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CLEAN OFFICE,
HEALTHY MIND

The thought of a healthy office sounds like a contradiction at first,but think about what that means. A clean place to work productivelywith mental clarity for maximum creativity. A room that benefits youmentally, physically and emotionally.

Healthy living at work is about avoiding airborne allergens andpollution that interfere with your well being. Consciousness of youroptions greatly influences your healing decor decisions. To preventailments in your office, keep these tips in mind. You can tackle themone at a time, or all at once.

The Little Things

Work with plants. NASA research has proved certain plants cancombat sick building syndrome. They nourish your lungs with cleanoxygen. From low maintenance foliage to forcing buds, there areplenty of natural options. But be sure to enjoy their presence andbeauty while being assured theyíve not been chemically doused. Ifyouíre prone to allergies, there is reason to favor organic greeneryand blooms. Even pollen sensitive noses have sufficient houseplantchoices.

Purchase pesticide-free plants and flowers. Try your local farmerísmarket and community produce supplier, or perhaps thereís thatperfect transplant from your own yard? You can treat your lungs andnaturalize your decor at the same time.

The major allergy-triggering culprit in any room is dust mites. Theyreally are microscopic bugs, but the cause of allergic reaction is dueto the fecal matter in dust. I know, thatís gross, but the facts giveinsight to your needs for decorating and maintaining a healthy workarea.

Unfortunately, dust mites thrive in settings weíre attracted to. Theysettle in warm and humid materials, such as pillows, upholstery andcarpeting. Thatís not surprising, but did you know that they alsoflourish in fish tanks? Candles bring great enjoyment, but the sootclings to mites which ultimately affects breathing. How frustrating;theyíre everywhere!

But there are solutions. A dehumidifier can keep humidity down to asafe 30 to 50 percent level. Monitor the level with a hygrometer youcan purchase from a local hardware store. Small dehumidifers areavailable for enclosed spaces, like closets and cabinets, to removeexcess moisture. Another dehumidifier plus is mold prevention.

Decor pillows made with encasements are best to trap mites. And beconscious of materials used for upholstery and pillows. Sensitivepeople invite problems with chemically treated fabrics. Typicalchemical examples on fabrics are formaldehyde, chlorine bleach andharsh synthetic dyes. Natural fabrics donít require toxic processingand are generally safer for people with immune disorders.

Pillow cases and slip covers that can be wet cleaned or machinewashed are best to control mites. Fluff pillows before vacuuming.Down feather stuffing is a popular luxury and ecologically favored,but itís dust mite heaven. However 20 minutes in the dryer will killfeathered mites, so itís not that difficult to control.

As for the fish tank, wipe the inside weekly to remove the residueabove the water line. Then enjoy the therapeutic view of life underwater. Use natural candles made of beeswax or a vegetable-basedwax, such as soy. Avoid soot from paraffin wax and syntheticfragrances. And observe whether youíre sensitive to any botanicalsin essential oils, which naturally scent candles. The preferred wick isuntreated cotton or hemp that should be kept trimmed to 1/4 inch. Alonger wick invites soot and mites.

Bigger Stuff

Wool has the best properties to prevent problems in comfy carpetsand rugs. It actually purifies indoor air by locking contaminants (suchas formaldehyde or nitrogen and sulfur dioxides) into the core of thefiber. Wool fibers are naturally dirt and stain resistant. A thin,water-repellant membrane covers each fiber, visible under amicroscope. The membrane prevents soil penetration and staining.

Another resourceful reason to choose wool is for comfort. It keepsyou cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Thatís because itcan either absorb or release moisture. Organic wool is an idealstuffing for upholstery and the demand has increased production.

With the right equipment, vacuuming dirt is quick and effective. Yourvacuum should trap the dust, not blow it back into the air. TheAmerican Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommendsusing a High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) vacuum.

Custom upholstery is smart. Consider color-grown organic cottonfabrics on your furniture. I am so impressed with the beautifulweaves in the eco market today. Find designs and styles for everytaste. The selection is outstanding for comfortable, handsome andhealthy furniture. Some retailers are offering do-it-yourself organicupholstery kits with your fabric or theirs.

Recycling and refurbishing furniture is great, but donít forget aboutresourceful new bamboo, palm and rattan. The look can beanywhere from elegant to playful. Customize unfinished furniturefrom a growing choice of natural stains and nontoxic sealers.

Drapes and window treatments often require their own cleaningtools. Think about your commitment to maintenance, which isremoving dust, when planning your office. Utilize fabrics like hempand silk blends, a great duo of durability and luxury, in prima colorsfrom low impact dyes.

Prevent S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder, with proper lighting.You want to replicate natural daylight if you donít have it withwindows. Sun glares can get tricky with computer monitors, sofurniture placement is important. Fung Shui techniques can help.

Major Basics

Ceilings, walls, floors and windows are important factors for ahealthy room. Primary questions to ask yourself are: Do any of yourbuilding materials contain chemicals that off-gas? Can you, and doyou, open your windows?

Natural wood, linoleum, cork, clay and concrete are ideal basicchoices, but consider products made from recycled materials too.Most manufacturers have invested heavily into research anddevelopment, so the scientific safety data of recycled products isreadily available. These smart companies are advertising theirenvironmental missions with pride.

There is a favorable selection of natural paints, oils, and nontoxicsealers, expanding every day. All such products are safer dry thanwet, so health concerns are focused on the applicator. Itís a goodidea for a novice applicator to experiment first. Thatís becausenatural coatings have different textures with unique instructions.

In most cases, the air outdoors is less pollutant than the air in yourhome. Considering we spend most of our time indoors, thatísstartling. The sick home or office problem is prevalent enough tosupport a new breed of business. Consultants who offer testing andtreatment programs to neutralize the effects of indoor air pollutionclaim their clients increase energy levels and general well being.Indeed, from little things to major stuff, your healthy office can makea diff in the way you feel and work.

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Written by: Delia Montgomery, ChŪc Eco


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