Air quality is an important factor that can influence our health. Most people are aware of outdoor air pollution. Local T.V. weather reports routinely broadcast air quality levels and warn us to stay indoors if air pollution particulates increase too much. But how safe is staying indoors for you? EPA reports that indoor air is often 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air and chemicals in air fresheners actually increase indoor pollution. So what can you do?
Most individuals are not aware that certain chemicals and toxins are actually at a much higher level inside our homes. Dr. Ann C. Steinemann, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the University of Washington researched six popular consumer products: liquid spray air fresheners, plug-in-air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, dryer sheets and the kinds of solid disc deodorizers used in toilets. They were found to emit a staggering 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Dr. Steinemann said “I didn’t find a brand that didn’t emit at least one toxic chemical.”
The worst part is that fragrance in laundry products and air fresheners often emit literally dozens of chemicals–some of which are considered toxic by federal law. Chemicals are replicating the smells we associate with sunshine, a spring rain, a garden bouquet, etc. Sadly there is no law that requires disclosure of all chemicals in fragrances. Steve Gilbert, a toxicologist put it very succinctly: “At the very minimum, we should have a right to know what’s in these products.”
So what can we do to minimize and protect ourselves from home air pollution?
1. Remove your shoes before entering your home. Think of all the places your feet touch and all the items they come in contact with–pesticides on the ground-oil residues on the road/parking lots, chemicals and germs on public bathroom floors.
2. Avoid using air fresheners, fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
3. Go green and change your home cleaners and laundry soap brands.
4. Add specific house plants which help remove toxic chemicals from the air. Formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene are removed by the following plants:
Mass cane, Pot mum, Gerbera daisy, Warnecki, Ficus, English Ivy, Marginata, Mother-in-laws tongue, Peace Lily, Chinese evergreen, Banana, Bamboo Palm, Heart Leaf philodendron, Green Spider Plant, and Janet Craig.
Remember that the most important room in your house is your bedroom so don’t forget to place some plants in it.
5. Avoid using insect poison sprays. Two autoimmune disorders-lupus and rheumatoid arthritis- have already been linked to the use of agricultural pesticides. Dr. Parks and her NIEHS team reviewed a study on 77,000 postmenopausal women which found that women who used insecticides had a higher risk of developing lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The study also found that women who used the most insecticides were twice as likely to develop the two disorders.
6. Fortify your body with nutritional supplements.
7. Choose organic foods that have less exposure to environmental pollution from agriculture sprays and insecticides.
8. Don’t forget personal toiletries. Whenever possible purchase fragrance free, colorant free, products that do not contain mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, parabens, PABA, propylene glycol, or sodium laurel.
9. Use the real thing- cut open a lemon or orange, gather some mint leaves, or just open a box of baking soda to refresh the air.
Consider using an air surface sanitizer such as the EdenPure which uses 4 distinct mechanisms to attack and destroy indoor air pollution that has lodged in the walls, ceilings, floors, carpets, and furniture. This is very beneficial if you suffer from respiratory illness such as asthma, allergies, second hand smoke, pet dander, mold and yeast.