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3 Ways To Nurture Your Home Biome

Do you know how to nurture your home biome like we nurture our gut biome? The last decade, we’ve heard more evidence about how the gut microbiome is key to our health and well being. If we’ve learned anything about environmental science, we know that a microbiome is an environment as well. In fact, our gut environment works together with all microbes to protect and maintain the gut’s health (1). Subsequently, this helps preserve and protect our health.

Woman reading book near plant - Homebiotic - ways to nourish your home biome

But did you know that our home is also a microbiome? Just like the gut, the home has a host of microbes that need each other to keep the house clean and healthy. More and more, we’re learning that to nurture environments means to create balance and future stability, whether that environment is internal or external (2).

Since all living things exist in a symbiotic relationship with other living things, it seems straightforward that our bodies and homes co-exist (3). We’re doing better at nurturing our gut biome, but what about our home biome?

The truth is, most people don’t know how to maintain and nurture their home microbiome. However, it’s surprisingly easy, and once you understand how, you’ll be able to nurture your home microbiome as easily as you would your gut biome. Here are 3 easy ways you can nurture your home biome:

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic QuarantineChoosing The Right Cleaning Supplies Will Decrease The Death of Healthy Microbes

Let’s compare a home microbiome to the gut microbiome. There’s one thing we know that decimates healthy microbes – antibacterial substances. We know that taking antibiotics (even though it may be necessary for an infection) will kill off beneficial gut microbes. The same happens in our homes (3,4).

In circumstances like infections or outbreaks of dangerous microbes, we would definitely need to use antibiotics and bacteria-killing substances. However, we need to proceed with caution and not go overboard.

If we use copious amounts of harsh antibacterial chemicals to clean our homes, we will lose all our friendly microbes (3,4). Instead, we can choose less harsh cleaners that will keep our homes fresh, reduce harmful microbes, but will spare the healthy ones. Using things like vinegar, essential oils, or environmentally friendly cleaners will help.

If we use copious amounts of harsh antibacterial chemicals to clean our homes, we will lose all our friendly microbes Click To Tweet

Less Cleaning Will Enhance The Growth & Health of Your Home Microbiome

However, even if you use less harsh cleaners, you can still kill off too many good guys if you clean too frequently (4,5). A good rule of thumb is to clean once a week with the cleaners mentioned above. If your home feels too dusty, you can always just wipe surfaces with water rather than using cleansers.

Again, if you’ve had an outbreak of salmonella or dangerous mold growth, of course, you will need to take care of it. But in the absence of those issues, there’s no need to over-clean.

If you think about it, we never “clean” our guts. At times we may need antibiotics to “clean” out microbes that could be making us sick, but other than that, we don’t think about cleaning our guts. Our home environments do get cluttered, dusty, and full of grime. But really, it’s only the grime that may need cleansers. Everything else just needs tidying up and wiping with a damp cloth.

Our home environments do get cluttered, dusty, and full of grime. But really, it's only the grime that may need cleansers. Everything else just needs tidying up and wiping with a damp cloth. Click To Tweet

bathroomAdding More Soil-Based Microbes Acts Like a Probiotic

Most people don’t know this, but a little dirt is actually good for you, and it’s also good for your home. Dr. Josh Axe writes about the benefits of soil-based microbes in his book “Eat Dirt.” He says that we can re-establish the symbiotic relationship that we’ve always had with them by increasing our exposure to diverse microbes (6). This relationship keeps us healthy and shapes our immune system. Certain microbes not only keep harmful microbes at bay, but they also strengthen our immune systems (6).

For a while, we only focused on enhancing our guts’ microbial diversity, but this is also essential in our home environments. In the book “Never Home Alone,” biologist Rob Dunn looks at the variety of microbial, insect, and animal life alive in most homes. He noticed that many illnesses in modern society increased simultaneously as the microbial life inside of modern homes decreased (5).

It seems that the more we nurture our relationship with soil-based microbes, the more we create balance and health in our homes, which, in turn, enhances our health. Perhaps a new version of “clean” in our homes is one where we allow a bit of outside dirt to come in. Playing in nature with pets and other humans will naturally bring outside soil-microbes into the home (4). We can also explore the use of home probiotics that foster our microbial relationship (7). Our Homebiotic spray is the perfect way to add soil based probiotics to your home, keeping it balanced & fresh!

It seems that the more we nurture our relationship with soil-based microbes, the more we create balance and health in our homes, which, in turn, enhances our health. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

These are the top three ways to nurture our home microbiome. It’s time we think of our home health in a similar way as our gut health. Instead of creating an overly clean and sterile environment, we can strive for a more balanced approach.

Of course, no one wants a dirty home that smells bad. But maybe the definition of a clean house is one that includes a more natural and symbiotic relationship with the world we live in. Perhaps a clean home is one that allows some microscopic dirt to accumulate without the use of harsh cleaners.

By nurturing our home microbiome, we create a healthy environment that goes back to the basics before the advent of bleach and antibacterial cleansers. As humans, we depend on our home environments’ symbiotic relationship, just as our gut microbes rely on us for their home environments. In this way, a healthy home microbiome is a part of promoting our personal wellness too.


References

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935115000304

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/dr-josh-axe/eat-dirt/9781509820955

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19201053/

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7 Ways To Keep Your Home Mold Free

You’re stuck in that cycle. You clean for HOURS then a couple days later those pesky musty odors are back! So we bet you’re wondering: How do I keep my home mold free? How do I keep those stale smells away?

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap.

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap. Click To Tweet

But maybe you need to readjust your relationship with mold. After all, mold is a natural organism that’s been on planet Earth for far longer than humans! Mold is going nowhere. Do you know what isn’t natural? An over-clean, sterile home!

While wiping down with bleach and spraying antibacterial cleaner around may seem to beat back the mold, these cleaners can actually do your environment further harm. And though it seems unbelievable, mold isn’t a problem in itself. Unsafe levels of mold is a problem – for both your health and quality of life. Controlling mold in your home is as easy at this 7 step check-list:

1. CONTROL MOISTURE & CONDENSATION

Mold adores a moist, warm atmosphere, and the right conditions are key to how it reproduces, spreads, and forms new colonies. By taking control of the moisture that enters and circulates your home, you can gain the upper hand, and keep your home – and the air you breathe – healthy. That said, if you are living in a property that has previously been flooded, it may be wiser in the long run to move.

Now is the time to consider:

  • PROPERLY REPAIRING HOLES IN YOUR ROOF OR GAPS IN YOUR WALLS1 – mold spores can come through the gaps in external walls, while a leaky roof can be all too encouraging for mold.
  • FIXING PLUMBING – while dealing with that slow drip under the faucet might not be top of your chore list, not dealing with it is a way to foster mold.
  • REMOVE WET CARPET OR OLD CARPET THAT HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY WATER DAMAGED – it’s very difficult to remove mold from carpets.
  • REDUCE MOISTURE AROUND WINDOWSILLS – using moisture eliminating products like absorbers or traps on your windowsill if you have condensation, as otherwise mold may eat at wooden frames, or collect on PVC window seals.

2. CONTROL HUMIDITY

Mold loves humidity, and in your home it’s not enough to simply remove the sources of moisture. When you breathe out, you’re exhaling moisture, and many aspects of daily life, like cooking, and using a clothes dryer, produce more humidity.

The most straightforward thing you can do is invest in one or more dehumidifiers to help control the humidity inside your home, making it far more difficult for mold to multiply. Keeping the humidity in your house at 50% is best – it’s the sweet spot where mold growth is inhibited but not so low that it encourages the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, use an exhaust fan or open a window while you cook.

Do not install a Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) purely for dealing with humidity – it’s a common misconception that ERVs work as a dehumidifier – they do not. Instead, they allow the exchange of heat or coolness between the air indoors and the air coming in from the outside, which can be helpful depending on the climate in which you live, but a ERV is no alternative to a dehumidifier.

3. CLEAN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT

You rely on your air conditioning unit to cool your home, and often heat it as well, and it’s easy to take it for granted. When tackling mold, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean and maintain your air con on a regular basis. Unfortunately, mold colonies can live in air conditioning ducts, meaning that the spores and toxins they emit can spread throughout your home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend hiring a professional to clean your air conditioner if you suspect a mold infestation2. Above all, DO NOT run your air conditioner if you suspect it contains mold – it spreads the problem to other places in your home, and potentially re-contaminate areas of your home you may have already cleaned.

4. INSPECT INDOOR PLANTS

Houseplants can harbor mold, as the moisture and warmth of the soil is very beneficial to growing mold. Although houseplants are often an easy way to improve air quality in your home, if their pots of soil have mold, the health drawbacks can often outweigh the positives.

If you have this issue, consider keeping plants outside or in a dedicated greenhouse and avoid keeping the plants indoors where possible.

5. TACKLE YOUR CARPETS

As stated above, if they have been affected by flooding, you must throw the carpet away, as no amount of cleaning can eradicate the particular water-based molds that can attach to the fibers3.

But if you have carpet in your home that you suspect has been compromised by mold, it’s crucial to clean your carpet more thoroughly, removing any mold spores. With a true HEPA vacuum cleaner, you’re able to eradicate mold spores with the powerful motor and high quality filter.

Remember:

  • To empty your HEPA vacuum cleaner outside, to avoid spreading a cloud of spores back into the air.
  • It takes time to remove all mold spores from your carpet – it’s not an overnight solution to your problem, and the vacuuming needs to be done in combination with the other items on this list before you see or feel any improvement.
  • To try to vacuum from several different angles in order to suck up as many mold spores as you can.
  • Professional steam cleaning can help keep a carpet free of irritants including mold

6. USE BORAX ON FABRIC, SURFACES AND WALLS

Borax is the best substance to use on fabric because it’s a lot gentler than bleach, but it’s also amazing on porous surfaces such as wooden furniture, worktop and table surfaces, and walls4.

Though bleach can work wonders on sinks and floors, it’s simply not suitable for combating mold. Bleach can not:

  • Kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood or drywall
  • Remove mold toxins and spores
  • Sanitize organic surfaces that mold prefers to feed on5

Unfortunately, bleach also removes the friendly bacteria that normally consume mold, potentially making your mold issue worse!

By choosing borax (sodium borate), you’re using a natural mineral to change the natural pH of the surface or fabric. The alkaline of borax disrupts the environment for the mold, making it unwelcoming. Use a combination of disposable wipes, microfiber cloths and diluted borax to clean porous surfaces. Soak fabric for half an hour in a mix of one cup of borax to one gallon of water before putting in the washer to clean. Always wash your hands after using borax.

7. USE HOMEBIOTIC TO BALANCE YOUR HOME

Mold is a symptom of an unbalanced home biome. Once any visible mold has been appropriately remediated you need to make sure you make appropriate efforts to rebalance your home, keeping away musty odors & grime. Homebiotic spray rebalances your home biome using non-toxic, chemical free probiotics. Our proprietary formula used soil-based probiotics that are safe for your family, including the furry ones!

Homebiotic Spray - Environmental Probiotics

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What Can I Learn by Testing My Home Biome?

In the past several decades, modern life has revolved around a shared understanding of our homes. We see our homes as safe sanctuaries for living, relaxing, and raising our families. And as such, we’ve developed codes of conduct around keeping our homes clean, tidy, and void of anything unsafe or unsanitary. But have you thought, “What can I learn by testing my home biome”?

However, in recent years we’ve seen a rise in new health issues, which has sparked questions around the safety and health of our homes. We realize that our closed-in living spaces no longer include a relationship with our outdoor environment.

More importantly, researchers and experts are beginning to see that the lack of biodiversity inside our homes is problematic.

This has prompted some crucial discussions and research about what’s living and not living in our homes. Indeed, this may be the start of a new era of modern life where we change our ideas about what safe and healthy actually means for our home environments.

What Is A Home Biome, And Why Does It Matter?

The home biome refers to everything that lives in our homes. It may be surprising to hear that humans are the minority inside our own homes. In the book “Never Home Alone,” author and biologist Rob Dunn recounts the myriad of life that resides in our living spaces 1.

Not only do we live with other creatures like spiders and crickets, but we also share a home with thousands of tiny microbes, most of which are beneficial to us. The home biome matters as much to our health and well being as does a healthy diet or whether we get enough sleep each night 1.

Most of us have heard about the importance of a balanced gut biome. Yet, few understand that a balanced home biome is also essential. And that balance includes having many diverse microbes living in harmony with us 1,2.

Most of us have heard about the importance of a balanced gut biome. Yet, few understand that a balanced home biome is also essential. And that balance includes having many diverse microbes living in harmony with us Click To Tweet

In his book, Dunn refers to several studies looking at the differences between the home biome of modern people versus those who live surrounded by more biodiversity. For example, one study compared the microbes in modern homes with those of homes that were more open and connected with nature.

It turns out that the children raised in homes that contained more biodiverse soil-based microbes did not suffer from allergies, asthma, or other inflammatory conditions 1,3.

Dunn also discusses other expert findings that reveal a relationship between our modern lives and inflammatory disease. It turns out that when the biodiversity around us decreases, human inflammation increases 1,3,4,5.

The presence of microbes in our home biome are required for our immune system to develop appropriately. A balanced home biome makes for a balanced immune system that neither under- or over-reacts. The exact evolutionary reason for this health benefit isn’t completely understood yet. However, we do know that a closer connection to outdoor biodiversity is what brings balance to the home biome 1,3,4,5.

In short, our physical and environmental health depends on living with diverse microbes. And these microbes must include those found in the soil and natural environment.

We also know that a balanced home biome is a strong defense against the few harmful pathogens that can live with us. It’s interesting to note that out of thousands of microbes, only a few are actually harmful to us 1. Microbes such as mold, salmonella, and e.coli are the main ones that we try to avoid in our homes.

We now understand that a balanced home biome that includes soil-based microbes is what keeps these harmful pathogens from becoming a problem. We just need to figure out how to nurture a healthy home biome in this modern age.

 

What Can I Learn by Testing My Home Biome?What Is Home Biome Testing?

The first step in fostering a healthy home biome is to know what’s growing within its borders in the first place.

We know a musty smell points to mold growth. Or if we prepare food and someone gets sick, this may point to salmonella growing on our cutting boards or countertops. Our first reaction is to get rid of harmful microbes, but we rarely think about how to bring in good microbes that may be of help to us.

But really, if we don’t know what’s growing in our homes, then we can’t do anything about it. So testing our home biome gives us an incredible tool for understanding the health of our home.

Many of us have used the ERMI test, which covers about 36 species of mold, while the HERTSMI test includes about 5 species. In this way, we no longer have to guess what’s happening with our home biome. Instead, we can understand the health of our home by identifying any potential dysbiosis.

Over-Cleaning Causes Increased Fungal Growth in Urban HomesWhat Is Environmental Dysbiosis?

Again, we are beginning to understand what happens to us when our gut biome is out of balance. By now, many people have heard of dysbiosis in our gut and the accompanying health issues. Now, we need to look at dysbiosis in our home environments.

Dysbiosis refers to a biome that is out of balance. This means that certain harmful microbes are growing unchecked, while other good microbes are not growing enough 7.

The reasons why we have dysbiosis in our gut are actually similar to why we might have it in our homes. In essence, we kill off too many good microbes, which allow the bad ones to grow. In the case of our homes, this often happens by over-cleaning with harsh antimicrobial solutions 8,9,10.

Research shows that mold can indeed be much more common in household areas that are “too clean”. And in the regions that are less cleaned, there is a higher diversity of microbes and less mold 8,10.

What Can I Learn From The Results of My Home Biome Test?

By testing the home biome, not only can we learn which harmful microbes may be growing in our homes, but we can actively do something about it. Also, we can understand more about the levels of beneficial microbes as well.

Through a home biome test, we can see if we have a mold problem or not. Mold growth says a lot about the dysbiosis of our homes because we know that rampant mold growth means a lack of diverse microbes 8,9,10.

Through a home biome test, we can see if we have a mold problem or not. Mold growth says a lot about the dysbiosis of our homes because we know that rampant mold growth means a lack of diverse microbes Click To Tweet

Through a home biome test, we’ll know the exact species growing in our homes, which means we can take the necessary steps to improve balance. Some of these steps include bringing in more soil-based microbes while easing up on our cleaning practices.

Where we were once obsessed with getting rid of dirt, perhaps now we need to relax more. Because having a bit of outside dirt in our homes, is quite frankly, exactly what we need.

While it may sound like a radical idea to bring in more dirt and clean less, the research is clearly showing that this is necessary for reducing environmental dysbiosis 1,7,8. In turn, this improves our own health too 1,4,5,7.

As our modern homes are less connected to the natural environment, this means soil-based microbes are no longer living with us the way they once did. And as mentioned above, without this balance, we’re seeing a rise in inflammatory disease.

Conclusion

Indeed, new developments in home biome research are making us pay attention to what’s living or not living in our homes. An increase in mold likely means we don’t have enough beneficial microbes. And this means that our homes may be in a state of dysbiosis.

By testing our home biome, we can arm ourselves with the knowledge we need to prevent or fix dysbiosis. And since we now understand the connection between home dysbiosis and the rise of inflammatory conditions, we must take steps to prevent this.

As our modern dwellings continue to change and evolve, we’ll need to figure out how we can maintain healthy homes that somehow include a relationship with our natural environments. As creative and intelligent beings, there’s much we can do to restore balance. And testing our home biome is an excellent step towards creating that balance.


REFERENCES

1. http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/
2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489
3. https://www.pnas.org/content/109/21/8334
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895627
5.https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791814/
7. https://letthemeatdirt.com
8.https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf
9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304
10. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

 

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Gut Biome & Home Biome: How Are They Related?

In the past decade, the importance of a healthy gut biome has been discussed between scientists, medical professionals, and health consumers. By now, most people know that bacteria reside in our guts and that they’re essential to our health. These bacteria are, together, what create the biome. However, many people still don’t understand why having diverse bacteria is important. More importantly, most people don’t understand the similarities and relationship between our home biome and the gut biome. We need the biome in our guts and our homes to be healthy and diverse at the same time.

Why Does Biome Balance Matter?

As living organisms, we’re connected to our living environments, so if one biome is unbalanced, chances are the other is too. Also, by understanding the similarities between the gut and home biome, we can make better decisions for how to improve and maintain them. However, many of us may not understand that the home biome is similar to the one in our gut. Therefore, people may not realize how to create balance in our home biome.

First let’s define both the gut and home biomes and look at their similarities. Then we can discuss the importance of both biomes for the health of our bodies and living environments.

What is The Gut Biome?

The evidence is clear that having healthy and diverse microbes in the gut is essential for the development, functioning, and maintenance of our overall physical health. Gut microbes impact the digestive system, our immune system, our neurochemicals, and many other systems in our body 1,2,3.

For example, gut microbes are needed to help digest and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. This helps sustain the immune system, which is also connected to the nerves, brain, blood vessels, and other vital organs 1,2,3,4. Research shows that a gut biome that lacks diverse and healthy bacteria may be a root cause of health problems like diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune issues 3,4,5,6.

We’re all born with a sterile gut that becomes populated by essential microbes in infancy. The particular distribution of microbes is unique to each individual even though we share many microbial species between humans 1-6. Many issues can cause us to lose the diversity of our gut microbes. Things like illness, antibiotics, chemicals, food additives, and stress can all cause a shift in the balance of bacteria in our guts. This imbalance is called dysbiosis 5,6. Dysbiosis refers to both the loss of our gut microbes as well as an overgrowth of harmful microbes.

Why Are Healthy Gut Microbes Important?

A gut without enough microbes means that we may not have the ability to digest enough nutrients. Also, if one microbe is allowed to grow too much, this can lead to other health issues as well. An example of an overgrowth of harmful microbes is in a common condition known as candidiasis. This is an overgrowth of Candida yeast in the gut known to cause bloating, headaches, brain fog, and other health problems. Yet another example is a bacteria known as c. difficile, which is known to cause severe diarrhea 3-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There’s also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes. Lastly, we know that things like maintaining a healthy diet or decreasing stress can also help retain the microbe balance in our guts 1-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There's also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes.… Click To Tweet

The goal is to create an environment in our guts where diverse microbes can grow in healthy amounts. This healthy diversity not only contributes to the proper functioning of our bodies, but it prevents unhealthy microbes from growing in large numbers.

When it comes to the health of our guts, we need lots of healthy and diverse microbes that live well together and in balance.

What is The Home Biome?

Now that we understand the gut biome, let’s look at the home biome. Our homes also have a biome that is unique and essential in maintaining the health of our living environment. Just like our guts, our homes get colonized with a variety of diverse microbes, some of which are required to maintain balance and health. If our home biome is lacking in microbes, such as often happens when we overclean and create a sterile environment, then problems can arise 7,8.

Also, if we clear out a few key species of microbes that help maintain balance, we may see an overgrowth of other more harmful species. For example, microbes like mold, yeast, and salmonella can grow unchecked in a home environment that lacks sufficient diverse, healthy microbes 7,8.

So, we also need to consider ways to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria, the same as we would do for our guts. Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Also, just as we work to prevent a sterile gut, we want to avoid a sterile home environment. This means we don’t over-clean our homes with harsh chemical cleaners too frequently 7,8.

Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Click To Tweet

How Are The Gut & Home Biome Related?

Since we are biodiverse beings that are dependent on our environments, it makes sense that our gut and home biome co-exist. Of course, the microbial population in our guts and our homes will be somewhat different. But, studies show that homes are colonized by bacteria found in humans and pets that live in the house 8.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a whole. So obviously, if there is dysbiosis in the home, then there may be dysbiosis in the human biome as well 7,8,9,10.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a… Click To Tweet

Indeed, in recent years, research shows how the use of chemicals to clean our bodies and living environments can also affect the human biome 7. Also, we know that homes surrounded by diverse soil-based microbes such as farms or homes with a lot of green space are known to create healthier immune systems in children. This suggests that a direct connection to our environment is what actually creates robust body systems 9,10,11,12.

Lastly, a home that is lacking in diverse microbes is likely to have an overgrowth of harmful microbes like mold. In recent decades, mold illness in the form of allergies, asthma, and other related health issues are on the rise. So we know that our home biome has an effect on our health and well-being 11,12.

Why is This Important To Know?

The more we understand the connection between our gut and home biome, the more we know how to maintain health in both areas. As living beings, we are symbiotically connected to our environments. People are becoming more educated about the importance of healthy and diverse gut microbes. Still, they have yet to see the connection between their gut and their home biome.

The more we understand the importance of having diverse microbes in our guts and in our homes, the more we will take care not to create a dysbiosis in either. As we try to enhance our physical health to ensure the diversity of microbes in our gut, we can also do the same thing for our homes. It just makes sense to look after both so we can improve our overall health.


REFERENCES:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/
2. https://letthemeatdirt.com
3. https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2013/01/03/healthy-gut-healthy-you/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/
6. https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/354902
7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
8. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002
10. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2607/7/9/287
11. https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=
12. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

 

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How Mold Impacts the Environment

You may be familiar already with some of the health effects associated with mold exposure, but have you considered how mold impacts the environment? The environmental impacts can go much further than the initial mold issue. Specifically, the impacts of traditional mold killing remedies can have far-reaching environmental effects.

Many people tend to reach for a bottle of bleach (or other bleach-based products) when tackling household mold issues, but as we’ve discussed before, bleach is not a good choice for dealing with mold. Beyond the health impacts of exposure to bleach, its use can lead to significant environmental impacts within your home and the areas around your home.

Negative Impact: Air Quality

According to the EPA, Americans spend roughly 90% of the time inside,1 where the concentrations of some pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher than concentrations typically found outdoors2. This situation is made worse when we consider that the people who are most vulnerable to poor air quality (eg. infants and children, the elderly, and anyone suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease) tend to spend more time indoors than others3.

In recent decades, as buildings have become more and more airtight for energy efficiency (itself not a bad thing, of course), indoor pollution levels have risen sharply. This is primarily due to a lack of sufficient mechanical ventilation in sealed buildings to allow adequate air exchange, as well as the rise in popularity of industrial-strength cleaning products now marketed for home use4.

In recent decades, as buildings have become more and more airtight for energy efficiency (itself not a bad thing, of course), indoor pollution levels have risen sharply. This is primarily due to a lack of sufficient mechanical… Click To Tweet

Usually, because these products tend to be extremely irritating to your eyes and mucous membranes (nose, throat, lungs), it’s suggested that they are only used in a “well-ventilated” area3. While this certainly can remove the pollutants from the immediate vicinity of the person using them, it does still result in noxious fumes being released to the outside air. In past decades, the phrase “Dilution is the solution to pollution!” was often repeated, but despite the catchy rhyme, it’s definitely not a solution. It’s also not just for air. This applies to what goes down your drain as well.

Negative Impact: Water Quality

If you live in a rural area or are on a septic system, you’ll no doubt already be aware that flushing bleach down your drain is a big no-no. But did you know that it’s also bad even if you are on a city sewer system? Nearly every wastewater treatment system uses bacteria to break down sewage, and exposure to antiseptic products within the wastewater can disrupt the beneficial bacteria. This can result in a reduced or incomplete breakdown of the biological material. In addition, many wastewater treatment systems are not designed to break down chemicals and so often they pass right through the system and are discharged into a lake, river, or other nearby body of water – sometimes the same body of water where drinking water is sourced from!

many wastewater treatment systems are not designed to break down chemicals and so often they pass right through the system and are discharged into a lake, river, or other nearby body of water - sometimes the same body of water where… Click To Tweet

It gets worse.

Common household bleach, also known as sodium hypochlorite, contains a reactive chlorine atom which readily reacts with both organic and inorganic material in water to form a group of substances called trihalomethanes. The 4 trihalomethanes are chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform5. These are all byproducts of the reaction of disinfection products with non-purified water, such as is found in household wastewater. Each of these is a Cancer Group B carcinogen (substances shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals). 

Trichloromethane (chloroform) is by far the most common in most water systems. Dibromochloromethane is the most serious cancer risk, (0.6 ug/l to cause a 10-6 cancer risk increase) followed in order by Bromoform (4 ug/l), and Chloroform (6 ug/l). EPA regulations strictly limit these chemicals at a maximum allowable annual average level of 80 parts per billion (80ppb) when used in drinking water purification systems, but there are no such controls for household wastewater6. With either a compromised city wastewater system or a rural septic system that could potentially contaminate a well or nearby body of water, these pose significant health and environmental hazards.7

Is There A Better Choice For Cleaning Mold?

Rather than using toxic cleaning products that create harmful fumes (Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs) that must be vented to the outside environment or using products that create disinfectant byproducts that are known to be carcinogenic, consider a more eco-friendly alternative.

Hydrogen peroxide, h2o2, can be as effective as bleach in disinfecting a surface but lacks the numerous negative side effects. The reaction uses oxidation rather than a chlorine reaction and produces only water as a byproduct, and no harmful fumes. Hydrogen peroxide, at a concentration of 3%, is effective for killing minor mold growth and disinfecting affected surfaces. It may discolor some materials, so be sure to spot test in an inconspicuous area first. This concentration of hydrogen peroxide is easily found at most grocery stores, drug stores, and of course online. A higher concentration of 7% can be found at chemical supply shops, beauty supply shops, and from online retailers including Amazon, and is more effective, but should be used with caution.

Hydrogen peroxide, h2o2, can be as effective as bleach in disinfecting a surface but lacks the numerous negative side effects. The reaction uses oxidation rather than a chlorine reaction and produces only water as a byproduct, and no… Click To Tweet

How To Use Hydrogen Peroxide On Mold

A common spray mister cap can be attached straight to the hydrogen peroxide bottle and sprayed onto mold spots. This will most likely generate a fizzing reaction for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Carefully wipe the spots away after the fizzing has subsided and at least 10 minutes have passed, and let the surface dry. If there is still mold visible, or it has left stains, you can repeat the hydrogen peroxide application several more times as needed. It’s advised that personal protective equipment be used when cleaning even minor mold spots, including a proper mask, rubber gloves, and eye protection. While the use of reusable microfiber cloths is advisable in many situations, this is not one of them. The mold should be wiped away with a disposable cloth such as a paper towel, which should be discarded immediately. You will likely want to have a fan operating nearby to help remove any excess humidity, although it is not required for the removal of fumes as there will not be any produced.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/6958939-report-congress-indoor-air-quality-volume-assessment-control-indoor-air-pollution-final-report
2. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/5936245
3. https://rais.ornl.gov/documents/EFH_Final_1997_EPA600P95002Fa.pdf
4. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-08/documents/nas_report_for_web.pdf
5. https://water-research.net/index.php/trihalomethanes-disinfection
6. http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/stage1/
7. http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/ard/documents/ard-ehp-13.pdf

 

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How To Avoid Over-Cleaning During The Pandemic

Did you know you can over-clean during the pandemic? We’re living at a time when antibacterial soaps, wipes, and cleaning products are rapidly being emptied off the shelves. With the coronavirus pandemic, people are frantically purchasing cleaning supplies to keep their homes safe.

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic Quarantine

Indeed, if you have someone sick at home or you’re immunocompromised and can’t participate in self-quarantine, then keeping things extra clean will be a priority.

However, it’s not necessary to be over-cleaning your home if no one is sick, and everyone has healthy immune systems. This is especially true if everyone is observing proper social distance or quarantine measures. So let’s talk about how to clean properly during this pandemic quarantine. You might be surprised to learn that over-cleaning may do more harm than good.

Over-Cleaning Causes Increased Fungal Growth in Urban HomesWhat is Over-Cleaning?

If no one is sick or immunocompromised in your home, then there’s no need to clean more often than you usually do. You likely don’t need to be wiping and scrubbing surfaces several times a day. You also don’t need to douse your hands or bodies in antibacterial soap or be doing outrageous amounts of laundry either.

There may be an urge to use lots of bleach and water to clean the bathrooms and kitchens every day, but this is not necessary. Cleaning once a week with non-toxic cleaners and keeping a regular laundry schedule should be fine. This is especially true if everyone is staying in, observing social distancing, and not exposed to anyone else.

There may be an urge to use lots of bleach and water to clean the bathrooms and kitchens every day, but this is not necessary. Cleaning once a week with non-toxic cleaners and keeping a regular laundry schedule should be fine. This is… Click To Tweet

Of course, if someone is ill in your house or you’ve been exposed then your cleaning regimen likely needs to increase. You’ll also need to use sanitizing agents to kill and remove the virus. If these situations apply to you, then you can follow the CDC’s cleaning advice to prevent other family members from getting ill 1.

Why Might Over-Cleaning Be Harmful?

By now, most people know that a sterile gut causes many health issues 2. Well, the same can be said about our home environment. If you strip away all the healthy microbes in our homes, you’re setting up your environment for an onslaught of unhealthy microbes, like mold 3,4.

The more we clean away all the microbes, the more mold sees those empty spaces as free real-estate to grow and reproduce. This is because many microbial species compete with mold, which keeps their numbers low. But if there are no bacteria at all, then mold has a much better chance of taking up space 3,4,5.

This is especially problematic when there are more people at home using water to clean, shower, or cook. And in colder months, when we usually keep windows closed, moisture from breathing and living can really build-up.

Nowadays, everyone is home more due to quarantine and shelter-in-place laws in many countries. As a result we have more people inside, which means an increase in moisture in many areas of the house.

Why Are These Factors Important?

So between freeing up real estate to over-cleaning mixed with more moisture and less ventilation, this sets up the perfect storm for mold to grow. And since many people are now developing allergies and asthma from mold exposure, this can cause more health problems as we’re all quarantined at home 5,6.

So between freeing up real estate to over-cleaning mixed with more moisture and less ventilation, this sets up the perfect storm for mold to grow. And since many people are now developing allergies and asthma from mold exposure, this… Click To Tweet

The other problem with over-cleaning is that we may be contributing to the creation of bacteria that are resistant to these cleaners. Bacteria that survive after they’ve been bleached or doused in antibacterial solutions are on their way to becoming resistant, and therefore more dangerous to our health 7,8.

Lastly, over-using toxic cleaners can be dangerous to your health in general. They can cause respiratory or skin irritations when used in high quantities. This may not help when you’re already concerned about staying healthy under the threat of coronavirus 7,8.

So How Should I Clean Properly?

As mentioned above, if no one is sick or immunocompromised, then regular cleaning once a week with non-toxic solutions like vinegar or essential oils will suffice. You also don’t need to use a ton of water either, just enough to wipe away the dirt and soap suds.

It’s essential to make sure you have ventilation around the areas that you do clean. Also, wherever your family conducts regular hand washing should have ventilation too. So be sure to turn on bathroom and kitchen fans if you have them. You can even use portable fans to keep air circulating throughout the home as well. If you’re able to open windows, that would be helpful too 3.

You also don’t need to use toxic antibacterial soaps for hand washing and showering. Regular soap works by attaching to bacteria and viruses and pulling them off. Then when you rinse with water, everything gets washed down the drain 9.

How Do I Clean When We Need To Shop?

When someone needs to do grocery shopping or pick up medicine and bring items back in the house, this can present some anxiety and confusion around cleaning. In this case, the person coming back from outside definitely needs to wash their hands 1.

If their clothes have been exposed, then they can either be left in a bag for several days or washed 1. But if they haven’t been in direct contact or within six feet of anyone, then there’s no need to do extra laundry.

Experts are saying that people don’t need to be as worried about grocery items as they thought 10. Using regular safety measures for food handling will suffice. The same goes for food wrap and plastic bags, just practice proper hand washing and food safety as you would typically do 1,10.

It can be dangerous to use toxic wipes or cleaners near or around open food. These solutions are not meant to be consumed and therefore, shouldn’t be used to disinfect any food. The usual food handling, storage, and cooking practices will be good enough 7.

It can be dangerous to use toxic wipes or cleaners near or around open food. These solutions are not meant to be consumed and therefore, shouldn't be used to disinfect any food. The usual food handling, storage, and cooking practices… Click To Tweet

Conclusion

As it was stated above, if no one is sick or immunocompromised and everyone is observing social distancing and quarantine practices, then there’s no need to over-clean. You can follow your regular cleaning and laundry schedule. And when you do clean, you don’t need to use toxic cleaners or use too much water.

Make sure your home is well-ventilated around hand washing and cleaning areas. And when leaving home to pick up food or medicine, the tips above will help you make the right decisions about the cleaning and storage of those items.

This is a confusing and scary time and many of us are feeling unsure about how to clean our homes and protect our families. Hopefully, these facts and tips will help you make the best decisions.

Remember, hand washing and distance is the best measure for preventing the coronavirus, so going overboard in cleaning your home is really not necessary.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html
2. https://letthemeatdirt.com
3. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
4. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
5. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28608416
7. https://journals.lww.com/pidj/fulltext/2000/10001/consumer_and_market_use_of_antibacterials_at_home.6.aspx
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK73515/
9. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
10. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/coronavirus-no-evidence-food-source-or-transmission-route