We’re indoors more than ever and in buildings that are sealed tightly for ultimate climate control. So that stretch and deep breath that we take each morning may not be quite as good for us as we assume. Our homes can be 2-5 times more polluted than the outside air and this pollution is created from everyday products. A single exposure, or exposure over time, can present a range of symptoms from irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches; dizziness; and fatigue. As many know, indoor air at home or work can aggravate chronic asthma or migraines.
The good news? This is an area where we can create an easy and positive impact.
Indoor air pollution can build up in the home from dust, mold and mildew and the outgassing of more harmful substances such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are gases including formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene, and ammonia emitted from common household items such as air fresheners, cleaning products, dry cleaning chemicals, dryer sheets, upholstered furniture, carpets, and bedding.
Short of holding our breath, what can we do improve our homes?
- Open the windows, even just a crack, for a few moments a day. Brushing your teeth? Making a cup of tea? Sounds like a nice opportunity to crack the window.
- Keep mold and mildew in check. Run the fan in the shower and wash those workout clothes sitting in a sweaty heap on the laundry room floor sooner rather than later.
- Ditch synthetic air fresheners. Simmer organic cinnamon sticks or a handful of dried sage and thyme leaves on the stove instead of using plug-in or spray air-fresheners.
- Ditch synthetic dryer sheets. Toss in a wool dryer ball or two, or a rag with couple drops of lavender, orange, or sandalwood essential oil instead of a dryer sheet.
- Leave the furniture outside. At least for a moment. When making a new upholstery, carpet, furniture, or mattress purchase, allow it at least a day or two to off-gas in the garage before bringing it into the house.
- Nurture your green thumb. Certain houseplants remove toxins from the air, metabolizing them into harmless compounds. Try Boston Fern, English Ivy, Spider Plant, Dracaena, Ficus, Peace Lily, Snake plant, or Aloe Vera.
- Let your fans help. Use the fan hood above your gas stove to dissipate the gas buildup and get your gas stove jets serviced yearly.