Summer Healthy Home Threats

Summer Healthy Home Threats… in Every Home

Summer – the earth is warm, the flowers are in bloom, there are trips to the beach, celebrations, longer school holidays… 

If the songs are anything to go by, summer is the time when the sweetest memories are created.

And yet, like with every other season, there are summer healthy home threats.

What is a “healthy home threat”?

I like to define a healthy home threat as anything that interferes with, or poses a risk to, the good work we’re doing to create and maintain a healthy home. 

It could be pollen, an allergen, a rise in relative humidity, a leak, new paint, new taps, a new technology – there are so many possibilities.

What are the Unique Challenges Which Summer Brings?

The days are long and hot, with the sun rising early and setting late (often close to 8.30pm here in Melbourne). 

There are a great many celebrations – religious, end of year, solstice, and more.

In Sumer, we often:

  • Spend much of our days outdoors
  • Open our windows in the cool of the morning or as the change comes through
  • In more tropical environments, it’s hot, humid and wet
  • Crank the air conditioning
  • Eat lots of summer fruits (stone fruits and berries)
  • Gather for various parties and celebrations

Let’s now explore how these changes in our behaviour are linked to Summer Healthy Home Threats.


Increased Use of Fragrances

The increase in temperature, with or without high levels of humidity, tends to result in most of us perspiring (sweating) more than in the cooler seasons.

As a result, a lot of people put on more antiperspirant or use even more fragrances than usual in an attempt to mask any body odours.


  1. Wash more often – consider carrying a wet washer in a press-seal bag that you can wipe sweat off with
  2. Activated charcoal soap & deodorants
  3. Consider natural deodorants – some of my clients have used bicarbonate of soda, other swear by cider vinegar, personally, I prefer to mix up essential oils in a bottle of rose water and spray that on every few hours (essential oils evaporate quickly)

Reduced Indoor Air Quality

Closing the windows to keep the heat out and the cool in can cause indoor air pollutants to build up, which is never ideal.

This is made worse when bringing new items into the home – which are often still off-gassing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and potentially also formaldehyde.

Adding another layer to this is the increased temperatures speeding up the release of VOCs, which can readily form by-products in the air.

The great thing about this problem is that the solutions are simple!


  1. Ventilate your home. Open doors and windows at least 3 times a day (the ideal would be every hour) to exchange the air in your home.
  2. When you’ve got the windows closed, ensure your air purifier is going.
  3. Avoid using “air fresheners” and other scented products.

Moisture in the Interstitial Spaces

Condensation forms where there are variations in temperatures. What we see with the use of air conditioning, is condensation forming on the other side of plasterboards, outside of windows and also on the other side of the ceiling.

These areas are referred to as “interstitial spaces” and can be the site of many cases of “hidden mould.”

In 2018, I was in far north Queensland to present training on mould and was amazed to see the windows literally streaming with condensation – to the point that it looked like it was raining heavily.

This is a complex problem, but ultimately it rests heavily on the use of air conditioning – as this is what causes massive temperature variations.


  1. Explore alternative ways to cool – installing plants along the paths and in front of your windows to naturally cool the air, hanging a wet sheet across the open window or door, wetting your hair, clothes or skin.
  2. Aim to keep the inside temperature closer to the outside temperature – don’t set the cooling for 15oC, instead, set it for 25-30oC.
  3. If you can, keep the windows open a little to help even out the temperature a bit.


Higher levels of relative humidity in tropical and subtropical regions is the number one problem here.

It’s important to remember that there are mould spores everywhere, waiting for the right conditions. 

Often all they are waiting for is enough moisture. 

And high levels of relative humidity can provide this.

(This is why “mould is a moisture issue” – as I’m sure you’ve heard me say time and again).


  1. Keep an eye on the levels of relative humidity with a hygrometer, remembering the ideal range is 40-60% RH, with 50% RH being the magic number.
  2. If the relative humidity levels go above this, use a dehumidifier to bring them down to below 60% RH.
  3. Pull furniture from against the walls, so that air can circulate around it, as well as giving you the opportunity to check the walls for mould.
  4. Clean with microfibre cloths.
  5. Add essential oils, such as thyme and oregano to your cleaning water.

Mosquitoes & Other Pests

The combination of higher temperatures and higher levels of rainfall (as we’ve been seeing in Australia) results in more active breeding of mosquitoes, termites, cockroaches and rodents.

Each of them bring their own risks to either human health and/or the health of our homes.

While we consider them pests, we need to be considered in how we deal with them.

My preference is always to deter them, rather than kill them. 

If you prefer to kill them, then take great care with poisons – especially rodenticides (poison for rodents – rats and mice). Poison can be slow acting, and other animals further up the food chain can also be killed as a result. I’ll be putting a post together on this soon. In the meantime please read more here – as they also include a post about safer poisons.


  1. Install fly screens over doors and windows; and repair any old ones that are damaged.
  2. Use essential oils to deter them, such as my Bug Repellent.
  3. Read these posts for ways to deter cockroaches, termites and spiders.
  4. Keep your food in sealed containers – I love glass jars for this.
  5. Take your rubbish out daily, and ensure that your bin is closed.
  6. Clear wood out of your garden.
  7. Ensure that your property drains well and that there are no pools of water around.
  8. Keep your garden free food – collect fallen fruit, seal your compost, 
  9. Use a feeder for your chooks to prevent their food attracting rodents.
  10. Encourage native birds that prey on rodents.
  11. Encourage spiders that eat smaller insects.

Summer Healthy Home Threats… Sorted!

And, I wanted to share some final tips.

  • Make the most of the cleansing power of the sun – dry your laundry outside; wash bedding (and pillows if recommended by the manufacturer); and take your mattress outside to air. 
  • Take your rugs outside, and put them over a rail or airing rack and turn them over so both sides get the sun shining on them.
  • Spring cleaning is great, but summer cleaning is even better as the sun can really boost your efforts.

If you’d like any help with this – then you can book a call with me. I’d be more than happy to help solve your healthy home issues.

Healthy Homes 101 Checklist © Eco Health Solutions

Just starting your Healthy Home journey?


I’ve put together this Healthy Homes 101: Checklist for people just like you.

No more confusion, overwhelm or hype…

Just useful information to get you started.

Download your FREE copy here.

Spring Healthy Home Threats

Spring Healthy Home Threats… in Every Home

Although it’s my favourite season, Spring healthy home threats can be found in every home.

I love the palpable buzz of new life and energy. When we’re surrounded by colour as flowers burst open, and there are fledgling birds all around.

Here in Melbourne, it is considered the most variable of the seasons – I’m sure this is the season that inspired Crowded House’s “Four Seasons in One Day.”

And, like for every season, there are healthy home threats that are closely matched with this one.

What is a “healthy home threat”?

A healthy home threat is anything that interferes with the good work we’re doing to create a healthy home. It could be an allergen, a rise in relative humidity, a leak, new paint, a new technology – there are so many possibilities.

Which Challenges Does Spring Bring?

Spring brings with it longer days (with the sun rising earlier and setting later) as well as warmer days. In many areas, the winds pick up. And when I lived in the Blue Mountains, I braced for “thunderstorm season,” as I called it.

It’s important to understand how the season causes us to change our behaviour, as this can give us clues about what may pose a risk to our great efforts in creating a healthy home.

As Spring gains momentum, we tend to:

  • Get outside more
  • Open the windows to let the warmth in
  • Continue to use heating (as the days are still cool, and vary a lot)
  • Bring flowers inside
  • Get out into the garden
  • Plant vegetables, herbs and flowers
  • Some of us partake in the traditional “Spring Clean”

Let’s now explore how these changes can become Spring healthy home threats.

spring healthy home threats - eco health solutions

Mould Spores

Variations in temperature throughout the day, and also from room to room can create opportunities for mould to grow.

Another change is the increased ventilation as we open up to welcome in the warmth and beautiful Spring air.

Spring Cleaning results in us pulling furniture out, cleaning, sorting through items that may have been untouched for some time.

It’s important to remember that mould releases spores when there are any changes to its environment.

Releasing spores is how mould manages to spread and survive “attacks,” and we need to keep this in mind. 


  1. Aim to keep temperatures throughout your home as consistent as possible – opening ALL windows and doors can be part of this strategy.
  2. Use air purifiers, particularly when Spring Cleaning. (This one is the bee’s knees in terms of powerfully cleaning the air.)
  3. Wear a mask when Spring Cleaning.
  4. Use microfibre cloths when cleaning surfaces.
  5. If you find mould, check this post out for my dos and don’ts.
        spring healthy home threats - eco health solutions 4

        Dew Point

        Building materials having different temperatures can create the possibility of dew point being reached within the building. I know that sounds technical, but bear with me as I translate this.

        When dew point is reached, moisture in the air can condense on a cool surface – this could be on a wall or ceiling, or within the structure of the building itself. 

        Obviously then, this creates moisture. And, as I always say, mould is a moisture issue.

        In my years of assessing homes, I’ve seen some dramatic differences in the temperature of building materials, and have frequently found “hidden mould” in brand new builds.


        1. When heating your home, heat your entire home, and keep indoor doors open to help the temperature stay even throughout.
        2. Keep furniture at least 10cm away from exterior walls so that the walls maintain a consistent temperature.
        3. Ensure that your building is insulated properly – that the entire wall, ceiling or floor is insulated, and it has not been installed in a patchy way.
        4. Keep an eye out for condensation – and dry it off as soon as you see it with a microfibre cloth. If it’s on the ceiling or high window, you can use a flat mop, rather than climbing on a ladder.
        5. Watch the relative humidity – the more moisture in the air, the greater potential for condensation to form. Hygrometers are ideal for this.
            spring healthy home threats - eco health solutions (3)

            Pollen and Microbes

            Spending time outside can see an increase in exposure to pollen as dormant plants spring into life – which is a huge problem for people with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and also asthmatics.

            And of course, the increased winds can cause pollen to travel…

            And because gardening involves stirring up the soil, we can inadvertently be exposed to various microbes in the soil.


            1. Be aware of allergenic pollen in your area, check out this pollen calendar.
            2. If you have allergies (known or suspected) to pollen, then keep the windows closed, stay indoors, and keep your air purifier nearby.
            3. Check pollen alerts (you can get local apps for these).
            4. Keep an eye out for thunderstorm asthma alerts, too (I think mould is part of this picture, not just pollen, but that is yet to be proven).
            5. When you are out and about (including gardening), wear a mask, and consider protective eyewear.
            bed healthy home - eco health solutions

            House Dust Mites

            With the changing temperatures, we’re often caught out at night – either being too hot or too cold… 

            This can cause us to perspire (or sweat) a lot overnight – which is just what house dust mites want.

            House dust mites soak up moisture through their skin, and, a bit like mould, can thrive in moisture environments.


            1. Check the predicted overnight temperature before going to bed, and adjust your bedding accordingly.
            2. Pull the covers back to air your bed through the day – there’s no need to make it!
            3. When changing the sheets, vacuum your mattress while it’s still warm.
            4. Wash your bedding often and dry them out in the sun.
            5. Read this post for extra information on house dust mites.
            rainbow lorikeets spring - eco health solutions (2)

            Spring Healthy Home Threats… now under control!

            There you have it, healthy home threats that are unique to Spring… and most importantly, steps that you can take to protect your health.

            If you’d like any help with this – then you can book a call with me, I’d be more than happy to help solve your healthy home issues.

            Spring is the BEST time to create new routines…

            I’ve created a course that is for people just like you – keen to understand healthy homes at a deeper level… and to take more action.

            Having a home assessment is one thing (a good place to start) –

            Actually having a plan to move forward and maintain your home so that it supports your health is essential.

            And that what this course is – your step-by-step, easy to implement healthy home action plan. 

            Maintaining a Healthy Home

            I’ve reduced the price to just $97 AUD to support and empower you on your healthy home journey.

            Plastic-Free July (and every month)

            Why Avoid Plastic?

            Avoiding plastic has always been something high on my agenda.

            When I was a teen and a twenty-something, it was about protecting the environment –

            • not creating waste,
            • minimising the creating of single-use items, and
            • protecting our beautiful planet (in a very general sense)

            As I have gotten older, and understood more about the environment and health, it has become even more important.

            Here are three really big reasons to avoid plastics.


            1. Pollutants from Plastics

            Plastic bottles and containers can leach phthalates, xenooestrogens and other pollutant into the food, personal care or cleaning product with them.

            This can play havoc with our health, as they interfere with our hormones (“endocrine-disrupting chemicals”).

            What is more, they can also effect other animals that are exposed to them.


            2. Plastic Polluting

            Most of us already know about the piles of plastics in the oceans that form islands…

            Our PET bottles, condoms, bags, and so on, all sweep the oceans and accumulate in certain areas.

            As well, very small particles can break off plastic items (including synthetic clothing) to form microplastics.

            These tiny pieces are a massice problem in the environment.


            3. Killing Wildlife

            One example is seabirds.

            I saw a documentary where seabirds needed humans to help them survive.


            Parents were feeding their young plastic that they had “caught” in the oceans…

            Of course, the young were not able to digest it…

            So it accumulated in their stomachs.

            There were three big consequences of this.

            a) The presence of the plastics in stomachs of the youing birds could leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals… which might have devastating effects on the species.

            b) The birds were not being nourished properly – as plastic isn’t food!

            c) The baby birds were heavy with all the plastic in their stomachs – which meant that as they headed out to sea, they would not be able to fly, and would then drown.

            The scientists would catch the youngsters as they headed to the water…

            And get them to vomit out all the plastic.

            There was a surprisingly (and alarmingly) large amount of it!

            By removing the plastic from their stomachs, they were being given the best chance to survive.


            It was truly heartbreaking to see this.

            So, what can you do about it?

            Join the Challenge –

            In my free Facebook group, we are doing a Plastic-Free Challenge.

            Consider alternatives to plastic –


            Choose Your Tactic

   has compiled this great resource – download it here – then review it and choose which ones that you can action.

            P.S. This is a great one to involve the kids with 😉

            Time for New Habits

            The end of the year is a time when we look to create new habits.

            We reflect back on the year that we have had.

            And decide what we would like to do differently.

            Do you do that?

            I do.

            I love this practice and tend to do it way more often.

            Here’s are 5 new habits that support health!

            New Habit 1: Turn Off the Tech

            Research shows that evening use of devices containing LED lights in their screens can have a large effect on our wellbeing.

            Research out of Israel by Green, et al., discovered that 2-hours of evening exposure to these screens resulted in:

            • Increased waking through the night,
            • Poorer quality sleep, and
            • Suppressed melatonin production.

            The effects were also seen the following day, with:

            • Increased sleepiness,
            • A decrease in the ability to concentrate, and
            • Reduced accuracy

            Sleep in incredibly important not only for your mood and ability to concentrate, but also for your health and ability to tolerate environmental stressors.

            So, when can you turn off the tech?

            Habit #2: Easy & Breezy

            Did you know that the air inside our homes can be 5-10 times more polluted than outdoors?

            This is due to all sorts of reasons, from what we bring into our homes, to what our homes are made of, how we cook and what our pots and pans are made of…

            And that is just for starters.

            When we add pesticides, cleaning products and scented reeds into the mix, we are really cooking up a storm!

            Then we’re there.

            Breathing, eating, using the bathroom…

            Sweating (or “perspiring” 😉 for those who don’t sweat), cooking, sleeping…

            Everything we bring into our homes can affect the quality of the indoor air.

            If our home is nicely energy efficient, it is very likely that it is well-sealed, keeping the indoor air in, and the outdoor air out.

            This can lead to a build-up of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, house dust mites, mould spores, combustion gases and more.

            To make matters worse, if you never exchange the air in your home…

            It never gets diluted.

            And –

            That is how the indoor air can be so much worse than the outdoor air.

            Where in your day can you open your windows and doors?


            Habit #3: Healing Naturally

            I always see nature as our baseline…

            The ideal to which we strive…

            The harmony and balance of nature is so supportive and healing.

            The Japanese embrace this through their practise of Shinrin Yoku – or “forest bathing.”

            The idea is that you wander out into nature, ideally under a canopy of trees, and sit or lay there for at least an hour.

            I see so many benefits of this…

            1. You get to breathe fresh natural air, instead of indoor air
            2. Being in nature in this way can allow you to discharge accumulated EMF – it is a form of grounding
            3. I suspect that the air you breathe is full of natural antimicrobials – let’s face it, trees survive in a forest because of their natural antimicrobials
            4. If you do this free from devices, it can be deeply relaxing, which can be incredibly healing
            5. It can help us to reconnect with nature – which traditionally we have always been well aware of

            I have seen research some years ago now, that found that the benefits of one-hour of forest bathing last for 7 days.

            So even if you live in the city, you should be able to carve out an hour a week to do this.

            Where can you create some time to be in nature?

            Habit #4: Be a Labels Sleuth

            Whilst there is a lot to learn about reading labels, there is a lot you can learn by doing this.

            If you took a moment to review the labels of products as you pick them off the shelf, you might be surprised at what you see.

            If I could encourage you to eliminate one ingredient…

            It would be fragrance (also listed as perfume or parfum).

            By cutting out fragrances, you could reduce your daily chemical exposure dramatically because…

            Fragrances require so many chemicals to make them!

            There are loads of other ingredients you can omit, too…

            But fragrances are the best place to start.

            Also, some products don’t necessarily have an ingredients list…

            So, this is where you can put your nose to use and have a sniff of it.

            Tip: toilet paper and sanitary products are often fragranced…

            Instead, you may choose to focus on an ingredient in food.

            Which ingredient are you going to target?

            eco-health-solutions natural

            Habit #5: Need or Want?

            When you are about to make a purchase, stop and think:

            Do I actually need it?

            If not, then consider why you want it.

            The goal here is not to accumulate too much “stuff.”

            Accumulating can lead to issues in terms of safety (trip-hazards), pests, dust (and house dust mites) and may even become a hygiene issue if cleaning becomes difficult.

            We created a rule many years ago that you might like to adapt or adopt…

            For every item that we buy, we need to pass on three to charity.

            When I do this, I tend to really get into it, and often can fill a large garbage bag with goodies that would benefit from a new home.

            It is surprisingly liberating to pass things on to charity…

            What can you put in place, so you remember to ask, “Do I really need it?” when making a purchase?

            5 New Habits

            There you go – there are five new habits to propel you towards a home or workplace that supports your health.

            Let me know how you go with them!


            Would You Like More Help? Book a Hidden Hazards Hotline Call here >>



            A. Green, M. Cohen-Zion, A. Haim & Y. Dagan (2017): Evening light exposure to computer screens disrupts human sleep, biological rhythms, and attention abilities, Chronobiology International, DOI: 10.1080/07420528.2017.1324878

            Reading Labels 101

            Reading Labels

            In this post, we are going to explore reading labels.

            Why?, I hear you ask.

            Because although I believe we have the right to trust that anything that is available to us has been tested and determined to be safe, the reality is that for many reasons, this is not always the case.

            The personal care industry is self-regulated, cleaning products don’t require labelling, medicines list “active ingredients” and excipients (but that may not be everything), and foods are required to list all ingredients, but inadvertent ones are missing (eg phthalates leached from plastic packaging). Trade secrecy also allows manufacturers to not have to list the ingredients in a fragrance – and this can be up to hundreds of ingredients!

            My goal here is to provide you with some skills in interpreting the information so that you can make an informed choice.

            Reading Labels – Food

            reading labels

            The reading labels journey starts with this packet of rice milk.

            Please note: I am not denigrating a brand, just using this as an example.

            Here are some things I wanted to point out  – 

            1. The Lactose & Gluten-Free claim – TRUE – but not necessary

            Lactose is a sugar found in dairy milk – so “naturally” free from it makes sense.

            Gluten is not normally in rice-based products, unless there is a cross-contamination issue.
            (An easy way to remember gluten-containing food, thanks to Coeliac Australia, is BROW – barley, rye, oats and wheat.)

            2. “Made form at least 83% Australian Ingredients”

            #mustknow label reading: ingredients are always listed in descending order. This means that the first on the list is present in the highest amount, and the last on the list is present in the smallest amount.

            So, when the second ingredient is sitting at 15%, you know there is quite a bit of water; and that there is equal to or less than 15% of the oil, calcium and salt. I am hazarding a guess here, but that 83% Australian ingredients may in fact be WATER, or at least a large amount of the Australian ingredients is water!


            Reading Labels – Personal Care Products

            reading labels

            The #mustknow reading labels rule for food also applies to #personalcare products. In fact it applies to everything.

            Expanding this understanding, we will break any ingredients list into thirds.

            The first third make up 90-95% of the total ingredients, the second third 5-8% and the final third make up a teensy 1-3% of the total.

            This image is of a poster I often use when teaching people this very concept.

            This is how some products have 95% certified organic ingredients, but still contain chemicals. Many of the chemicals added (especially fragrances, preservatives, etc) only need to be present in minute quantities.

            Once you have your list, either get the Chemical Maze App.

            This is one of my favourite resources as it is great for additives in food AND ingredients in personal care and cleaning products, and #bonus was developed by fellow Australian Bill Statham (SOOOO nice to have a locally created mega-useful resource!).

            Another great alternative is the Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep database where you can check out each ingredient.

            reading labels

            Reading Labels – Cleaning Products


            Most cleaning products don’t have an ingredients list because they are not required to.

            So how do you find out what it is made from?

            You need to get your hands on a MSDS or SDS – a Material Safety Data Sheet or a Safety Data Sheet.

            Simply do an internet search for the brand, product and MSDS, or contact the manufacturer and ask for one.

            Once you have the list, you go off to your Chemical Maze App (this is good for food, personal care and cleaning products) and search away.

            There is a lot to reading labels – but this should get you started.

            If you would like to chat about it, please join our social media groups and join in the conversation.


            #readinglabels #food #personalcare #cleaning