The Low Down On Green Living
May 5th, 2008
Do you like to come home and take a nice deep breath as you relax? You may be getting more than you bargained for! It may come as a shock to learn that according to the EPA the air in our homes is often two to five times more poisonous than the air outside.
There are many sources of indoor air pollution: furniture or cabinets made of pressed wood products, damp carpets, pesticides, cleaners, tobacco smoke, hobby supplies, mold and the list goes on. These chemicals can cause and aggravate allergies, some have been linked to nervous system disorders, and some of them are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Immediate effects can show up as sore throats, itchy eyes, headaches or fatigue. Longer term effects can be much worse.
Here are 10 ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality.
1. Open the windows — get some fresh air into your house! Best of all, it’s free.
2. Change your furnace/AC air filter at least a couple of times each year. Definitely do it before winter heat season starts– your air filter has trapped all kinds of junk while it has been sitting idle. Find replacement air filters here.
3. Don’t use chemical air fresheners. Most air fresheners sold at your local grocery or drug store are laden with chemicals. If you need to freshen your air, trying getting a natural essential oil and some of those wooden “soaking sticks” to spread sweet fragrance around your home.
4. Similarly, be careful about candles. Paraffin wax candles are made from a petroleum derivative, and the fumes from the paraffin wax have been found to cause kidney and bladder tumors in laboratory animals. “Gel candles” are also dangerous; they are the ones that are clear, often colored, and usually come in a glass container. Most gel candles are also scented with artificial fragrances. Many types of scented candles (not just the gel type) are unhealthy–some scented candles include acetone, benzene, trichloroethylene, and a host of other toxic chemicals. Be sure to try to get soy candles and read the labels carefully– do you recognize the essential oils they are using as scents? If not, ask or don’t buy it!
5. Use non-toxic home cleaners. More and more people are coming to realize that standard home cleaning supplies contain many chemicals which are dangerous to breathe or touch. You can either click here to buy safe pre-made cleaners, or consider making your own natural cleaners– it’s cheap and easy!
6. Consider getting rid of your carpets– or get natural carpets. Carpeting can be one of the biggest air-quality culprits in your home: most carpets are treated with chemicals that off-gas and carpets act as traps for dirt, allergans, mold and other nasty items. If you can stand to part with your carpet, it will improve your air quality. If you must have carpet, consider natural area rugs.
7. Consider getting room air filters for your home. A HEPA filter can seriously reduce the presence of toxins, allergens, and particulate matter in your home. See air filters here.
8. Limit or remove vinyls from your home. Did you know that your vinyl shower curtain is releasing toxic gas? Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has been found to discharge softening chemicals called phthalates into home air, increasing respiratory problems.
9. If you’re doing any painting or staining, be sure to use no- or low-VOC paints and finishes. Volatile organic compounds are found in most traditional paints and their off-gassing can be dangerous for your family. Find safe paints and stains here.
10. Obviously, make your home a smoke-free zone!
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