Myron Wentz, a microbiologist, recently wrote a book called The Healthy Home — — and offers some ways to create one at your house:

Take your shoes off before entering your home. We walk around unwittingly in car oil, pesticides, animal waste, and toxins.

Nonstick pots and pans release potentially hazardous fumes and particles into the air such as toxic gases, carcinogens, and global pollutants. Try using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet instead.

"Wrinkle-free" sheets can expose you to perfluorochemicals, linked to reproductive and development toxicity, as well as cancers of the bladder and liver. Try using natural alternatives like cotton or linen.

Fluorescent lightbulbs will make you feel drained. They contain a toxic gas known as mercury vapor. Instead try purchasing regular incandescent lightbulbs.

Electrical appliances create electromagnetic fields that are similar to those found under power lines that were linked to cancer clusters. Make sure you unplug your appliances when they are not being used.

Question: We have a top-brand dishwasher in good working condition. The problem is the bottom rack. The white plastic covering is coming off, and rust is coming through to the dishes. My dishes now have a rust color on the rims.

I called the company and they will sell me a new rack for more than $200. I really don't want to have to purchase a rack for that amount.

Do you know how we can cover the plastic so that the rust will not come through?

Answer: That's a new one to me. Readers, are you eager to help the writer with a solution?

Q: I've noticed recently the floor around the toilet in my powder room has gotten very squeaky when you walk on it.

The floor has its original tiles from 50-plus years ago. I don't see any visible leaks around the base of the toilet or on the ceiling of the basement below — at least from the area that's accessible to me.

Any suggestions on why this could be happening or what it could be?

A: You may have ruled out a leak around the toilet — but the area inaccessible to you would give me pause. It also might simply mean that the flooring has come away from the joists.

If that is all it is, just go on the Internet for the thousands of articles on how to fix a squeaky floor.

Cork flooring. It was a while ago, but I mentioned in a column that I was considering cork flooring, and I wanted to know what experience readers had with it.

A reader in Whitemarsh sent this along:

"I have cork flooring in my kitchen. My house does not have a basement, and the cork floor is warmer and also softer then a typical floor.

"I didn't consider it an expensive type of flooring, but it does have one thing to consider. It is prone to scratching. The installation has it as a floating floor. The sections are large pieces, and they are glued together.

"My cats have put many tiny nicks in the floor through their racing and stopping. I did put on a protective coating using water-based polyurethane, which is the suggested sealing by the manufacturer."

By the way, I went with resilient flooring. It was relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Since this was a basement room that I use as an office, I didn't see any reason to spend a lot of money on higher-end flooring.

Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.