Book Review
Title: "The Healthy Home: Simple Truths to Protect Your Family from Hidden Household Dangers"
Authors: Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz
Publisher: Vanguard Press, 2011; 304 pages; $21.99

For us human animals, our homes are our habitats. And since we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that toxins and hazards in our environment can be just as impactful on our health as the things we actually eat and drink, it behooves us to attend to the healthfulness of our daily living environments.

Americans spend billions every year on home decor and remodeling to optimize how our homes look, feel and function. Now, well-known microbiologist Dr. Myron Wentz and his son, nutritional entrepreneur Dave Wentz, propose that we spend at least some of our time, money and energy optimizing our homes for healthfulness in their new book, "The Healthy Home: Simple Truths to Protect Your Family From Hidden Household Dangers."

The younger Wentz starts the book out by rattling off his own list of little-known home-based health horrors, and the advisory adages he’s coined to help people avoid harm from them, ranging from "your microwave isn’t a television, so by all means don’t watch your popcorn pop," to "indoor air pollution is the asbestos of tomorrow," to my own personal favorite, "let your senses be your guide … (i)n this toxic world, the nose knows."

This is characteristic of the book’s tone, in that the elder Wentz’s deep dives into the cellular science of home hazards is frequently boiled down by his son into simple principles, rules and pithy rules of thumb readers can use to make home-health tweaks without demolishing the place.

In fact, "The Healthy Home" often sounds like a list of your grandmother’s loving set of rules about how to live a healthy life — if your granny were a scientist and very knowledgeable about cellular biology.

Organizationally speaking, "The Healthy Home" reads like a textual home tour, exploring the various areas and rooms of a home from the perspective of its health hazards and the authors’ proposed solutions thereto.

The elder Wentz’s motto, or at least one of them, is that "we live too short and die too long," a situation he and his son suggest we can remedy by implementing even a few of the home-health tweaks they recommend.

Starting out in the bedroom, due to the critical nature of getting the right amount of high-quality sleep, the Wentzes cover everything from the composition of your mattress and bedding to the frequency with which you wear chemically cleaned clothing.

As he does throughout the book, the elder Wentz emphasizes the troubling nature of the chemicals commonly used to scent and "clean" things and advises that we retrain our noses to understand the true absence of scent that represents a true state of chemically free clean.

The Wentzes offer guidance on creating a healthful bedroom on a number of levels, from minimizing sleep-disrupting light to keeping chemical cleaners off your skin.

The father-son duo then moves to the bathroom, where they advise tossing out mouthwashes and chemically laden body-care products, making us aware along the way of the danger of cumulatively taking in five or six times the safe amount of substances when we use multiple products in our grooming routines.

They also ring a number of alarm bells about everything from mercury fillings to old prescription medicines to antiperspirants — and offer a set of simple solutions to address each and every cause for alarm.

As with all the chapters, the Wentzes offer four- to five-question quizzes throughout to help readers assess their own bathroom’s danger levels, and offer sidebar advisories with super-simple solutions to the problem being discussed, as well as a solution-scoring checklist at the end of the chapter.

The Wentzes then move to living areas and rooms, hitting everything from where you locate your Wi-Fi router, to cellphone dangers, handling broken lightbulbs and nontoxic cleaning, before covering garages and outdoor areas, like your yard (who knew wheat bran could kill garden pests?).

Each of the Wentzes offers his own epilogue to "The Healthy Home," and true to form, Dave’s reads like a summary of all the simple solutions he’s provided throughout the book — some will find it alarmist, while those interested in holistic health will find it comprehensive and useful.

In fact, the same can be said for "The Healthy Home," overall — many will think it to be overly cautious, but those who are really assertive about their health and interested in alternative, holistic viewpoints will see it as an eye-opening resource.

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