An open wood-framed window on a green wall.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that the air in many homes is two to five times worse in quality than the air outdoors. The findings are surprising to those who value health and who see their home as a haven that is safe from impurities, pollution, and other toxins that can be harmful to human health. The good news is that the factors contributing to indoor air pollution are relatively easy to tackle. Having optimal indoor air quality can involve both smaller and larger steps, all of which can be taken in an environmentally friendly fashion. If you're keen on taking your time at home to make key changes, the following tips may be useful to you.

Replacing Wood-Pressed Furniture And Some Soft Furnishings

You may not be able to replace all items at once, but if you have pressed wood furniture or sofas containing flame retardants, you should consider eventually replacing them. The main problem with pressed wood furniture is the way it is made. Manufacturers press sawdust and scrap wood together with glues and resins that may contain urea-formaldehyde. This then escapes into the air, causing a plethora of health effects that can include a burning throat, breathing issues, and watery eyes. Formaldehyde has been linked to certain types of cancer, with research by the National Cancer Institute showing that people exposed to higher amounts of formaldehyde have a higher risk of death owing to lymph system cancer.

Committing To Green Cleaning

One of the biggest sources of poor air quality is toxic cleaning products. One study by the American Thoracic Society found that people who work as cleaners or regularly use cleaning sprays or other chemical products at home have a greater decline in lung function over time than those who do not clean. The reason is the nature of the products used. Ingredients such as bleach, ammonia, and other harsh cleaners can cause a plethora of conditions, ranging from skin irritation to respiratory difficulties. Cleaning in an eco-friendly fashion is easy. Instead of surface cleaners, try essential oil blends such as Thieves. To tackle grease, try simple combinations like lemon juice and baking soda. To remove dust and kill bacteria, forego products altogether, and give your home a regular steam clean. Avoid all cleaning products that contain dangerous chemicals such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are known for a plethora of health risks.

Ventilating Your Home 

Ventilating your home regularly and efficiently can significantly reduce the buildup of toxins indoors. When the weather permits, open doors and windows for several hours to let fresh air in and enable allergens, pollutants, and excess humidity to exit your home space. Keep humidity at bay by always drying laundry outside the home. In the spring, summer and (if possible, early autumn), try to leave windows open overnight, opening them only slightly if the weather is cool. Finally, install a professional ventilation system comprising air conditioning systems, air curtains, air recirculation, or air infiltration systems.

Improving your indoor air quality is a vital way to pursue good health. Sources of indoor toxins include poor ventilation, chemicals in cleaning and skincare products, and wood-pressed and other furniture containing formaldehyde. There are many steps families can take to improve air quality, including cleaning in a green fashion, ventilating their homes regularly, and slowly but surely replacing furniture that can leach VOCs and other toxins into the living environment.


by Jennifer Dawson

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