Let’s Clear the Air

Going green — By Stephanie on April 13, 2010 at 9:48 am
open window......

You need a breath of fresh air

Ah….. home sweet home!  Nothing like stepping in the front door after a long day at work.  But what if your living space is making you sick, or putting you at risk of developing asthma, allergies or even cancer?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that indoor air quality can be 2 to 5 times more toxic than the air outside.  What can we do about such startling statistics?

Let’s clear the air!

a glimpse

What are you breathing inside?

You might be familiar with some of the most common indoor air toxins, like carbon monoxide and radon, but other dangerous sources may not be as obvious. According to recent studies, you’ll want to clear the air in your home to remove the following sources of indoor air pollution:

1.  Air purifiers.  Shockingly, the very appliance you buy to clean the air could be pumping it full of toxic ozone.  Ozone is the chief component of smog. Breathed in over time, you’ll notice its toxic effects on breathing, from asthma attacks to long-term lung tissue scarring.  If you purchase an air purifier, make sure its ozone-free!

2.  Paint.  Unless you choose low or zero-VOC paints, you could be putting yourself, your family and your pets in harm’s way when covering your walls, flooring or furniture with a new hue.  Sure, you can open the windows, but that paint smell lingers and may lead to a variety of health effects after exposure over time.

3.  Carpeting.  Like paint, new carpet (and its glue and backing) may contain chemicals that out-gas after installation, resulting in asthma attacks at the least and long-term lung complications at worst.  Even older carpet isn’t the best choice for clean indoor air.  No matter how frequently you vacuum, dust mites, fungus, pet danger and more are lurking in the plush (ewww!!)  In fact, the American Lung Association recommends you remove carpets entirely or not install them in the first place, due to the potentially adverse health impacts of both old and new carpeting.

Near my wild river... my green living room...!!! / Près de ma rivière sauvage... mon salon vert...!!! :)))

Green your living room

4.  Furniture.  Unlike the quality pieces constructed years ago, today’s furniture is often made with pressed wood (aka particle board), that is held together with formaldehyde-containing glue.  Once again, you risk the ill effects of off-gassing from such furniture.  Fumes are released over time, which you may not even smell.  Consider eco-friendly furniture that is made from sustainable wood (like bamboo) and without the use of toxic glue.

5.  Stove-top cooking.  You might be surprised that cooking at home could be dangerous!  And here we’ve been telling you to avoid restaurants and fast food.  Yet, if you have a gas stove, be aware that nitrogen dioxide may be released into the air.  Be sure to properly ventilate the kitchen during and after meal preparation.  Exhaust should vent to the outdoors.  Likewise for excess moisture.  As with bathrooms, steam may lead to mold growth if you don’t use a fan to disperse the moisture particles.  Food for thought, I’d say!

6.  Household cleaning supplies.  We’ve posted several times about the dangers of common household cleaning supplies.  It shouldn’t be shocking to learn that chlorine bleach and other chemicals are dangerous from an air quality standpoint, as well as with respect to water supplies.  Your best bet is to make your own cleaning products with safer ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.  If you’d prefer to purchase green products, there are a number of safer alternatives on the market.

There’s no need to get gas masks for the family!  Just be aware of these additional sources of indoor air pollution and take the necessary precautions.  You’ll all be breathing easier in no time.

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  1. Tara says:

    It’s so true and many times you don’t even realize it. Opening up the windows and letting the fresh air flow through also can do wonders! (As long as you don’t live next to a freeway or something.)

  2. Stephanie says:

    Right on! I love smelling fresh spring breezes through our home.

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