Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
The air quality in your home might be surprisingly poor and unhealthy. Photo Credit: greg westfall
Apparently, Tarzan and George of the Jungle are mental giants compared to the rest of us. The EPA has declared that air quality in most homes is much more hazardous than the air al fresco. If this is true, shouldn’t we all be commuting to work by vine?
Fortunately, we know how to remedy the problem. Several factors contribute to the decline of indoor air quality in homes, and surprisingly, it’s often brand new homes that are the most toxic. This is because many building materials and household furnishings are made from synthetic materials or contain adhesives and other chemicals that cause out-gassing. These items can continue to outgas harmful chemicals for up to several years.
Some of the worst culprits of out-gassing are household items that contain formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like adhesives, stains, sealants, foam and fabrics. These furnishings are typically bookshelves and other wooden furniture, cabinets, carpeting, mattresses, cushions, paints, flooring and draperies. Amazingly, these hazardous items can overtake up to 60 percent of your home’s air! That’s 6-0 PERCENT - more than half.
In addition to these vicious villains, poor housekeeping and ventilation can also contribute to indoor air pollution. Add it all together, and you run the risk of cooking up serious health problems ranging from headaches and nausea to respiratory illnesses and extreme allergic reactions.
Before hanging the hazmat sign out front and moving into the oak tree out back, there are a number of things you can do to make your air more breathable.
- Whenever the temperature isn’t too extreme, turn off the heat or A/C and open up the windows. To help it circulate even more, turn on the ceiling fans.
- Put one or more air purifiers in the house and be sure to change their filters often.
- Apply two coats of no-VOC sealant on top of any exposed stain, wood, particleboard, plywood or veneer. This will keep toxins from leaking out.
- Replace foam cushions with organic substitutes. The same goes for linens, towels, draperies, etc. that contain VOCs.
- Use your green thumb - having more plants in your home will help clean your air. Experts have actually determined several specific plant varieties that can help combat certain toxins - chrysanthemums top the list!
- Don’t hate me, but cleaning more often will help, too - tasks like dusting, cleaning the floors & rugs, and scrubbing can make a big difference. Dry your bathroom walls and floor to keep mold and mildew from becoming a problem. And keep the window open!Get in the habit of taking off your shoes at the front door to keep the dirt and bacteria you’ve been walking on all day from making its way into your fresh and clean domain.
- Quit smoking! (If you can’t quit, at least smoke outside where it will dissipate rather than trap benzene in your home.
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