How to maintain a healthy home environment during COVID-19

    Information Provided By: Selina Kuok

    With the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, many people have been staying home to prevent infection and the importance of good home ventilation has been highlighted as a result. With the limited space and humidity in Hong Kong, it can feel like it is difficult to encourage air ventilation, but there are some simple actions you can take to improve your home environment.

    General tips to maintain a healthy home environment

    • Make sure to open your windows once in a while to let in fresh air
    • Turn on fans to improve the air circulation in the home
    • Consider using an air purifier with a HEPA filter (some are certified to filter chemicals like formaldehyde)
    • Use dehumidifiers to keep humidity levels down and reduce mould growth
    • Reduce the use of toxic materials at home: try to find eco-friendly cleaning products, use disinfectants only when needed, avoid scented cleaning products, fragrances and scented candles
    • If the home has been recently renovated, keep the windows open to air out any airborne chemicals like formaldehyde
    • When purchasing new furniture, try to choose options that contain are low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) or made with less toxic materials
    • Decorate your home with house plants
    • Reduce dust by dusting regularly, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, reducing clutter, and using an air purifier
    • Make sure to use the exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen
    What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting

    Germs can be found everywhere, including the surfaces and objects you touch in your day-to-day routine. However, it isn't realistic to wash your hands every time your touch something. This is why it is important to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects. To start off, it is important to understand that cleaning and disinfecting actually have different meanings as highlighted below:

    Cleaning

    • Removes dirt, dust, crumbs and germs from surfaces or objects by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically clean the surface or object
    • Doesn’t necessarily kill germs

    Disinfecting

    • Kills germs by using chemicals (such as disinfectants ── bleach and alcohol solutions)
    • Doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs

    Do you need to disinfect all the time?

    To a certain extent, cleaning alone removes most virus particles on surfaces and there is no need to disinfect your home on a regular basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that you should only disinfect your home if someone is sick or someone who tests positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within the last 24 hours.

    It is important to note that fragrances in consumer products such as cleaning products, laundry detergents and toiletries are a primary source of indoor air pollutants. Many people may not realise the damaging effects these chemicals can have and have been linked to many health conditions, including asthma, headaches, allergic reactions, and an increased risk of reproductive problems and cancer.

    Below is the recommended guideline on how to clean your home:

    • Use only the amount needed to get the job done. Disinfect only when and where it is needed
    • Avoid the use of fragranced products at home and choose products that are fragrance-free or eco-friendly
    • Do not mix cleaning products
    • Wipe the surface thoroughly with water afterwards
    • Limit the use of cleaning products advertised as pine or lemon-scented as these scents usually react with smog to produce formaldehyde and other harmful chemical substances

     

    Reference

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Clean and Disinfect at Home. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/easy-to-read/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html

    2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Cleaning Your Home. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html

    3. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. (2020). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/cleaningdisinfectingandsanitizing.html

    4. Patel S. (2017). Fragrance compounds: The wolves in sheep's clothings. Med Hypotheses. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28478814/

    5. Steinemann A. (2016). Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions. Air quality, atmosphere, & health. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5093181/#:~:text=The%20most%20common%20types%20of,%25%20cardiovascular%20problems%3B%204.0%20%25%20immune

    6. University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing: San Francisco, California. (2013). Green Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education. UCSF Institute for Health & Aging, UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health, Informed Green Solutions, and California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ece_curriculum_7.2013_for_uploading.pdf

    7. T;, T.-K. T. J. H. F. Y. N. (n.d.). Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from furniture and electrical appliances. Kokuritsu Iyakuhin Shokuhin Eisei Kenkyujo hokoku = Bulletin of National Institute of Health Sciences. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21381398/

    Topics: COVID-19, Health & Wellness

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    OT&P Healthcare

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