How To Improve Your Air Health Quality
There’s a common belief that the air outside your front door is much worse to breathe than the air inside your home. But, as studies show, the air inside your home may also come with health implications. How did your indoor air get dirtier than your laundry? Think of fumes off-gassed by furniture, paint and building materials, chemicals from household cleaning products and fragrances, combustion devises, dust, bacteria and mold. These are all common culprits of poor home air quality.
When you consider that we spend most of our time indoors, this is a big problem. But it can be especially debilitating for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. Here are some simple solutions to improve your home air quality—many of which are quick, easy and affordable.
Air It Out: Open a window to air out harmful chemicals and let cleaner, healthier air in! Even if it’s for a few minutes a day, it’s one of the simplest (and most affordable) things you can do to improve your home air quality. You can also turn on a ceiling or portable fan while windows are open to re-circulate household air and push out stale air.
Use Non-Toxic Household Cleaning Products: Traditional household cleaning products are one of the leading contributors to poor home air quality. Your home is not a science experiment. Rather than spend money on household cleaning products, look no further than your pantry for ingredients that possess natural cleaning prowess. Ingredients such as baking soda, white distilled vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, tea tree oil, hot water, coarse salt, and castile soap all do a bang-up job without spewing harmful chemicals in your home.
If you prefer something in a bottle, don’t just trust what they tell you on the label. Do some research before you buy. Look for products that tap into plant-based ingredients for cleaning power without artificial dyes and/or fragrances to better your home air quality. And remember, traditionally, the fewer ingredients on the label, the better.
Invest in Healthy Houseplants: Believe it or not, there are some plants that act as renegade air filters by sucking up harmful chemicals that rest in your air and pumping out fresh oxygen. Not just any plant will do. A study conducted in part by NASA found that a handful of plants are particularly skilled at eating up some of the more harmful chemicals: formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide to name a few. Here are a few of the top plants that proved to be most effective at removing harmful chemicals:
Bamboo Palm – Dypsis lutescens
English Ivy – Hedera helix
Gerbera Daisy – Gerbera jamesonii
Janet Craig Dracaena – Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’
Red Edged Dracaena – Dracaena marginata
Skip The Scent: We are all guilty of associating fresh, aromatic scents with a clean home, but synthetic fragrance found in air fresheners, household cleaning products, detergents and candles infuses your air with harmful chemicals. Since the actual components of a fragrance are considered a “trade secret,” companies are only required to list the catch-all term “fragrance” on the label—but they are not required to disclose what they actually are. In this case, the devil is in the details.
A study conducted by Washington University found that nearly 100 volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) were emitted from six popular air fresheners. Of the 100 VOCs emitted, none were listed on the label and five of them released at least one (or more!) cancer-causing chemicals. Many fragrances have not been tested for human safety, and a group of plasticizers known as phthalates are commonly used to make the scent last longer. Phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, cancer, and reproductive and developmental issues.
To protect your home air quality, look for household cleaning products, detergents and aerosol sprays that are fragrance-free or scented with 100 percent natural ingredients. You can also use essential oils, lemons, or baking soda to freshen up your home.
Be Picky About Paint: Are you familiar with that funny odor that fills the room after you have freshly painted the walls? It makes you dizzy for a reason. Conventional paints can emit toxic fumes into your home over its life cycle. Look for safer paints that are labeled “Zero VOC or “Low-VOC.” The most ideal option is “Zero VOC, no toxics and no solvents,” which states that the canister of wall color does not contain any of the harmful chemicals found in traditional paints.
Invest In A HEPA Filter Vacuum: Carpets and floors can harbor chemicals and commons allergens, which accumulate in household dust. Vacuuming a few times a week is key, but cheap vacuums can just make matters worse. The problem with cheap vacuums is that they suction chemicals in, and then spew them back out in the exhaust to exacerbate poor home air quality. Purchase a vacuum with a true HEPA filter, which is capable of suctioning up dust, dirt and even the smallest irritants.