We talk a lot about pollution around here, but what about the environment inside your home? Most of us spend a good bit of each day indoors, and your house's indoor air quality can be just as damaging to your health as outdoor air pollution.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
According to EPA, indoor air pollution can harm your health immediately, or there can be a delay in the effects of poor indoor air quality. For example, if you introduce something toxic, like paint or furniture sealer, to your indoor environment, you might get a sore throat or itchy eyes immediately. Indoor air pollution can even cause problems like asthma.
Delayed effects can take time to show up, and they're often associated with long-term exposure to poor quality air. These problems can range form respiratory disease to cancer or even death. So, how can you improve your home's indoor air quality for better health?
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are two ways to battle poor air quality in your house: by choosing non-toxic materials and by actively cleaning the air. Products like paints, plastics, even furniture and fabrics produce fumes that can harm your health. Whenever possible, you want to choose products that are healthy for your home. If you think your indoor air quality is already pretty bad, there are some proactive things you can do to help improve it.
1. Choose zero VOC paints and low-voc primers and sealers.
2. When shopping for furniture, avoid pressboard as much as you can. Pressboard contains formaldehyde, which can off-gas into your home.
3. Avoid flame retardant fabrics, since these also off gas harmful chemicals into the air.
4. Ditch the plastic, especially PVC. Yap, more off gassing! PVC turns up in the most unlikely places. Last year, I learned that our artificial tree (we got it second hand) was made from PVC.
5. Dust and clean. I know, deep cleaning is a pain, but taking some time to dust and wipe down surfaces can prevent mold, which is linked to asthma.
6. Choose plants. Certain plants can help improve your indoor air quality.
7. Air it out. It may sound simple, but airing out your house periodically can help a lot. Open those windows, turn up those fans, and get that stale air outta there!
8. Clean your ducts. If you have central air conditioning, get your ducts cleaned once a year. Not only will your system run more efficiently, but cleanings help prevent mold from growing in your HVAC system.
9. Ditch the fragrance. Scented products like air freshener, Febreeze, and even dryer sheets use toxic chemicals to make those artificial smells. Go for essential oils and fresh herbs instead.
What do you do to improve your home's indoor air quality? Let's share more tips in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Jay_Dee_92