When you hear about air pollution, you usually associate it with outdoor air. But what about the indoor air pollution?
The air quality indoors at home, in the office, or in other buildings is even poorer than the air outdoors, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is where indoor air pollution comes into play.
Your home may be polluted by volatile chemicals from cleaners and perfumes, lead in dust, fire-retardants, formaldehyde, and other pollutants from carpet cleaners, furniture, paint, mattress, electronics, or even malfunctioning appliances.
Fortunately, you can do something about indoor air pollution and it requires more than just buying and setting up an air purifier. There are a few things that you need to do to clean the air and breathe in without relying on chemicals.
1. Keep your floors clean
Get rid of allergens and chemicals with a vacuum that boasts of a HEPA filter, which removes lead, fire-retardants, pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. A good vacuum cleaner would also have rotating brushes and strong suction.
Make sure to clean high traffic areas and pass by them several times before moving on to upholstered furniture, carpet edges, and walls. To prevent indoor air pollution, vacuum your place up to two to three times a week.
After vacuuming, mop your floors with plain water to remove stubborn allergens. You may want to try microfiber mops and dust clothes for a more thorough mopping.
To avoid tracking dirt and other pollutants in, put a doormat at every door. Set up a big one at the front door, where household members and guests can wipe their shoes on and reduce the number of pollutants they bring into your home.
2. Open your windows
Let the pollutants out and allow your home to breathe. Do this for at least five minutes every day. This is the simplest and cheapest thing you can do to let bad air out and bring fresh air in, something that no appliance can do for your home.
3. Grow some air purifying plants
NASA discovered that plants can effectively absorb harmful toxins in the air. They are even better at sucking up chemicals from carpets, ovens, glues, cleaning solutions, and synthetic materials.
Their 1989 findings led NASA to a recommendation that to prevent indoor air pollution, there should be two to three plants for every 100 square feet of space in the building. Some of the best air purifying plants that you can grow and care for at home are:
- Spider plants. They eliminate xylene and formaldehyde and only need to be watered two to three times a week. Spider plants get rid of benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene, and xylene. They can live on damp soil.
- Golden pothos. They eliminate carbon monoxide, xylene, formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and more. They only need water once the soil dries up.
- Garden Mums. These are effective at removing formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, and xylene. Their flower only blooms for six weeks, after which they lose their effectivity as air purifying plants so you need to get a fresh pot. These remove formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. They are hardy plants that only need water once the soil is completely dry.
- Boston fern. They eliminate xylene and formaldehyde. They grow more when placed somewhere cool with indirect light and high humidity.
- Peace lily. They bloom throughout the summer, although this would mean having pollens indoors. These get rid of benzene, ammonia, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. They love the shade and moist soil.
- Aloe vera. They remove formaldehyde. They are low maintenance and have leaves that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
- Snake plant. These are quite effective at removing trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene. They love dry conditions and some sun.
4. Light up beeswax candles
These are natural air purifiers that can neutralize toxic chemicals and other contaminants and ionize the air. If you love candles, go for beeswax. Paraffin candles will only add more toluene, soot, and benzene to your air indoors, which contributes to indoor air pollution.
Since beeswax candles burn slowly, you can use them for quite some time and save money in the process. Lighting them up can also help people with asthma.
5. Diffuse essential oils
Tea tree oil, for one, has antibacterial properties that make it a good addition to homemade cleaners or to your first aid kit, particularly for small cuts. Clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary are among the essential oils that you can diffuse to eliminate dust mites.
6. Schedule your pets for regular grooming
Every pet owner has to deal with pet dander, which refers to your beloved animals’ skin cells. These are responsible for making asthma worse. But you can minimize the risk by grooming your pets regularly, brushing their fur outdoors, and vacuuming the floors and furniture.
7. Don’t smoke indoors
There are 4,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke, not to mention that its secondhand smoke has been linked to an increased risk of children developing respiratory infections, ear infections, cancer, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Smokers also have a higher risk of developing cancer, heart attacks, breathing problems, and stroke.
8. Turn on the air conditioning unit
Since AC pulls air out of the house, cools it, and releases it back in, having the unit is like having an air filtration system working right at home.
Just make sure to change the filter regularly if you want to prevent indoor air pollution. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how often you should change it, though.
9. Let the new furniture breathe
New furnishings usually have volatile organic compounds such as benzene and toluene. They are often found in paint, fabrics, glues, and construction materials, among others. All these chemicals contribute to indoor air pollution.
These harmful chemicals should be released outside or in the garage with a window open.