Your House May Harbor More Dangers than You Think

unhealthy_home(TNS)–Soap may seem to be keeping germs at bay, but in many homes, it’s doing harm. Surprisingly, there are items lurking in most homes that are unhealthy because they’re old or contain harmful ingredients. The good news? For the most part, these things simply can be tossed to make the home healthier.

Problem: Antibacterial soap with triclosan

Why it’s harmful: This was believed to be more effective than regular soap, but a 2013 Food and Drug Administration report found that long-term daily use of the active ingredient triclosan may have unanticipated hormonal effects and may lead to antibiotic resistance.

Make a healthy home: While the agency continues to collect additional information on antibacterial soaps and body washes, consumers should wash their hands with plain soap and water. If those aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, said Andrea Fischer, FDA spokeswoman.

Problem: Older flooring

Why it’s harmful: Many people don’t realize that older flooring can contain cancer-causing asbestos, a significant threat. Especially in homes built before 1980, asbestos was used in a variety of construction products ranging from vinyl floor tiles to cement, said Elizabeth Ward, senior vice president of Intramural Research with the American Cancer Society Inc. Asbestos, which is a mineral fiber, was added to numerous products to provide heat insulation and to make them resistant to fire, but breathing asbestos can increase your risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Make a healthy home: If the flooring is in good condition and you don’t need to touch it or bother it, you can leave it alone, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Asbestos in good condition won’t release asbestos fibers, and there’s no danger unless the fibers are released. But if it’s damaged or if you’re going to renovate your home, you need a professional to remove the asbestos. It’s tricky because you can’t tell if something contains asbestos by looking at it, so you should treat everything as if it contains asbestos or have a professional take a sample for analysis.

Problem: Pressed wood

Why it’s harmful: Formaldehyde is released from the resin, which could be on paneling or veneers, said Dr. Albert Rizzo, senior medical adviser to the American Lung Association and section chief of pulmonary/critical care medicine with the Christiana Care Health System in Delaware. The average home has more than 25 parts per billion of formaldehyde in the air, and levels between 40 and 500 ppb can cause health issues, according to the California Air Resources Board, which said formaldehyde causes 115 cancer cases per million people because many homes have more than 200 ppb.

Make a healthy home: Newer pressed wood is the worst culprit. In older materials, the formaldehyde stops being released after it has been ventilated for a while. The time it takes varies depending on the degree of ventilation of the room and the size of the item. If you can’t get rid of the pressed wood, try airing the room out as often as possible. You will know the air is improving if you feel better in it (you won’t cough as much or feel stuffy, especially if you’re susceptible to asthma or hay fever, Rizzo said).

Problem: Contact lens case

Why it’s harmful: If you don’t replace your contact lens case every six months, you increase your risk of microbial keratitis by more than five times, and poor lens case hygiene increases your risk by more than 6 percent, according to a 2012 study from Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The problem with keratitis and also corneal ulcers are that they can affect your long-term vision,” said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, clinical spokesman for the academy and an ophthalmologist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Make a healthy home: Because a dirty lens case is the primary risk factor for eye infections in contact lens wearers, Steinemann recommends changing the case at least every three months. Wash the case with disinfecting solution (not just saline), and then air-dry it upside down daily. “It’s important to note that even if you care for your lens case fastidiously, a film builds up on the surface of the case,” Steinemann said. “It’s called a bio film, and it’s a magnet for dirt and germs. If you don’t change it out for a new one, you end up with this grimy layer that puts you at risk of a potentially serious eye infection.” He also said not to clean the case with water, which is not sterile and can also cause serious eye infection; that’s the same reason you shouldn’t shower or swim in your lenses.

Problem: Mascara

Why it’s harmful: Liquid makeup, including mascara, can harbor a lot of germs, Steinemann said. “If you think about it, each time you use mascara, you are brushing it and any germs on your lashes and also contaminating the brush even more with bacteria or viruses naturally present on your skin or eyelash hair,” he said. “In fact, one of the primary functions of eyelashes is to keep debris and germs from entering your eye, so then plunging into a moist room-temperature environment, like a mascara tube, encourages bacterial growth.”

Make a healthy home: Replace mascara every three months.

Problem: Dust

Why it’s harmful: Indoor air quality is 25 to 100 times worse than it is outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s because the average 1,500-square-foot house contains 40 pounds of dust.

Make a healthy home: You can’t remove your air, but you can clean it. Philip Tierno, professor of microbiology and pathology at the New York University School of Medicine, suggested using a HEPA air filter to remove tiny materials in the micron range. Even a small portable HEPA filter for the bedroom will lessen the number of allergens that you’re exposed to, he said. Tierno said to change the air filter once or twice a year or else it will prevent efficient airflow.

©2015 Chicago Tribune
Distributed by 
Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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This California Home Changes Color with the Position of the Sun

chameleon_housePicking the perfect paint color can be frustrating. Who really has the time to pore over paint chips? Or experiment with a slew of samples? Not these two California homeowners, who refreshed the outside of their home with a coat of prismatic paint that changes colors.

As Dwell recently reported, empty-nesters Ilhan and Kamer Eser chose to outfit their net-zero home with Dusty Rose, one of several finishes in the Valspar Kameleon Colors line (a missed opportunity for the Kardashians, no doubt). The hue is formulated with mica flakes that project an iridescent, gradient exterior of rainbow brilliance. When the sun’s waking, the home appears praying mantis-green; when it sets, the color transforms into a desert sand.

We’re not sure how the Esers manage to direct dinner guests to their home. “We’re the green house on the left. No, wait, it’s the yellow house… no, wait…”

No word yet on whether the color (or colors?) of this mood ring-inspired home will affect buyers, but kudos to the Esers for refusing to settle. We approve!

All photos courtesy of Dwell.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends for you and your clients.

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UPDATE: Joan Rivers’ Penthouse Reportedly Gets $28M Asking Price

Joan RiversUPDATE: Late comedian Joan Rivers’ opulent Manhattan triplex has sold for its asking price of $28 million, CNBC reports. Property records do not show the sale yet.

ORIGINAL POST 2/10/2015: Who knew the late Joan Rivers had such a fixation on Marie Antoinette?

Her Manhattan penthouse, which is listed for $28 million, is how Marie Antoinette would have lived “if she had money,” Rivers joked in the 2010 documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.”

The comedian also told Vanity Fair that the ill-fated French spendthrift was the historical figure with whom she most identified.

“She had great style,” said Rivers, who died last fall and who won a Grammy posthumously this week for her spoken-word album “Diary of a Mad Diva.”

Over-the-top style gilds every room of this 5,100-square-foot penthouse near Central Park. An opulent ballroom adjoins a music room with 23-foot ceilings, antique boiserie paneling, plus two ornate fireplaces. A wood-paneled library features a fireplace and views of the park and the Manhattan skyline.

On the second floor, a mezzanine overlooks the ballroom and leads to a master suite with French doors that open onto a private terrace with more views of the park. Separate but contiguous guest quarters have 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and their own large living room with a fireplace and eat-in kitchen.

The home has been on and off the market since 2009. Leighton Candler of Corcoran Group Real Estate has the listing.


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Heidi Klum Rents Chic NYC Apartment for the Summer

Heidi KlumSupermodel and “Project Runway” producer Heidi Klum is summering in the West Village, renting out a town home that’s on the market for $17.95 million, the New York Post reports.

The rental comes less than a year after Klum sold her beloved Mediterranean mansion in Southern California.

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the 7,180-square-foot home overlook the Hudson River, as does a rooftop deck with its own hot tub, fireplace and kitchen with a wood-burning oven.

Designers Bob and Cortney Novogratz own the 5-bedroom, 4.5-bath home, which includes murals in the private garage and the entry hall.

The home’s indoor basketball court can be converted into a theater, and the living room features a glass garage door that opens onto a landscaped terrace.

Susan Green and Dana Power of Town Residential hold the sale listing.


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Locking Down Wireless Home Security for Renters

People put off installing home security systems for all kinds of reasons. Sure, having a big, barking dog and living in a nice neighborhood may help — but burglars are smarter than you think.

A burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the United States, and homes without security systems are up to three times more likely to be targets of a burglary.

And it turns out that renters are actually the last group of people who should delay securing their homes. “The burglary rate for rental properties was 56 percent higher than the rate for owner-occupied homes,” reveals a 30-year study by the U.S. Department of Justice.

If concerns about the price of a security system are holding you back, you might be surprised to learn that while monthly monitoring can run from $15 to $100, the average monthly cost is just $30. And when you factor in reduced renter’s insurance after your security system is installed, the cost of a safe home is cheaper than you’d think.

Still not convinced? Today’s security systems are more streamlined and easier to use than ever. With home automation a growing trend and apps available for everything in your life, it’s only fitting that your security system is just as tech savvy.

Benefits of a wireless home security system

If you’re debating whether a wired or wireless home security system is better, read on to learn why a wired system can’t compete with a wireless setup.

  • Affordable installation. Setting up traditional wired systems requires drilling through sheetrock to run cables through your walls. Wireless installation is mess-free, and often easy enough to install yourself rather than paying for a professional installation.
  • Clutter-free. With a wireless security system, individual sensors communicate wirelessly to the control panel. This means you won’t need to hide a network of wires within the walls and floors of your home.
  • Easy troubleshooting. Wireless systems make troubleshooting a breeze. Practically any issue can be solved remotely, saving you time and money on the technician visit you’d face with a wired system.
  • Portable. A wireless system is a portable system. You can take your security system with you when you move.
  • Less down time. With a wired system, when there’s a power outage or line cut, chances are your wired security system will go down, too. But wireless systems aren’t vulnerable to the same issues a wired system faces. And with a wireless system’s battery backup, you can rest easy knowing your home will always be secure.

Modern day security musts

With so many wireless home security options, choosing the best option for your family’s needs can be overwhelming. Here are a few of the top choices on the market today.

  • ADT. ADT’s wireless options include wireless motion detectors, door sensors and video cameras — and all enable you to adjust your sensors as needed.
  • Vivint. Vivint is ahead of the wireless security game. With options ranging from a doorbell video to remote door access, Vivint has security options for every renter’s needs.
  • Frontpoint. Frontpoint makes wireless security a breeze. With its touchscreen panel, mobile app, keychain remotes and wireless cameras, Frontpoint has you covered.
  • LiveWatch. LiveWatch’s PlugProtect system is a touchscreen system you can install yourself. And with the ability to add to your system as your needs change, LiveWatch will adapt with you as your family evolves.
  • Protect America. Protect America prides itself on having the latest wireless alarm technology. With glass break sensors to detect broken windows and garage door sensors to alert you if your garage is opened without your permission, Protect America has some of the most innovative security tech on the market.

Still unsure about which system is best for you? Consider whether you plan to move in the next few years, if you want mobile access, and if you really need security cameras. With endless wireless security options, it’s important to consider your needs versus wants.

DIY security options

With so many wireless home security options, cost should no longer be a worry. And it turns out, installing your own system is much easier than you’d think.

Most DIY systems are wireless; the basic elements of a DIY system are a main panel with keypad, sensors and motion detectors. You can compare DIY systems to choose the one that’s best for you.

There’s no excuse good enough to delay your home security planning. And with such ease in installation, instant alerts, interactive monitoring and lower costs than ever, now’s the perfect time to step up your rented home security game.


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