Published on April 7th, 2018 | by Sara Cobble
5 Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
The air in our homes is often far more polluted than the air outside, where cars and buses are whizzing by. How is that possible? And how can you make it better? Understanding and controlling common indoor air pollutants can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.
1. Buy green cleansers from health food stores (or make your own!)
Many cleansers can have a toxic brew of petrochemical ingredients, but did you know that skin exposure is only one of the many ways they can invade your body? If you’ve ever cleaned a small, windowless bathroom with a chlorine-based cleanser, you may have experienced fatigue, a headache, achy muscles, blurred vision, or any other number of symptoms. All of these and more may be associated with inhaling the fumes from your cleanser. A great way to find greener cleansers is to let your local health food store act as a kind of filter for you and your family. You’re more likely to find the greenest, healthiest products around. Natural cleansers like vinegar and baking soda can also clean bathrooms, kitchens, carpets, drains, and more.
Make your own natural cleansers with green cleaning recipes here.
Brands we trust:
- Bon Ami (they make a scrubbing powder that is a better alternative to Comet)
- Seventh Generation
- Dr. Bronner’s
2. Breathe easy with greener candles
Did you know that breathing the aromatic and relaxing fragrance of some candles while you’re taking a bath can be worse for you than breathing secondhand cigarette smoke? Candles can be pretty much as toxic as it gets, but since they’re not food, their ingredients don’t need to be placed on their labels in many places. Many candles, especially those made in China and imported, even have lead in their wicks. There is a reason leaded gasoline was banned in the United States: burning lead is terrible for our health! Look for candles that are 100% beeswax (organic if possible) as the only ingredient. If it doesn’t say 100% beeswax, it might be 1% beeswax and 99% petrochemical paraffin. Also look for candles that have an organic cotton wick. It’s the only way to ensure that your exposure to breathing the gases of petrochemicals and heavy metals is as low as possible.
3. Unclog your drains without chemicals
A clogged drain or sink is never convenient, but unclogging it doesn’t have to be a difficult, chemical-ridden task. We recommend using a sink plunger to unclog your drains. They’re inexpensive ($3-$10) and can be used on clogs for many years without using any chemical products. You can also try this recipe for a homemade drain cleaner for a homemade drain cleaner.
4. Buy organic bedding
There’s a phenomenon called “off-gassing,” which is what you smell when you paint a new room. The problem: that smell is a nasty chemical that is turning from liquid additive to a gaseous and breathable form in your indoor air. Formaldehydes used in manufacturing furniture may continue to off-gas into your indoor air for many years, but the same phenomenon occurs with your bedding, where we spend roughly 1/3 of our lives. Our advice? Go organic.
If you aren’t able to afford an organic mattress just yet, get yourself an organic pillow and organic pillowcases. They’re affordable, readily available at many stores and online, and are a great way to reduce your overall consumption of off-gassed chemicals.
5. Dust often
The dust in your house likely contains fairly high levels of PFOs (nonstick products like Scotchgard) and PBDEs (flame retardants). How does it get there? It’s similar to off-gassing, but basically the chemicals in your house that are applied for one purpose (like flame retardants) do what chemicals do: they react with other things. As it becomes airborne, it may cling to other particles and rain down as dust. To keep levels of airborne chemicals in dust down in your house, just wipe down your hard surfaces every week with a damp cloth. Super easy, and super effective.