Can This Home Be Greened? An Allergy-Sensitive Home in Pennsylvania

The Forestieri family greens their home for the safety of their family.

| March/April 2004

  • The Forestieri family greens their home for the safety of their family.
  • Can the Forestieri family green this home?

Peter Forestieri, now 5, was born with allergies to mold, dust, dogs, cats, and a variety of foods; his pediatricians diagnosed a dairy allergy when he was just 2 days old. When Peter turned 2, he began developing severe nasal congestion that not only affected his speech but also interrupted his sleep; specialists confirmed a series of allergies including mold. By the time Peter’s parents, Jeri and Frank, called us, they already had begun doing online research about how to “green” their home set in the midst of an agricultural and horse-breeding community in Pennsylvania.

Jeri, mother to Peter and 11-year-old Tess, had already discovered the virtues of natural, homemade cleaning agents and hadn’t used a commercial cleaning product or detergent for more than a year. But there was a lot left to do. Peter still had congestion and significantly swollen glands for which his ear, nose, and throat specialist had no explanation. We made some basic recommendations that would go a long way toward making the Forestieri’s home healthier in just weeks.

Remove cars (and other stuff) from the garage

The first thing we recommended was removing the family’s cars from the garage—part of which was directly adjacent to Peter’s bedroom. Attached garages are convenient, but storing cars in the garage can negatively affect indoor air quality. Garage vapors, which can include carbon monoxide, gasoline, and oil fumes, can enter the home through cracks in ductwork, garage ceilings, and walls and doors leading to the home. Car tires carry dust, dirt, and other contaminants (think “roadkill”) into the garage; these in turn may enter the home as airborne particulates or on the soles of shoes.

Jeri and Frank immediately took this recommendation to heart, and those cars haven’t seen the inside of the garage since last summer. (Had they been unable to give up the convenience of parking in the garage—as other clients have—we would have insisted that they let the car cool off outside first before parking it and allow the garage to air out before closing the door. Additionally, we would have advised installing an exhaust fan to vent fumes to the outside.)

We also suggested that the Forestieris store gasoline-powered tools, paints, solvents, and other potentially harmful chemicals in their outside storage shed.

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