The air in our homes, schools and offices can be 2 to 5 times more polluted, and in some cases 100 times more polluted, than outdoor air. For obvious reasons, winter is the worst time of year for indoor air pollution problems. There are several simple steps you can take to minimize indoor air pollution in your home.
Try and keep things out of your home that cause pollution like cigarette smoke, toxic cleaning products, paints, commercial room fresheners, even dry cleaning. Synthetic carpets, scotch-guarded fabrics, foam bedding and vinyl shower curtains outgas certain chemicals. (You can now buy non-toxic shower curtain liners – see blog post “Is Your Shower Curtain Toxic?“) When you can, make the switch to 100% cotton, wool or other natural fabric for rugs and upholstery. Make sure you have proper ventilation and a good exhaust system for your stove and appliances. Control moisture in your home using a dehumidifier when necessary. Many people remove their shoes before entering the home to avoid tracking in dust, dirt and outdoor chemicals. Using a HEPA air filter traps pollutants as well. And one of the most obvious ways to get rid of indoor air pollution, which we don’t usually think about on cold winter days, is airing out our houses. A few minutes a day make a big difference.
Houseplants are also very effective (and beautiful) air cleaners. All plants give off oxygen and filter carbon dioxide, but some plants actually absorb toxins as well, according to the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) the nation’s largest lawn, landscape, and interiorscape association. Listed below are several common houseplants, which are good pollution fighters and are fairly easy to care for.
- Spider plants (absorb carbon monoxide)
- Peace Lilies (remove acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde),
- Ficus trees
- Aloe Vera (sucks formaldehyde from the air)
- Corn Plants (purify benzene and cigarette smoke)
- Dwarf Date Palms (negate harmful effects from xylene found in paints)
- Herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, mint, geranium)
Don’t forget your office needs a toxic trapper too! Plants not only create a healthier indoor environment, but also add beauty and peace to your day.
Information compiled from PLANET, GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, and Natural Health Magazine, July/August 2010.