Decrease Indoor Air Pollutants: It’s Easier Than You Think


Many consider air pollution an outdoor air problem; however, indoor air quality is also a concern. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that people spend at least 90 percent of their time indoors. There are links between poor indoor air quality and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, asthma and allergies. Concentrations of pollutants like carbon monoxide can cause death.In fact, indoor air quality is often so bad that unborn babies are affected. Studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group found 287 chemicals in umbilical cord blood, 217 of these are toxic to the nervous system and/or brain, 180 cause cancer and 208 cause abnormal development or birth defects. Follow the tips below to eliminate the pollutants in your home.

1. Create a Shoe Free Zone

Contaminants cover your shoes. These contaminates settle into your flooring. As you walk around your home these particles release into the air. Keep your shoes on a shelf in the garage or in a closed closet within the home.

2. No Dry Dusting

Dry dusting only adds to the pollutants in the air because you lift the particles and then breathe them in. You can avoid this scenario by using a damp microfiber cloth. You should dust your electronics and furniture weekly; your ceiling fans, baseboards, bookshelves and window treatments monthly.

3. Do Not Use Synthetic Scents/Cleaning Products

Scented products like cleaning supplies and air fresheners also contribute to indoor air quality. Try to find products that do not contain synthetic fragrances and/or toxic chemicals. You can create your own non-toxic cleaning supplies.

Non-Toxic All-Purpose Cleaner:

  • Mix ¼-cup baking soda with ½-cup of vinegar
  • Add it to ½-gallon of water

Use this cleaner to remove water stains on bathroom fixtures and shower stalls. Use it in a spray bottle to clean mirrors and windows.

4. Houseplants

Many houseplants work as air filters. Plants can absorb numerous toxins including formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.

You find these toxins in:

  • Oils
  • Inks
  • Paints
  • Rubber
  • Gasoline
  • Plastic
  • Varnishes
  • Lacquers
  • Adhesives

NASA recommends that homeowners use from 15 to 18 houseplants (six- to eight-inch containers). Be sure the plants you choose are not poisonous to children or pets.

NASA offers homeowners these suggestions:

  • Peace lilies
  • Spider plants
  • Snake plants (mother-in-law’s tongue)
  • Weeping figs
  • Elephant ears
  • Bamboo palms (reed palm)
  • Rubber plants

5. Check for Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that is invisible and has no odor. The only way to know whether you have radon in your home is to test for it. Just like a thief in the night, radon seeps into your home through cracks in the foundation or slab. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

If your test for Radon comes back positive, there are special sealing techniques that can correct this problem. Just as home security companies help secure your home from thieves, Radon Mitigation Contractors secure your home against radon. Contact your state’s radon officer and request a list of approved contractors in your area.

6. Dry Cleaning

If you get your dry cleaning done early enough, you can leave them at the dry cleaners to air out. Doing this lets them dry completely and releases most of the chemicals at the cleaners.

Dry cleaning options that are less toxic include liquid carbon dioxide cleaning and professional wet cleaning. Peter Sinsheimer, who is the director of the Pollution Prevention Center at Occidental College, states there is no toxicity issues related to either of these methods. Liquid carbon dioxide cleaning uses pressurized liquid CO2 to clean clothes. Wet cleaned clothes are gently cleaned using a computer controlled washer and dryer.

Connie Gerald, the author of this article, is a writer and photographer who specializes in home and garden topics.

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