Indoor air pollution has long been considered a problem by some people; completely disregarded by others. Many try to control the smells in their home with various air fresheners, but the chemicals used in these can cause reactions in some people, and may not necessarily actually clean the air. It’s better to look at other ways to control indoor air pollution in your home.
What Causes Home Indoor Air Pollution?
Air pollution inside your home comes from many sources. There can be VOCs from a wide variety of sources, allergens from pets, plants or insects, and much more. You can learn more about indoor air pollutants from Indoor Air Pollution: A Public Health Perspective (pdf). It’s a bit of an old report (1983), but I would still consider it relevant. It’s not like the sources of pollutants has changed that much.
What Can You Do About Indoor Air Pollution?
The first thing to do about indoor air pollution is to minimize it in the first place. Use the least toxic options when possible in your home, especially when cleaning. That’s why I love cleaning with baking soda and vinegar; I trust those to be safe. Many common cleaners used in the home are fairly toxic on their own, and may have added scents to make their use more pleasant, even though those scents may themselves be unhealthy.
You can have less carpeting in your home too. Carpets hold a lot of dirt, dust, pollen, mold spores and so forth. There can also be issues with the materials the carpet is made of as well as how it is installed and the padding used.
Avoiding products with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is important as well. There are now paints available with low or no VOCs, but other times they may be more difficult to avoid. Water based products are generally lower in VOCs than oil based products.
Any gas powered appliances, such as your stove/oven, furnace, hot water heater or clothes dryer can contribute to indoor air pollution. They may emit carbon monoxide, for example. You should have a carbon monoxide alarm in your home; in fact California now requires them (pdf) in any home with an attached garage or any fossil fuel source.
Your next step is to deal with the air pollution already in your home. Opening your windows can help to blow pollutants out, although you may get some more dust, pollen and such coming from outdoors, depending on the conditions outside. Still, your air will smell much better and the air outside is often cleaner than what’s inside.
Houseplants can also improve your indoor air quality. Some types, such as aloe vera (which is useful other ways too), spider plant and peace lilies are particularly suited to removing air pollutants. You can see more good choices at 15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality. Certain orchids can clean air as well, and they’re a favorite of mine.
However, it should be noted that houseplants may not remove a lot of pollution, and may encourage the growth of microorganisms if they’re overwatered. I still consider them worth it. They’re pretty!
You can also buy electric air purifiers. Make sure you pick the most effective one for your budget and situation – they can be bought for individual rooms or the entire home. Amazon.com carries all kinds of room air purifiers.
We open our windows when possible. We also do not use harsh chemical cleaners when possible.