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Four Tips to Make Indoor, Winter Air Hepatitis C Friendly

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. December 4, 2009

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Discover four tips that can help those with Hepatitis C avoid additional liver damage from the high percentage of toxins found in wintertime indoor air.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that indoor air is more seriously polluted than outdoor air – even in the largest and most industrialized cities. Because pollution is toxic to the liver, those with Hepatitis C are especially vulnerable to polluted indoor air. Furthermore, the time typically spent indoors during the winter increases someone with Hepatitis C’s vulnerability to indoor air toxins during the colder months.

Depending on the health issues of each individual, exposure to environmental pollutants poses varying degrees of risk. Unfortunately, those with Hepatitis C are more susceptible to liver damage from environmental toxins because:

  • Their liver isn’t working as efficiently, so toxins normally processed by the liver remain in the body longer than usual. With toxins lingering in the body longer, those with Hepatitis C are more likely to incur cellular damage from the toxins.
  • When toxins cause injury to liver tissue, healthy livers typically rejuvenate quickly. However, those who already have liver damage from Hepatitis C are likely to have a much harder time recovering from toxin-causing injury.

The primary causes of indoor air quality problems in homes are from sources that release gases or particles into the air. Another prime culprit of indoor air pollution is inadequate ventilation – by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home.

Homes contain many sources of indoor air pollution, including:

  • Combustion sources like oil, gas, kerosene, coal and wood
  • Tobacco smoke – and its toxic aftermath
  • Building materials and furnishings like asbestos-containing insulation and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
  • Household cleaning and maintenance products
  • Central heating and humidification devices

As a result of dropping temperatures outside, many of us spend greater amounts of time indoors. Due to the fact that windows and doors are usually sealed tight during the winter to conserve energy, the concentration of indoor air pollution always increases during this time. Since those with Hepatitis C are more susceptible to indoor air pollution, the following four tips can help minimize the toxins breathed in each day:

Tip 1. Plants – NASA researchers found that common houseplants effectively purified the air in spacecraft. Household plants can remove common chemicals from the air, such as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. Peace lily, bamboo, palm, English ivy, mums, golden pothos, nepthylis, spider plant, snake plant, aloe, philodendron and gerbera daisies are among the top air-purifying plants.

Tip 2. Low VOC Paint – Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are plentiful in paint and are a known lung, liver, kidney and central nervous system toxin. If repainting a room is on your to do list this winter, choose one with low VOCs.

Tip 3. Replace Heating System Air Filter – Replacing a standard air filter with one that is pleated and electrostatic will capture more pollutants from a furnace’s forced air. Experts suggest using a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of 10 or higher.

Tip 4. Choose Cleaners Wisely – Cleaning products are known to harbor some of the most hazardous chemicals known. While several environment-friendly companies now offer toxin-free cleaning products, there are also many ways to make your own safe and effective cleaners.

Because many are cooped up inside, winter is definitely a time for those with Hepatitis C to be aware of indoor air pollution. The increased demand that indoor air pollution puts on the liver is best averted by reducing the amount of airborne pollutants in your space. Simple steps like adorning your living area with several houseplants, using low VOC paint, putting a new, pleated, electrostatic air filter in your heating system and using toxin-free cleaners all add up to improved indoor air quality. By reducing indoor air pollution, those with Hepatitis C can emerge in the spring unscathed by wintertime indoor air.

References:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/simple-steps-to-clean-your-indoor-air.html, Simple Steps to Clean Your Indoor Air, Retrieved October 17, 2009, care2.com, 2009.

http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/insidest.html, The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality, Retrieved October 17, 2009, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2009.

http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2009/04/cleaning_safety.html, Cleaning Safety for Hepatitis C, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Natural Wellness, 2009.

Paul, Nina L, Gina Pollichino, Living with Hepatitis C for Dummies, Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2005; 158.

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