Steve was the former inhabitant of our house. He was quite a character, always seemed alternately stoned or amped up on something. Every time we walked into the house he and his girlfriend (another story) were burning tons of incense. They also had potent home fragrance thingies plugged in to electrical outlets all over the place. So we thought they were trying to cover up the fact that they were smoking pot (not like we really would have cared).
Our first order of business upon moving in was to clean and air out the house, getting rid of the 'essence of Steve.' We hired cleaners, which was the best $200 I've ever spent. We threw out the air fresheners, opened the windows, but the smell still lingered. "Steve" represented all that was stinky and sketchy and contaminated.
Then I got a nasty sinus infection, and soon our whole family was coughing and hacking and stuffy. We wondered if our sickness had to do with the mysterious house smell. So I called Michelle, who runs EcoRemedi here in Portland. Cool woman - among other things, she produces 'healthy home' TV shows.
We wanted Michelle to test our indoor air quality, and she came over with a nifty device that records all kinds of data-- allergens, VOC's (volatile organic compounds), chemicals, mold, etc -- over the course of several days. While we were at it, we also tested for radon.
The verdict -- we have high levels of radon, and need to do some ventilation in our basement to remedy that problem. So glad we tested, because radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
As for the air quality, which was our original concern...we're still waiting for the results. Hope to know today or tomorrow.
All of this -- moving into a new house, dealing with these issues, concerned about the health of our little babe -- has made me even more determined than I was before to create a pure environment in our home. I don't work in absolutes -- I can't say I'll completely banish plastic toys or processed food or disposable diapers or conventional cleaning products, etc, etc. But every choice I make takes me further away from those things, and closer to alternatives that are natural, healthier, and what I instinctively feel are better for our family.
Good riddance, Steve.