Indoor Air Quality
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is often two times more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor air pollutants can contribute to asthma as well as other respiratory conditions and diseases.
Indoor pollutants include:
- VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from off-gassing building materials, paints and finishes, furnishings and synthetic carpet
- Other toxic chemicals emitted from cleaning products, pesticides, and hazardous household supplies
- Mold, which grows on moist materials and surfaces
- Carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide gases, which can be released from gas-fueled combustion appliances
- Particulates from wood-burning fireplaces or cars running near the house
- Tobacco smoke, asbestos, lead, and radon.
- Carpeting, especially when poorly maintained, can be one of the major sources of indoor air pollution.
- Although newly installed carpeting produces the most complaints from emissions of irritating chemicals, older carpets harbor dust, house-dust mites, microbes and particulate matter.
- Carpet, through normal wear and tear, begins to break down over time.
- Minute carpet fibers become airborne, especially during vacuuming, creating dust, which can act as a carrier for microbes.
- Most carpets and rugs are made of synthetic fibers bound to a backing material by glues and other agents.
- Choosing hardwood, cork or bamboo is an optimal choice for improving indoor air quality.
Home Cleaning Products
- The powerful chemicals in many conventional cleaning products can have a toxic effect on human skin and lungs.
- Most detergents are formulated from petrochemicals, and may contain bleaches, synthetic whiteners, and artificial fragrances, all of which can cause skin irritations and breathing problems.
- Non-toxic cleaning and washing products have natural cleaning properties that do just as good of a job, if not better, and they don’t release toxic chemicals into the air.
- Most paints and finishes release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – a major class of indoor pollutants – into the home.
- These paints and finishes may continue to “off gas” – emit toxic gases – for months or years, causing irritations and health problems.
- Paints free of VOC’s or that contain low VOC’s will not emit as many toxins and are much safer for you home and the environment
Bedding (Natural and Organic)
- Most mattresses are made from plastic foam products and polyesters, with a mix of flame-retardant chemicals added. The chemicals in bedding most often cited as potential sources of concern are pesticides, herbicides, fire retardants, stain-resistant solvents, and the various substances in synthetic fibers and formaldehyde. This combination may cause breathing, skin and asthmatic reactions.
- Choosing natural and / or organic bedding will ensure that harmful chemicals were not used in the manufacturing of the product.
- Quality air purifiers do especially well at filtering pollutant particles such as dust, tobacco smoke, and pollen.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other types of gaseous pollutants, however, are a questionable matter and should not be expected to remove all gaseous pollutants found in the typical home.
- Humidity levels above 50 percent can breed dust mites, mildew, and mold, which may worsen allergies and asthma.
- A dehumidifier can reduce the chance of such occurrences
- Dehumidifiers are ideal in the summer months and can work especially well for drying damp basements and crawl spaces
- A humidifier, ideal in winter months, can relieve itchy eyes, sore throat, and cracked skin by adding moisture to dried-out air.
- In addition to these health benefits, a humidifier can also reduce static electricity, peeling wallpaper, and cracks in paint and furniture
- Houseplants are capable of not only producing oxygen from CO2, but also absorbing benzene, formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene
- NASA did a study to find out which plants were best to filter the air of the space station, and the agency’s findings are available to all.
- List of plants that are specifically good at improving indoor air quality:
- English ivy (Hedera helix)
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Golden pothos or Devil’s ivy (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
- Bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
- Snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata‘Laurentii’)
- Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn. Philodendron cordatum)
- Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn.Philodendron selloum)
- Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
- Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
- Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans ‘Massangeana’)
- Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
- Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’)
- Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Gerbera daisy or Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
- Pot mum or florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
- Rubber plant (Ficus elastic)