According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), common organic pollutants are two to five times higher inside our homes than outside, whether in rural or industrial areas. Since we spend nearly 90 percent of our time indoors, we could be undermining our health without even realizing it.
Protecting our health goes beyond working to reduce pollutants outside and starts with proper ventilation and switching to eco-friendly products in our own homes. Here’s how to improve your home air quality to start living a healthier life.
Plants and flowers can help purify the air in your home by absorbing harmful pollutants with carbon dioxide. In addition, microorganisms in the potting soil can destroy pollutants and convert them into new plant tissue. And as an added bonus, plants and flowers help lower stress levels for people working in demanding office environments.
Get started with a home purification plan by adding aloe vera to your home. Aloe vera releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide at night. You can use it in your kitchen or bedroom and can spread its gel on your skin to soothe burns. For example, Gerbera daisies help remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air in addition to other chemical vapors. Peace lilies can also help reduce and remove ammonia, acetone, and benzene.
2. Check Your Ventilation
Improving ventilation in your home is one of the first lines of defense in improving your home air quality. Regularly clean your air filters and window screens for plenty of fresh air. According to the EPA, most heating and cooling systems that used forced air don’t actually bring fresh air into your home.
Open your windows as much as possible and make use of fans to remove contaminants from the room. A few minutes of fresh air can be enough to help reduce harmful air pollutants. Even so, chances are you have some type of air pollutants that you’re not aware of lurking around your home. Regular screening can help.
3. Clean the Right Way
Sweeping up with a dry broom and running a cloth over dusty furniture won’t do much to combat air pollution. WebMD recommends a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce concentrations of lead, dust mites and allergens. Microfiber mops can also help grab any extra residue lingering on your floors. Next, skip the synthetic fragrance and instead rely on natural air fresheners and products. Switch to eco-friendly detergents, use white vinegar to clean your floors and mix natural lemon and lavender oils to create a great-smelling disinfectant.
4. Go Natural
Take a look at the decor and accessories around your home. Great smelling candles may actually be omitting dangerous pollutants and VOCs like benzene and formaldehyde into the air and compromising your health. Instead, try beeswax candles and natural essential oils to freshen up your home. Put down traditional paints, and opt for no VOC paint to touch up your house’s walls. You can also purchase non-toxic varnishes and ask your local home goods retailer to help source the most eco-friendly products available.