Is your home making you sick
Health and safety

Is your home making you sick?

Being aware of sources of indoor air irritants and allergens in the home is an important step in improving air quality. Find out how to keep your home air clean.

Is your home making you sick?

Did you know that the air inside your home can be two to five times worse than outside?

The Environmental Protection Agency released a report that 1,200 premature deaths a year can be attributed to poor air quality – that is over three a day. Considering that most of us spend 90% of our time indoors, these are seriously alarming statistics.

The fact is that poor air quality can put your family’s health at risk, so it’s vital to make sure that your home is well ventilated and free of items that cause pollution. Maintaining good indoor air quality in your home is an important aspect of asthma management and it is possible to eliminate or minimise exposure to common asthma triggers.

8 steps to healthier air at home

Is your home making you sick?


1. Do not smoke indoors

Never allow anyone to smoke in your home. There is no safe level of second hand smoke.

2. Ventilate your home

Simply keeping the window open whenever possible can ensure that there is a healthy circulation of air at all times. This will help to reduce humidity, which means less house dust mites and mould spores. Opening your bedroom window for 15 minutes each morning can make a big difference.

3. Get planting

House plants can help to produce cleaner, fresher air for your home.

4. Clean your home regularly

Keeping a clean house is a great way to keep your air clean. Giving the walls a regular wipe down can help to remove mould and invisible particles of dust and dirt. To avoid potentially harmful vapours, purchase nontoxic, nonaerosol, unscented cleaning products. Store household cleaners and chemicals securely in their containers.

5. Wash bed linen and upholstery regularly

Large pieces of fabric hold onto dust mites and other allergens. Drapery, shower curtains, and bedding must all be laundered regularly in a hot wash.

6. Dust with a damp cloth

A damp cloth prevents stirring up dust from one place to another.

7. Use an air purifier

Air filters and purifiers clean the air and can reduce the number of asthma triggers such as pet dander (flakes of skin), mould spores, dust and tobacco smoke particles.

8. Keep your pet groomed 

Bathe and groom your pet regularly, wash his bedding as much as possible in a hot laundry cycle and don’t allow pets into the bedrooms.

Did you know?

Ireland has the 4th highest prevalence of asthma in the world – 7.1% of Irish adults suffer with asthma. One in three people suffer from asthma, allergy and hayfever, and this number is growing.

Is your home making you sick?

“Both my boys have asthma and one suffers from allergies too. Last weekend, I decided enough was enough and finally tackled their bedroom. Their usual room tidying technique involves them stuffing everything under the bed and hiding anything left over in their closet. Among the odd socks, sweet wrappers and broken toys that I found under the bed was a mountain of dust. Once cleaned out and vacuumed, I moved on to the windows. Unfortunately, we don’t have double glazing and the rims were covered with black mould that I hadn’t had the time or energy to properly tackle previously. With the help of my boyfriend we cleaned and bleached each and every window frame in the house. It’s early days, but there has definitely been an improvement in the allergy issues.” – Kate Gunn 

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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.