According to the EPA, indoor air quality (also known as IAQ) is anywhere from two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. The amount of volatile organic compounds in the home can be as much as ten times more than what is found outdoors, even in areas of relatively heavy pollution. Why is indoor air pollution so bad? Because there are so many contributing factors, from synthetic shower curtains to mold. Learning how to improve the quality of the air in your home is a great way to make your home environment safe, healthy, and more environmentally-friendly.
Remove Contaminates from Purified Air
The most effective way is to address the source. As a whole, this is an overwhelming and almost impossible task, yet simple measures can be taken to at least reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants in your home.
- Switch to natural household cleaners. There are many effective plant-based products on the market, such as Earth’s Best, or make homemade natural cleaning supplies.
- Take shoes off when entering the home, and place a doormat at the entrance. Pesticides, lead, synthetic lawn fertilizers, and other contaminants can all be brought into the home on a pair of shoes.
- Vacuum and dust regularly.
- Make sure insulation materials are well-sealed. Fiberglass insulation is one of the most frequently used materials. As it emits VOC’s it is important to make sure walls are well-sealed to protect the indoor air quality.
- Don’t smoke in the house. If smoking, keep it outside to prevent a build-up of toxins in your home.
- Start using natural fibers for bedding and household linens. Conventional cotton and synthetic fabrics emit plenty of airborne contaminants.
- Replace synthetic carpeting with hardwood flooring or other natural options.
- Replace synthetic furniture with natural products.
Houseplants are ideal for improving air quality. Their presence acts to naturally and efficiently replace contaminated air with pure, nurturing oxygen. They reduce the number of airborne chemicals and VOCs and absorb carbon dioxide. Houseplants also help to manage healthy humidity levels. Two small plants or one medium-sized plant can act as a natural air purifier for every one hundred square feet in the home.
Increase Ventilation and Reduce VOCs with Open Windows
Another simple, cost-effective way to reduce indoor air pollution is to increase ventilation. When weather permits, open the windows so stale air can circulate, and indoor pollutants can be replaced with fresher outdoor air. For optimal airflow, open windows on opposite sides of a room or area. Ceiling fans are also beneficial, as well as air conditioners with ventilation control.
Using Air Purifiers
Using air purifiers is another way to help improve with minimal effort. An energy efficient Energy Star model is the best choice for maintaining a green, healthy home. They do cost money upfront, but they are highly effective, and even crucial for people who have allergies, asthma, and other chronic respiratory illnesses. Also, in cold climates where natural air ventilation is not practical, a combination of house plants and air purifiers may be the easiest route to purified air.
While some of these measures may be expensive and difficult, they can be done over time. Start with simple changes, such as getting rid of vinyl shower curtains and adding a few small houseplants to the home. Larger changes such as buying green mattresses and indoor air purifiers can happen over time. Learning how to improve and transforming the house into a green home is a gradual process. Be patient, and enjoy the socially-conscious, eco-friendly, healthy air.