In our chemical-laden world, indoor air pollution is a real problem, especially in the winter when doors and windows are shut. While it’s good to decrease energy costs by sealing leaks and drafts, an air-tight home can harbor very poor air.
Carpet and wallpaper adhesives, particleboard/flakeboard, and other building materials can emit (or “off-gas”) chemicals into the air. Even those who do not typically suffer from asthma and allergies can benefit from cleaner indoor air; it’s just better for everyone. Here are some tips for getting the best quality indoor air in your home.
1. Eliminate the source
If possible, get rid of whatever is causing the pollution. Take up carpet, strip wallpaper, and replace all with eco-friendly items. According to some home inspectors, carpet is one of the most significant sources of indoor air pollution.
2. Go for the green
Houseplants can improve air quality. They take in carbon monoxide and exude oxygen. Houseplants can also absorb chemicals such as ammonia, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. Plant varieties that are particularly suited for this are peace lily, various palms (lady palm, parlor palm, and bamboo palm), and English ivy. For houseplants to make a difference, you’ll need to have one plant per 100 square feet or so.
3. Keep filters clean
Your heating and cooling system’s filters need to be changed regularly, at least every 90 days. During periods of heavy use, changing them every month is a good practice. This will also lower your energy bills. The entire unit should be kept clean, and if mold and/or algae are present a professional will need to clean out your system.
4. Ventilation and circulation
Air that is moving and fresh is not as likely to harbor pollutants. If you have kitchen and bathroom fans, run them periodically to remove air from the room and keep it circulating. Open windows and doors whenever weather permits, and consider a mechanical ventilation system that will remove indoor air via fans or ducts and replace it with outdoor air.
5. Have your home inspected
There are various organizations that specialize in home inspections with a focus on air quality. A professional home inspector can give you helpful details about exactly what pollutants are in your home and their source(s). They will also be able to give you advice on improving the air quality in your home.
6. Use non-toxic cleaners
Using chemical cleaners can put a lot of pollutants into the air. Try to use cleaners that are eco-friendly and do not contain bleach, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals. This includes laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, bathroom and kitchen cleaners, glass cleaners, and so forth.
Sometimes, the best way to improve your home’s air quality is to become aware – many of us have no idea as to what the chemical content is of our walls, floors, or household cleaners. Take some time to learn about some of the toxic substances in your everyday life, and take steps to eliminate them.