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Reducing Asthma & Allergy Symptoms in Each Room of Your Home

From the Show: HER
Summary: Making a few simple changes in each room of your house can dramatically reduce symptoms of asthma and allergies.
Air Date: 5/14/15
Duration: 10
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD
Guest Bio: Robin Wilson, Author & Eco-Friendly Interior Designer
Robin WilsonRobin Wilson is an eco-friendly interior designer, author and entrepreneur with hypoallergenic products sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and other retailers.

She is author of two books: Clean Design (Greenleaf, 2015) and IPPY award-winning Kennedy Green House (Greenleaf, 2010). She is the first woman with a branded line of custom kitchen and bath cabinetry sold by over 400 independent Holiday Kitchens dealers nationwide. She was first featured in Oprah's magazines and her work and brand has been featured in national press such as House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Esquire, Essence, and Natural Homes & Gardens, among others.

Her design firm continues to handle select projects across the country and is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). She is an ambassador to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, on the board of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, and has partnered with consumer products giant Panasonic to promote their latest line of cutting edge products for the home.

In May 2013, her furniture line, Nest Home by Robin Wilson, premiered at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York. She regularly appears on the speakers circuit, on television and print with commentary on design, wellness, sustainability and allergy & asthma issues.
  • Book Title: Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle
Reducing Asthma & Allergy Symptoms in Each Room of Your Home
You might have heard on the news that the allergy experts are warning you of a "pollen tsunami" this spring and early summer.

Allergies are hitting hard this year because of the harsh, extensive winter.

And, because of climate change, allergy season will start early and last longer in the coming years.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, there is an estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies.

What are some ways you can reduce allergy and asthma symptoms in your home?

Making a few simple changes in each room of your house can dramatically reduce symptoms of asthma and allergies. For example:

  • Bedroom: Make sure you follow the "rule of threes" with pillows. Wash zippered pillow covers every three weeks, wash pillows every three months, and replace your pillow every three years.
  • Bathrooms: Replace your vinyl liner with a nylon shower curtain liner. Although wallpaper is a trend in bathrooms, it's a big no-no as moisture can become trapped behind the wallpaper.
  • Kitchen: Choose eco-friendly cabinetry made from low-VOC paints, stains and adhesives. Install a strong exhaust fan that will vent smoke and other substances outdoors.
  • The garage: Don't store potentially toxic cleaning supplies, paints, hazardous materials and pesticides, even if they are tightly sealed.
  • The basement: Since many basements tend to be damp, mold and mildew can be a big concern for asthma and allergy sufferers.
  • Outdoors: Keep grass cut low to a maximum of two inches high. Keep the windows in the house closed while mowing and for a few hours afterwards.
  • Furniture: Look for brands that use toxin-free finishes. Choose furniture that can be cleaned easily to remove dust and dirt.

Listen in as eco-friendly interior designer, author and entrepreneur, Robin Wilson, shares tips on how to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms in your home.

Transcription:

RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: May 14, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson & Pam Peeke, MD

Dr. Pam Peeke, New York Times best-selling author and founder of the Peeke Performance Center, and Michelle King Robson, leading woman's advocate, entrepreneur, and founder of EmpowHer.com host the show everyone is talking about. It's time for HerRadio.

PAM: Hi. I'm Dr. Pam Peeke. Michelle is off today. Have you ever heard of an ecofriendly interior designer? Well, neither did I, until I came across this book, Clean Design: Wellness For Your Lifestyle. This was written by Robin Wilson who is an ecofriendly interior designer. She is going to help us understand how to be able to clean up every single room of your home reducing asthma and allergy symptoms. I just think this is so unique. I've never really read any book like this.

Robin, welcome to HerRadio. What a great book you wrote. I love it.

ROBIN: Thank you. Thank you. Well, you know, I suffer from allergies and asthma, so I had to do something.

PAM: Obviously, you are inspired by your own passion because of what happened to you. We have all these listeners in HerRadio land thinking, "Wow, what am I supposed to do with all of these things in each room in my house?" Oh, gosh. Where do you even begin? Help us with that.

ROBIN: I tell people in this book that the first thing and the free thing that you can do is when you walk into your home every night, take your shoes off. Don't track in the pesticides and the E-coli that you may have picked up on the sidewalk into your home. From there, I remind people that you spend one-third of your life sleeping, so try to find a way to make your bedroom a sanctuary. That means one simple question. When was the last time that you washed or changed your pillow?

A lot of people say six years or even longer. We say, you have got to get a fresh pillow in there, some linen and clean as though you're moving out. Which means getting under the bed and the dresser and in the closet. Really getting all of the dust out of your space.

PAM: Oh, I think that is such a fabulous idea.

ROBIN: A lot of it's common sense, but also very important in your home is your ecosystem. We can talk about the global world all day, but your home is your ecosystem. It's where you send a great chunk of your time.

This book, Clean Design, actually gives people guidance for every room of their home. It guides you from the nursery--if you have a baby--to if you are elderly or about to be elderly and talking about things like curtainless showers. Within the bathroom, what are you doing about mold prevention?

Or, are you making your bathroom a chemical stew when you clean it? For example, you use a toilet bowl cleaner, you use a mirror cleaner, you use a bath cleaner, you use a floor cleaner, then you use some sort of fragrance in your bathroom. You are creating a toxic stew. It is giving you some tips so you aren't having to do that while still keeping your space clean. One other thing I will say as an asthma and allergy sufferer, the key to clean design is eliminating and managing triggers. As well all know, if you have allergies or asthma, you don't want to trigger an attack from a perfume or smoke or dust. This gives you some good reference. I'll give you a couple quick, funny things.

PAM: Go for it.

ROBIN: One of the funny things that people don't realize is that they will use toxic cleaners. For example, if you have children, to clean crayon off the walls, things like that, but did you know toothpaste will actually clean crayon marks off the wall?

PAM: It will not! There's no way!

ROBIN: Yes, it will. Page 159. This is a tip from my grandmother. It also whitens your tile grout. And it cleans the grease catchers on your stove. So, instead of soaking it in some toxic chemical, that then if you have asthma or allergies, now you're breathing that in. You can keep it a little healthier.

PAM: I love it. The same thing with vinegar, too. You can use vinegar for a lot of cleaning. Baking soda. Can we just go to one of the "ewww" places in the house oft times? I think about this when I'm in a hotel, too. The shower curtain.

ROBIN: I know. Isn't that awful? We all don't want to think about our shower curtain, especially when it gets that little black ring around the bottom. But I tell people, that's when it needs to come out. That's when you probably have a bit of mold somewhere in your space. One recommendation is to get rid of your vinyl shower curtain, get a nylon shower curtain. Think of nylon like your pantyhose. You can wash it, number one. Number two, it's what hospitals and many hotels use...

PAM: That's correct.

ROBIN: ...because it does not attract mold as quickly. Another thing, I don't know if you've heard about phthalates, which is the chemical used to keep it pliable. Well, guess what? That can actually affect the endocrine system. For many people, they don't realize they are having trouble getting pregnant, but they have a vinyl shower curtain. Get rid of it and you're going to see a difference within three or six months.

PAM: Ladies, did you hear that out there in HerRadio land? Good grief, it's your shower curtain and fertility. I've never made that connection before.

ROBIN: It could be.

PAM: Oh, my gosh.

ROBIN: I will tell you, I have a two and a half year old now. I'm one of those people. So, anyway, fast forward to today.

PAM: Now, what about pets? See, now we've got man's best friend in there somewhere or some little meow-meow. Talk to us about the pet thing.

ROBIN: I say that if your pet is an indoor pet, keep it an indoor pet. If it is an outdoor pet, then you need to find a dry shampoo and keep your pet off of your pillows and your sleeping area. If that's not possible because they love your bed, then make sure you are cleaning your bed linens a little more frequently than others. I also say look at what is in their paws because all too often you will find an animal has picked up something at the park and you don't want that on your bed.

PAM: My dog is a German shepherd. He usually picks up another small dog. No just kidding.

ROBIN: Exactly. Exactly. Going to eliminating and managing triggers, this book is not just something you're going to read cover to cover. If you want to, that's great.

But this is something like The Joy of Cooking. You're going to reference this for a long time. We've done it by room. We've done it by reason. We've also done it to guide you to simple cleaning principles. One thing a lot of people don't think about is how allergy connections to, let's say, ragweed and food. So, if you are allergic to ragweed, you could also be allergic to certain fruits or vegetables.

If you check out page 102 in the book, it is going to give you a table that articulates that you can say, "I'm going to come inside. I have a ragweed allergy," and then you pop a banana or some cantaloupe and it is the same protein structure. So, you can end of wheezing and sneezing inside.

PAM: That's because, as a physician, I know that there is this very important cross-linking between nature—natural plants, etc.--and the human body and its receptors. Especially the hormone receptors. Talk to us about the kitchen. I have a question for you. I see so often people who take a towel--like a cloth towel--and they use that to dry off things back and forth. Then, they take that towel and they put it on top all of the dried things in the dish strainer right next to the sink. The real question is should people be using paper towels? Should they be using these cloth towels and if they use cloth towels how long are they good for?

ROBIN: I try to stay away from wasting paper towels. I say that deliberately because all too often you are throwing thousands away. But, if you are not regularly washing your laundry--I mean every single night--then you need to use paper towels. Also, you need to think about the sponge. Are you using the sponge to clean up, let's say chicken—salmonella--and then using it to clean your dishes?

PAM: Gotcha.

ROBIN: So, you should have a cooking and a cleaning sponge.

PAM: Exactly. So, really, at the end of the day if you are using a cloth towel, you need to be washing it every single day, otherwise it's a paper towel.

Everyone, I want to make sure you know we have been talking to Robin Wilson, author and ecofriendly interior designer. Her book is Clean Design: Wellness For Your Lifestyle. Her website is www.robinwilsonhome.com. Thank you Robin, for being on HerRadio. I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle King Robson.

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