Keep Your Home Pollution Free
When it comes to your home, you want things clean, healthy and safe for your family. Who doesn’t, right?
But you might be surprised to learn that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American home is hundreds of times more polluted inside than the air is outside.
Why is this the case? Well, one common reason is because most people don’t open their windows enough. They don’t want to let in the “dirty air” from outside. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Homes need to breathe and have fresh, circulating air. Otherwise, dust and pollutants build up and stay trapped inside.
Women and children are especially vulnerable to harmful indoor air pollution, since they’re the ones who spend the most time inside the home.
So, what causes all this pollution in our homes? Well, there are several things.
- Cleaning products
- Pressed wood furniture and cabinets
- Tobacco products
- Burning coal, kerosene, wood, or oil
- Insulation containing asbestos
- Harsh products used for hobbies
- Many personal care products (like hair spray and deodorants)
- Air fresheners
- Paint and other solvents
Harmful Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
The EPA has linked harmful indoor air pollution to several health issues.
Immediate Effects can include symptoms like fatigue, dry eyes, asthma, headaches, dizziness, eye, nose, and throat irritation.
Long-term Effects can include permanent respiratory damage, heart disease, reproductive problems, neurological disorders, or even cancer.
How To Keep Your Home Pollution Free
- Open Your Windows: One of the best ways to keep your home healthy is to open your windows. The more outside air you can get into your home, the better. In the summertime, ditch your air conditioning and keep the windows open. In the winter, make a point to open the windows for at least a few minutes every day. And if you’re doing something like painting, sanding, paint stripping, or soldering it’s vital you have fresh, circulating air in your home.
- Buy Plants: Plants naturally cleanse the air, so the more plants you have in your home the more “filtration” systems you have! NASA recently finished a 2-year study which proved that many common houseplants help remove dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air. Pick up some Bamboo Palm, Chinese Evergreen, English Ivy, Sansevieria (Mother In Law Tongue), Gerbera Daisies, Pop Mums, or Peace Lily if you’d like cleaner air.
- Use Natural Cleansers: Did you know the FDA doesn’t regulate what companies put in common household cleansers? And did you know that women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate than women who work outside the home, according to the Toronto Air Conference? The statistics regarding the hazardous nature of most commercial cleaning products are truly alarming, and these cleaners are a major contributor to indoor air pollution. One of the best things you can do for you and your family’s health is to start using natural cleaning products. Baking soda, vinegar, and lemons can work wonders. And, companies like Seventh Generation make all-natural cleaning solutions that don’t contribute to indoor air pollution.
- Stop Using Pesticides: The EPA estimates that over 75% of American homes use at least one pesticide. But, pesticides have been linked to everything from dizziness and shortness of breath to damage to the liver and central nervous system. There are plenty of natural, safe ways to get rid of household pests without using these dangerous chemicals! And it’s important not to use pesticides in your yard either; children and pets easily track the pesticide residue indoors.
- Use Low/ No VOC Paint: Every time you paint a room, you get that “paint smell”, right? Well, the paint smell is actually the off gassing of several harmful chemicals. Next time you have to paint a room in your home, spend extra for the low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint that eliminates this off gassing.
- Stop Smoking: If you or another family member smokes inside the home, stop. Tobacco is full of harmful chemicals, and even the second-hand smoke causes cancer. Plus, the tar from smoke will linger for years on walls and furniture.
- Get A Radon Detector: WebMD says that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States (after smoking). Radon naturally occurs in the soil, but it can leak into your home through cracks in your foundation. Getting a radon detector will help you identify if you have a leak so that you can immediately get it fixed.
- Avoid Carpeting- Carpeting is full of dangerous chemicals like styrene, formaldehyde, and benzene. These are known carcinogens. And, your family will be breathing these fumes in for months after new carpeting is installed. Plus, carpeting naturally traps dirt and pollutants, which are hard to get out. Instead, go with cork or bamboo flooring, which is much healthier (and more sustainable) for your family. If you really want carpeting in your home, there are some eco-friendly brands that don’t use hazardous chemicals or glues, so there is is no off gassing.
- Don’t Dry Clean: Dry cleaned clothes have several dangerous chemicals on the fabric. And when you bring these clothes home, those chemicals come too. Besides, do you really want to wear chemically-treated clothing next to your skin? Probably not. You can gently hand wash dry-clean only clothes with Woolite and hang dry. This is not only safer, but cheaper.
- Clean Out the Garage: You know that “garage smell”, which is usually a combination of lawn mower gas, old paint, oil, paint stripper, and who know what else? Well, that smell is really, really dangerous for your health. All these chemical fumes can cause major damage to your body, and having them sitting around your garage is not good. Responsibly dispose of these chemicals at your county’s next Hazardous Waste Drop off. Until then, keep the garage door and any windows open as much as possible to keep the space ventilated.
Most of us spend 90% of our time indoors. Which is why it’s so important that the air we breathe is healthy. It’s easy to create a green and healthy home, and all it takes is a little awareness and a change of habit. And most of us would agree that our health, and our family’s health, is more than worth the effort.