Environment: How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
By now, we are all aware that poor air quality may exist outside of our homes due to pollution created by vehicle emissions, factories and coal burning power plants. But did you know that the air quality inside of our homes is estimated to be 2 - 5 times more harmful that the outdoor air quality? Being green is not just about outdoor air pollution, it is also about indoor air pollution because being green means that ALL air should be breathable.
Why? Because it has also been estimated that we spend 90% of our time in an indoor environment, whether that be our home, workplace or school. Indoor environments house a dangerous mixture of chemical cleaners and building materials made of chemicals, gases, allergens, molds, pollen, etc. Therefore, healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) is essential for our well being and quality of life.
What Affects the Indoor Air Quality?
Three Main Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
- Sources that release gas and/or particles
- Poor ventilation
- High temperature and humidity levels
Major Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
- Biological Pollutants (bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products
- Lead (Pb)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Radon (Rn)
- Respirable Particles
- Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces, and Chimneys
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
How Indoor Air Quality Affects You
Immediate Health Effects
- Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Humidifier fever
- Symptoms that mimic those associated with colds and viral diseases
Long Term Health Effects
- Respiratory disease
- Heart disease
12 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality:
- Reduce the amount of chemicals used in the home by making home made cleaners with non-toxic ingredients or buying green cleaners.
- Install air purifiers into the home's HVAC system or place individual air purifiers into the living and sleeping areas of the home.
- Place dehumidifiers in basements, closets, bathrooms and/or any room that has excess moisture and high humidity levels.
- Open windows on a regular basis to dilute indoor air pollution.
- Place indoor plants that absorb harmful gases in your home.
- Only use low or no VOC paint and/or building materials.
- Try to eliminate the source of the air pollution altogether.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a hepa filter.
- Keep your home well ventilated.
- Be sure to have HVAC ducts cleaned on a regular basis.
- Use hepa filters for the cold air return with your HVAC system.
- If you live in an area that often has poor outdoor air quality like Los Angeles, make sure to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) outside before opening windows and doors.
What are you doing to make your home a healthier place to live?
Tracey Lenac is the founder, editor and publisher of Raising California, an online magazine that highlights elements of holistic, organic, GREEN lifestyle choices along with homeschooling and spirituality. She is also the founder of Soul Centered Kids in Los Angeles, California, where she teaches soul centered skills such as meditation, reiki and yoga to children of all ages and developmental abilities and the founder of The Souls of Boys, an online store specializing in non violent, non toxic, soul centered toys, books, media and resources for boys. Tracey has a Master of Arts degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is also a registered Reiki Master/Teacher, organic gardener, the mom of two boys and a secular homeschooler.