When most of us hear the term pollution, we think of city streets and smog. We don’t typically think of the air inside our homes, but we should. Indoor pollution is generally significantly more concentrated than it is outside. The majority of Americans spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors, making this particularly troubling. Luckily, there are many things you can do to make sure the air you breathe at home is as clean as possible.
1. House Cleaning
Keeping your home clean to reduce indoor air pollution may sound like a no-brainer. Regular cleaning minimizes the existence of allergens such as dust, mites, pet dander, and harmful spores that can cause upper and lower respiratory distress in most healthy individuals. It may come as a surprise, however, that a large percentage of the cleaning products we’re using to rid our homes of these allergens are actually causing more harm than good. These products are made up of toxic chemicals, including VOCs, that cause headaches, eye and throat irritation, even neurological and endocrine disruption.
Replacing household cleaners with plant-based cleaners, or making your own with ingredients found in your kitchen, will significantly reduce your exposure to these chemical toxins and the resulting health problems. Whatever you use to clean up at home, make sure to open a window or two while you do it. Letting some fresh air in is the easiest and cheapest way to instantly improve your indoor air quality.
2. Filtration and Purification
The biggest issue with allergens is that they’re floating around in the air and, ultimately, settling into your carpet, curtains, furniture, and even your clothes. You sit on your furniture, and walk across your floors every day, sending it all back up into the air you’re breathing, on repeat. Investing in an air purifier with a true HEPA filter is an effective way to eliminate up to 99 percent of microscopic allergens in a room.
An air purifier essentially only helps with allergens in the room that it’s placed in, so multiple units (placed in the rooms most commonly occupied, such as bedrooms and living rooms) works best for optimal allergy relief. Your HVAC system, when it’s well-maintained, can serve as a giant air filtration unit, and, unbeknownst to most, there are numerous filters to choose from, each designed for specific allergens. A professional HVAC technician can help you decide which best suits your needs.
3. Get Back to Nature
Image via Flickr by Andrea Jones
We’ve heard a bit about plants, and their air purifying capabilities. That they remove carbon dioxide from the air, and replace it with oxygen, helping us breathe is pretty well-known. Beyond this, NASA studies have demonstrated the ability of certain houseplants to filter heavy metals, and VOCs out of the surrounding air. They’re essentially Mother Nature’s air purifiers. The process is called phytoremediation, and some pladnts do it more effectively than others. They can clean your air, reduce your stress, and make your home more relaxing.
Our indoor air quality isn’t something that should be taken for granted. Healthy air is essential for overall well-being, both physical and mental, and taking control of your air quality greatly reduces your risk for short and long term health issues.