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Indoor Air Pollution – Improve Indoor Air Quality, Naturally

Updated on July 19, 2014

How Bad is Indoor Air Quality?

According the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, where indoor air pollution levels are 2-5 times higher than air pollution levels outdoors.

Volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s, are responsible for most indoor air pollution.

VOC’s are chemicals based on carbon that evaporate easily at room temperature, a process known as “off gassing.” Some VOC’s, such as benzene and formaldehyde are known human carcinogens and others such as perchloroethylene and methyl chloride cause cancer in animals.

This sounds harmless enough until you realize that these chemicals enter our homes and offices through many common household (and office) furnishings, equipment and cleaners.

VOC's Indoors

Benzene is a known human carcinogen that enters our homes through products such as glue, paint, furniture wax and detergents.

Formaldehyde is perhaps the most common volatile organic compound to pollute our indoor air. It is used as a preservative in food, antibacterial in cosmetics, household cleaners, and in the glues used to make particleboard and plywood, and carpets.

Perchloroethylene is the main chemical used in dry cleaning. It is also found in shoe polishes, adhesives and wood cleaners.

Methyl chloride is found in paint strippers and aerosol spray paints.

Reviewing the information at Toxtown about the source and effect of these and many other chemicals highlights how big a problem indoor air pollution really is to our health and wellbeing.

Fortunately, we only need look as far back as a generation or two to learn how to improve our indoor air pollution problems.

Improve Indoor Air Quality, Naturally!

Eliminate

The first thing you should consider is eliminating the sources of indoor air pollution.

Many of the toxic household cleaners that cause much indoor air pollution didn’t exist in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Today green cleaning products are enjoying resurgence as sustainable businesses cash in on the Going Green movement. But basic cleaning products that clean as efficiently as the chemical cleansers we think we can’t do without have always been part of our pantry. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice are surprisingly effective cleaners that don’t pollute your indoor (or outdoor!) environment.

Ventilate

Eliminating all sources of indoor air pollution will be impossible. If the air outside is cleaner than the air indoors, there is one obvious thing you can do to flush away those VOC’s and indoor air pollution. Ventilate! Open the windows and doors, and run indoor ceiling fans to keep air flowing through your home.

Filtrate

Opening those windows and doors in the middle of winter is doable, but can be a challenge. Another way to improve indoor air quality is to bring the outdoors indoors with plants.

According to NASA studies intended to find oxygen-producing methods for living in space, plants also remove harmful VOC’s from the air. Gerberas, Chrysanthemums, Spider Plants and ivy are just a few plants shown to be efficient air cleaners.

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    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 

      6 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Green housekeeper--I hope we get a truely green housecleaning service like that in my neighborhood! (Minneapolis). Best of luck to you and thank you for forging new territory (I know it's not easy).

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Carly Wyatt 

      6 years ago

      It's nice to see services like yours coming into the market!

    • profile image

      green housekeeper los angeles 

      6 years ago

      Dish soaps are not such a big offender, but spray cleaners certainly are. When you come home after the housekeeper has set off an atomic bomb of sorts with that pine cleaner or the tub and kitchen cleansers full of carcinogenic chemicals. A lot of people don't know just what that chemical smell really means for their health.

      We are a los angeles area green housekeeper service that utilizes our own products and other commercially available products to maintain healthy air quality with non-scented and custom scented items that our customers love. We provide thorough, non-toxic cleaning at affordable prices with products that won't contribute to indoor air pollution. See our blog for more: http://littlepiggiesgreencleaning.blogspot.com/

      and http://www.lpgreenclean.com for services we offer

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