When most people hear the term “air pollution”, they think of industrial emissions, big cities, smog, and car exhaust. Typically the air we breathe inside our homes doesn’t come to mind, but it should. According to the EPA, the air we breathe indoors is often up to five times as polluted as outside, and Americans, on average, can spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. But, don’t fret. There are many simple and inexpensive ways you can improve your indoor air quality, starting now.
Clean House Regularly
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but most of us are so busy it can be difficult to muster the energy to really clean on a regular basis. Naturally occurring pollutants in the home generally come in the form of pet dander, dust and mites, and spores. They cause a variety of symptoms from headaches to respiratory infection, and settle and collect on shelves, around clutter, on the floor, and on heavy fabrics including carpet. Minimizing clutter, cleaning often, and using supplies like microfiber cloths instead of feather dusters can reduce the number of particles you breathe in daily.
Get Rid Of Those Toxic Cleaners
When it comes to housecleaning, the cleaners you use on a regular basis could be contributing to your indoor pollution more than reducing it. Your average household cleaners contain and release toxins, either in the listed ingredients or the form of unspecified “fragrance”, all of which can have devastating short and long term effects on your health. Respiratory irritation, neurological issues, and reproductive and endocrine disruption are only a few of the consequences suffered from exposure to these toxins. Switching to natural and plant-based cleaners or, if you’re particularly ambitious, making your own, significantly reduces indoor chemical pollution.
Bring The Outdoors Inside
Image via Flickr by Andrea Jones
Air purifiers are excellent weapons in the fight against indoor pollutants. Equipped with HEPA filters, they capture and collect pollutants and particles circulating through the air and push clean air back out into your living space. It’s a well-known theory that houseplants can act as nature’s air purifiers, helping to rid the air of carbon dioxide.
But houseplants’ air purifying superpowers don’t end there. Studies conducted by NASA, even decades ago, demonstrated the ability of certain plants to clean the air of some pretty major VOC (volatile organic compounds) like benzene, trichlorethylene, formaldehyde, and toluene. They’ll also add a little Zen to your home.
Change Your Filters
If your home has central air, you’re in luck. Running your AC, even if for just a few minutes on a regular basis, serves as a full home air purification system. Of course, this is only true if your HVAC system is maintained consistently. If neglected, it could actually add to the pollutants in the air instead of removing them. Fortunately, one of the most important elements of HVAC maintenance, changing your filters, can be DIY and won’t break the bank. The general consensus regarding how often you should change your filters is approx every thirty days.
Air quality at home is definitely something not to be taken for granted and, thankfully, you can take steps to improve it.