When you think of air pollution, does your mind jump directly to an image of a large freight train billowing black smoke or of a layer of smog resting over a city. What if we told you that the air inside your home, office, or school is more polluted than the air outside? Oftentimes, it’s the truth!
Some indoor air is more polluted and has poorer quality than the air that has cars, planes and trains rushing through it. Now, how is that possible? Well, there are a few sources of indoor pollution that we can all find in our homes or offices right now, and steps we can take to reduce their impact:
Let’s talk plastic.
By now you have been told to stop using disposable plastic water bottles to help save the environment but also because there are health concerns with drinking out of plastic itself. Folks, the rumors are true. Heated plastic made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can off-gas as well as leach out toxic chemicals that have been proven to cause reproductive abnormalities and neurobehavioral changes. It might be time to consider upgrading from that plastic coffee maker to a metal or glass french-press, or switching out those synthetic shower curtains, to avoid such toxins.
What about that carbon monoxide detector?
Ever wonder why you need one? Well, your kitchen appliances like stoves, ovens, fireplaces and heaters all use gas to produce heat and can produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, headaches, fatigue and possibly death if it remains unventilated. These appliances can also produce nitrogen dioxide and other toxins that can create respiratory issues. Sure, by now you’re thinking, “Who needs a stove anyway? I could just barbecue all my meals outside - oh yeah, even in the winter!” But hold on friends, it doesn’t end here.
Let’s take a closer look at kitchen tables.
Your kids do homework there, your family eats there, and it rests in the heart of your home. But what has it been made out of? If it’s cobbled together with a form of pressed wood (very common) like fiberboard, particleboard or hardwood plywood, it may be releasing formaldehyde fumes, a known carcinogen. Here’s an opportunity to splurge on a table that won’t give you and your family cancer risks.
There are other options to help keep your family safe and your indoor pollution down that won’t break the bank. Consider testing your home for radon, which is an odorless gas that can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer. Just perform a quick, inexpensive test found at most hardware stores and you can be on your way to a healthier future. The Environmental Protection Agency provides tips and cheap methods to reducing radon emissions in their Citizen’s Guide to Radon.
Next step is to step away from that Febreze!
Fragrances might give you and your guests the impression of a clean home, however, synthetic fragrance is a big no-no. Studies have shown that there can be up to 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are toxic or hazardous in one air freshener. These chemicals can be found in laundry detergent with fragrance, wall plug-ins, and soaps.
Another concern about these products is that many are petroleum based, which means they’ve only been tested for skin irritation but not for the effects of accidental inhalation, which is inevitable when you spray it in the air. Therefore, we must recommend that you toss those aerosol sprays and instead ~ open a window and try this lovely lavender air and linen spray.
Finally, try to keep your space as clean and dust-free as possible.
Not only is dust kind of yucky to look at, it also contains chemicals, allergens, and flame-retardants, which easily make their way into mouths and blood streams. So grab that wet mop and vacuum and go to town! The walls, furniture, carpet, wood flooring – let no corner remain untouched. If you really want to get after those pesky dust particles, consider buying a HEPA filter to keep dirt trapped in the vacuum rather than being blow back out into the room.
Time to take a deep breath and remember...
Small changes can make a big impact on you and your family’s health. Baby steps, baby steps...