Growing up in the 80’s I heard a lot about air pollution. I was well versed on smog, factory smoke, and car emissions. New laws were enforced, factories had new standards to meet, car makers worked to reduce emissions, we even changed our hairspray cans. There’s was a lot of hoopla and it made a difference. I’m pleased to know we’ve made significant strides on cleaning up our air quality in the past few decades.
Yet something no one ever talked about, and I recently learned is a really big deal, is our indoor air quality. According to the Environmental Working Group, we’ve cleaned up our act so well that these days, the air quality inside our homes can often be much worse than the air outside. Everything from the cleaning supplies you’re using to the dust that gets inside your home to that plug-in air freshener you’re so in love with contribute to an increased toxic load in your home.
While I’m sure you’re doing the usual housekeeping such as changing central air and heating filters regularly, dusting and vacuuming, there are some simple changes you can put into practice to drastically increase the quality of the air in your home.
Typical household cleaners contain significant amounts of toxic chemicals. You’re covering your floors with them, inhaling them as your spray, and leaving toxic residue all over the countertops where you prepare your food. By switching to a plant-based cleaner you are not only being friendly to the planet you are making your home safer for everyone in it.
Ditch Toxic Air Fresheners
That plug-in air freshener you love so much is likely made with anthropogenic VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Exposure to these compounds over long periods of time has devastating health effects. Switch instead to an essential oil based air freshener or a diffuser to achieve the lovely scent you’re used to without harming your health.
Avoid Flame Retardants
Furniture, carpet, and even mattresses are often treated with flame retardants meant to increase safety. Sadly, instead of keeping you safe, they emit toxic fumes and VOCs that irritate your respiratory tract, damage your health long term, and actually increase toxicity for fire fighters were you to be victim to a home fire. While many states have enacted laws against fire retardants you should still check the furniture and household items you buy for your own safety.
Open the Windows
It sounds so basic and simple, but airing out your house on a regular basis make a remarkable difference in the air quality within your home. It’s especially important on days when you are dusting, vacuuming, or moving furniture around. Keeping and air purifier in your home can also help to filter the air but depending on how large your house is, you may need many filters to accommodate the size and structure. Never underestimate the power of an open window and fresh air.