Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, yet as reported by the DPA, concentrations of some pollutants in homes and offices can be up to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.
Sources of indoor pollution include combustion sources such as wood, harsh cleaning products, central heating and cooling systems, pressed wood furniture, pesticides, and more. It is possible to significantly improve your indoor air quality while maintaining a clean and beautiful home by keeping the following considerations in mind.
Efficient Cleaning with Less Toxic Products
Many cleaning products can irritate the eyes and throat or cause serious health problems (including visual disorders, memory loss, and respiratory problems), with some releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is possible to keep your home clean without resorting to ingredients like ammonia and bleach. One way is to invest in a powerful steam cleaner that is able to clean a wide variety of surfaces, killing bacteria and viruses efficiently. Another is to use DIY cleansers containing ingredients like lemon, vinegar, or baking soda (for instance, to tackle grease). Essential oil blends such as Thieves can also efficiently clean surfaces while leaving your home with a pleasant yet natural odor. Finally, avoid personal care products such as spray-on deodorants, opting for natural roll-on products instead.
Filter Your Indoor Air
Regular ventilation (opening windows and doors to let fresh air in) is vital, but so is having a good air filter system at home, especially during the winter months, when homes are ventilated less. Air filters don’t just filter air; they also keep dust and pollen away and filter out large particles out of your HVAC system, saving the latter from damage. Specialists such as Filter King (https://filterking.com/air-filter-sizes/20x25x4) report that using the right filter size for your HVAC system is vital, since filters that are too small cannot efficiently filter out large particles. You should also change your air filter as directed, or dust, mold, and other particles could clog the system. Finally, consider the use of HEPA filters if you have allergies or asthma; these smaller filters, meant for use in small spaces, can filter out particles as tiny as 0.3 microns in size.
Avoid Toxic Furniture
Many common household items can also release VOCs, which is why investing in eco-friendly furniture is worth every penny. Furniture to watch out for include sofas containing flame retardants and pressed wood furniture. The latter, for instance, can outgas formaldehyde, which can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, skin rash, severe allergic reactions, and more. The World Health Organization actually classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. Opt for solid wood instead of pressed wood items and ensure the furniture is finished in a wax or low-VOC, water-based finish. You can also consider buying unfinished furniture you can later paint or seal at home using non-toxic paint or finishing products.
Because the indoor air quality of a home can be worse than the quality of exterior air, takings steps to reduce indoor toxicity is key. Avoid harsh cleaning products and spray-on personal care products. Invest in a good air filtering system and maintain it as required. Finally, consider investing in sustainable wood furniture that contains no components that emit VOCs.