Indoor Air Pollution is a major problem that gets little attention. Outdoor air pollution steals the show, but….
Do you know many pollutants are 2 to 5 times more concentrated in your home then outside? Source: EPA
Pretty scary – right!?
Your children are breathing that polluted air into their delicate lungs. You’re breathing that same polluted air.
Your home is where you should feel safe and protected. Where you can go to escape the countless dangers lurking in the world.
If these statistics make you a little worried about the air you’re breathing in your home, you’re not alone. You’re a good Mom and care about your health and the health of those you love.
I have good news for you! I’m going to help you easily solve the indoor air pollution problem. We’ll break everything down. Give you simple hacks to dramatically increase the air quality in YOUR home in just a few minutes. Easy peasy!
Special Concerns for Asthma SufferersAnyone in your home suffer from allergies or asthma? Then indoor air pollution is especially important.
We think our indoor air is safer to breath. Going inside to hide from seasonal allergies symptoms. Or hiding from outdoor air pollution alerts.
For good reason, air pollution can have a significant effect on your health.
Studies have shown that air pollution will aggravate asthma symptoms. Source: NCBI If you have asthma, air pollution becomes increasingly important. And even more important if your child has asthma.
I understand, I have asthma.
You want to minimize symptoms as much as possible – right?!
After making some simple changes to the air in our home, I have reduced my asthma symptoms. So much so that I don’t depend on an inhaler anymore. It’s liberating! I’m not promising the same results but I want to share my success story with you to help you and those you love. Maybe it will duplicate the same results in YOUR LIFE! At the least, I’m sure you’ll see some great improvement.
Let’s talk about what causes indoor air pollution.
Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
You may be thinking, I don’t use strong chemicals in my home. I don’t have to worry.
BUT… you do.
Indoor air pollution comes from many sources. Everyone has some level of indoor air pollution.
Where does indoor air pollution come from anyway??
Common causes of indoor air pollution:
- Furniture – especially particle board and plywood furniture
- Glues and adhesives used in flooring, furniture, construction
- Household cleaners you spray into the air
- Air fresheners and fragrances used in laundry detergents/fabric softener
- Paints and varnishes used on walls, furniture, cabinets etc.
- Flame Retardants
- Mattresses and foam used in furniture
Loads of pollutants can be tracked in on the bottom of your shoes. In our house, we have a no shoes policy. You can even get your free printable no shoes sign. We even have simple storage for shoes and coats so our kids can put them away on their own.
Then you’ve also greatly increased the indoor air pollution in your home.
New building materials increase your air pollution as they off gas the toxic chemicals in them. Over time. most of the materials will off gas and emit less pollution.
But if you think about all the items in your home adding a little bit of pollution, that little bit adds up quickly.
Most indoor air pollutants are VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds. You most commonly hear about VOC’s in the paint department. With the term low VOC or no VOC paint. Both low VOC and no VOC are good options to protect your families health!
But you might be asking how much air pollution is in your home?
There are indoor air pollution monitors to tell you exactly what your levels are.
Remember an indoor air pollution monitor is optional. For those who are curious and need to know your indoor air pollution levels.
You can safely assume there is indoor air pollution in your home and proceed with the hacks below. Without the device.
I use the hacks below and feel confident about the air quality in my home. You can too!
So now we know where indoor air pollution comes from. Let’s talk about how we get rid of it!!
3 Hacks to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
We’re spending more time indoors than ever before. Studies show most people spend 90% of their time indoors! Pretty crazy right?! Source: EPA
We spend even more time indoors during the cold winter months. I know I’d rather spend my days snuggled up around our warm pellet stove then outside in freezing weather. The dancing fire is almost mesmerizing.
But staying closed up in the house is not a good thing. Indoor air pollution gets trapped. Unable to escape.
Hack #1 – Open the Windows
Opening the windows is a great way to reduce the indoor air pollution. Open windows air things out – letting toxic gases escape and fresh air inside. Instead of continually recycling air through your homes heating and cooling system. Source: EPA
Open windows every opportunity you get!
Just 10-15 minutes a day can do wonders.
But what do you do in cold wintertime or if you have seasonal allergies? Or if you don’t like to open windows?
Let’s move on to hack #2.
Hack #2 – Houseplants To Clean The Air
Plants do an amazing job of cleaning the air in your home!! Some plants do a better job cleaning the air then other plants. I bet you want the top performing plants in your home.
NASA’s 1989 clean air study revealed that many low maintenance plants filter the air. Removing some of the most common indoor air pollutants.
The NASA clean air study breaks everything down into a simple chart. The easy to read chart explains what pollutants each plant cleans from the air. Plus the mark each plant that is is toxic to humans or pets.
The biggest win is that most of these plants are low maintenance!
I had a black thumb for years! These plants helped build my confidence and now I can keep a variety of plants alive in thriving in my home.
If I can, you can too!
Some of these plants survive on neglect. Pretty cool right?
Top Picks: 3 Air Cleaning Plants:
The NASA clean air study list has 29 air cleaning plants on it. Loads of variety. Most low maintenance.
One study found houseplants work as quickly as 2 hours to to clean your home’s air. The study found high levels of pollution reduced to barely detectable levels.All because of houseplants! Don’t you wish cleaning the surfaces in your house would require such little effort! Right?! Source: NCBI
I was going to explain the chemicals and pollutants in your air inside your home. And what harm those chemicals can cause. It was getting really long and drawn out. If you’re interested in learning more – I’d love to write another post on it. Leave me a comment below.
Otherwise let’s move on to my favorite air cleaning plants.
To make finding these plants easy, I’ve linked to the plants on Amazon below. Yes, you can buy plants on Amazon. I was amazed how well they transported.
I liked directly to the seller I used to purchase our Dracaena Deremensis (aka Janet Craig). Who names these plants anyway???
Anyway, if you click here, you can see all the plants they sell. Just select products from the selection. I think you’ll be impressed with these plants too. Beats driving all over town trying to find these plants.
My favorite air cleaning plant is the peace lily. We have several in our home. The peace lily filters all the indoor air pollutants studied: benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
The peace lily is easy to care for. When the peace lily needs some water, it tells you. It leaves will droop. Pretty awesome when your plant can tell you it needs water!
Shortly after watering, it perks right back up.
The peace lily gave me confidence to get other plants. Since I hadn’t killed it and it told me by wilting when it was thirsty.
Just let the roots dry out between watering so the roots don’t rot.
The peace lily thrives in low light. I found they did well in our living room and family room, but the bedrooms did not provide enough light. So if your peace lily seems to be sick, try a new location.
The peace lily is toxic to dogs and cats.
The peace lily is tough to bloom. You still get all the air cleaning benefits, blooming or not. After 3 years, I’ve finally got some blooms. Very pretty!
I like the garden mum because it’s hardy, easy to grow, and cheap! The bright blooms are an added bonus!
Yup, these are the same mum you see for sale all over the place in stores. They don’t sell them on Amazon, but this one is easy to find in stores. This one was on sale at our local department store.
Only downside is Mum’s gets big fast. And will need 5 hours of sunlight a day. Pick a location under a window with loads of light.
The mum is a great air filter. It filters all the same of the indoor air pollutants studied, just like the peace lily. This includes benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
With proper pruning, the garden mum is a great indoor plant to decrease your indoor air pollution.
The Dracaena Deremensis filters the air at a high rate. Which is pretty cool right?! Again, the Dracaena Deremensis filters all the pollutants studied. Benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
I’m excited to see how quickly the Dracaena Deremensis will grow. It gets to be a tall plant. You can prune the top and replant it for a 2nd plant. For Free!
How awesome is that!?
It thrives in low light and seems to thrive on neglect. It’s a great option for those of you with a not so green thumb.
All the plants in the NASA study did not perform as well as the three plants I have listed here. Most filtered less pollutants. That’s why these are my favorites! And I’m sure to be your favorites too.
Now that we’ve covered how to clean up the air, we need to talk about eliminating the pollutants at their source.
Hack #3 Swap out your household productsThe biggest change in air quality is from products you use in your home on a daily basis.
Building materials and furniture are something you have little control over. Be smart, and use eco-friendly options when available.
Instead, let’s talk about the products you use to clean your home. And how they contribute to your indoor air quality problem.
When you’re cleaning, you’re actually creating indoor air pollution. Spraying toxins into the air.
Have you ever read the ingredients of your household cleaners? Probably tough to do. Unless you live in California. Otherwise manufacturers DO NOT have to list ingredients on their cleaning products. Crazy right?!? Source: EWG
So who knows what you’re spraying in the air. And even after you wipe the cleaner off, a residue remains. On surfaces your family is touching…. all – day – long.
Many household chemicals are carcinogens – aka they cause cancer!
And don’t let products claiming to be “Green” or “Natural” fool you. Many are a bunch of hype!! I turn to the Environmental Working Group to give me the down low on what’s safe. The EWG Cleaning Database is FREE to use and gives you safety ratings on tons of cleaning products.
I got sick of sorting through the hype of what cleaners were safe or not, so I started making my own. And they work even better then the store bought stuff.
You can start by making my All Purpose Green Cleaning Recipe. You can use it anywhere in your home to clean (except granite and natural stone).
Laundry Room is Public Enemy #1
The laundry room products you use are especially important.
Fragrance and air fresheners are huge indoor pollutants.
Again, your kids are breathing that air your “cleaning with”. And you’re especially at risk if your the one doing the spraying and cleaning.
Febreeze earned a spot in the “Hall of Shame” for one of the WORST household cleaners!! When you spray Febreeze, your releasing a whopping 89 air pollutants into the air in your home!!!
Yup, Febreeze is dumping 89 different chemicals into the air you and your family breathe.
STAY AWAY from Febreeze!!
The Fragrance & Allergy Connection
I can attest to it first hand. My quality of life drastically improved when I removed scented laundry products. Febreeze being a huge culprit.
Fragrance lurks in lots of places. Just look at the isle full of air fresheners and products solely to spray fragrance into the air.
You need to skip over this section of the grocery store from now on.
I know it’s a little heartbreaking. But not as heartbreaking as struggling to breathe right? Let’s keep things in perspective.
Even more heart wrenching if its your child who has asthma. And you watch struggle to breathe.
Finally change out your personal care products for unscented versions. Yes – no more bath and body works. Read labels, if it says Fragrance, put it back!
Clean up how you clean your home.
Salt lamps are a great hands off solution. Yet I’m hesitant to recommend them.
We’ve had mixed results with houseplants getting enough sunlight in our bedrooms. Hopefully our new Dracaena Deremensis will be able to survive in the bedrooms.
In the meantime, we have a salt lamp in each bedroom.
Salt lamps advertise to remove pollutants from your home. But I can’t find anything to back it up. Not studies or research.
We have them so I use them.
They are hands off. No watering. No care at all.
Plus salt lamps make a great night light. The adjustable brightness control makes it a breeze to turn the light down to a soft glow at night.
We leave your salt lamp on all day long. Otherwise I’m sure I’d forget to turn it on and off.
So the choice is yours if you want to invest in a salt lamp. If you already have one, I’d use it.
What about HEPA filters and Air Cleaners?
Air cleaners clean the air through a filtering system. Commonly you’ll hear about a HEPA filter. Problem is air cleaners get very expensive if you want one that actually works. Smaller, less expensive models rarely perform well when put to the test. Source: EPA.
Quality air purifiers clean the air through in a different method. An ionic charge zaps the impurities with UV lamps. Killing germs and other pollutants. The particle needs to come in contact with the contaminate for a certain amount of time to be effective. A potential downside. Plus they get expensive too.
Personally, I choose plants to clean the air in my home. The plants are less expensive. No filters to change or pay for to maintain. Plants just need sunlight and water!
Take Action Today!
Unless you take action, your indoor air quality will remain the same. Clean up the air in your home.
Make a commitment to your families health today.
Open the windows.
Buy some plants.
Clean up your household items.
The action you take today will help you breathe easy tomorrow.