contaminants in drinking water.

How: Know what’s in your water by testing it and installing treatment if necessary.

Steps: If you have a private well, have it tested every year for coliform bacteria and every 5 years for inorganic chemicals and gross alpha radiation. You can order test kits from the Health Department Laboratory or from a certified drinking water labLearn more about testing your drinking water

Check your home's indoor air quality

What: Your indoor air may be polluted by things like radon, carbon monoxide (CO), secondhand smoke, and asthma triggers like mold and other harmful air particles.

Why: Breathing air pollutants can lead to allergic and asthmatic reactions, infections, and other health problems related to the lungs, nose and throat. Other indoor air pollutants, such as CO, can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and even brain damage and death. Breathing air with radon increases the risk of getting lung cancer.

How: Take the necessary precautions to minimize the risks of indoor air pollutants in your home.

Steps: Order a free home testing kit to check your home for radon. Install CO alarms to alert you to dangerous levels of CO. Be on the lookout for mold in areas of your home with water or moisture intrusion, such as leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes—or where there has been flooding. Musty or moldy smells in these areas can be signs of mold growth. Make sure you hire a licensed contractor to handle mold problem areas that are larger than 100 square feet.

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More steps to staying Healthy at Home

The condition of your home and any hazards within it can affect your health and safety. A healthy home helps prevent disease and injury. Here is an expanded list of steps you can take to keep your home healthy.

Keep your home well ventilated

Improve air quality and reduce pollutants by bringing fresh air into your home and keeping air flowing. Open windows and doors when the weather is good, run bathroom fans while showering, and use kitchen fans while cooking.

Keep your home dry

Moisture in your home can cause mold to grow and attract pests. Check regularly for water leaks and fix them right away – and clean up any water spills quickly.

Keep your home clean

Be sure to clean up dust and dirt, which can trigger asthma and even hide invisible lead dust. Pick up clutter, which is a tripping hazard and a hiding place for pests. Use a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter and wet-mop regularly.

Keep your home safe

Always make sure poisons are properly labeled and out of children’s reach. Assess your home for surfaces or objects that could cause injuries, especially to children. Make sure smoke alarms are working properly and that your drinking water is free of contaminants.

Keep your home well maintained

Regularly inspect your home to make sure it is physically and structurally sound. Keep up with minor repairs to stop small problems from becoming big ones—such as shaky handrails, holes and cracks, and water leaks. Follow Vermont laws on lead and asbestos when renovating your home.

Keep your home environmentally sound

To help the environment – and save money – make your home energy efficient, choose non-toxic cleaning products, and use non-toxic building materials. These products and materials also help make your home safer.

Keep your home pest free

Pests can cause disease and trigger asthma. Keep these unwanted guests away by keeping your home clean, storing food properly, closing trash containers, and sealing holes and cracks. But be sure to avoid using dangerous chemicals and pesticides to remove pests.

Keep your home free of toxins

Follow practices to keep your home safe from lead and asbestos. Minimize the use of toxic household cleaners, pesticides and other chemicals.

Keep your home safe from dangerous gases

Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation cracks. Keep your home free of tobacco smoke. Use efficient wood burning stoves, and make sure carbon monoxide (CO) alarms work properly.

Contact Us

Healthy Homes Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Phone: 802-863-7220 or 800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont)

Fax: 802-863-7483

Email: [email protected]

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