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Michelle Warner

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Monday Morsel ~ Fresh Air

Posted on November 1st, 2010

sometimes random.
sometimes deep.
just a little something
to begin your week.


As I’ve been researching many different aspects of healthy living, one of the subjects that I keep reading about is indoor air pollution. I was surprised to read: “…The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) estimates that the average person receives 72 percent of their chemical exposure at home, which means the very places most people consider safest paradoxically expose them to the greatest amounts of potentially hazardous pollutants.” The side effects from being exposed to such air pollutants can range from eye irritation to headaches to asthma to even cancer.

Desiring to know what I could to combat these pollutants, I studied up on how to keep the air inside my home fresh. Here are many suggestions I found:

  • Invest in plants to clean the air. (It is suggested to have one plant for every 30 square feet. The most effective plants in counteracting chemicals inside are found here.)
  • Keep floors clean. (One of the best ways to do this is to remove shoes worn outside prior to walking through your home.)
  • Circulate the air. (Open windows as much as possible for ventilation, even if it is only for a few minutes in the winter.)
  • Dust regularly (to keep away dust mites).
  • Wash bedding in hot water once a month. (This practice also keeps away dust mites.)
  • Eliminate synthetic fragrances like candles and air freshners. (This is crucial. I plan to write a more detailed Monday Morsel on this topic soon.)
  • Air out dry cleaning before hanging it in the closet.
  • Observe places mold grows in your home. (A common recommendation is to use a dehumidifier in damp areas to eliminate mold’s growth.)
  • Carefully choose pesticides for rodents and insects used inside the home.
  • Use low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) products. (More on this in a future Morsel too.)
  • Eliminate tobacco smoke inside the home.
  • Check (and replace) air and furnace filters every two months.
  • Invest in HEPA air filters for rooms. (Make sure you look at the reviews before purchasing an air filter.)

Implementing a few of these suggestions should improve your home’s air quality. I have begun making these changes including adding a plant to each room in my house. Now if I can only remember to water them!

For more information:

An article written by Eco-consultant Laurie Mitroff about air pollutants:

How to improve your indoor air quality while trying to keep OUT the pollens that are making your eyes itch and nose twitch…

Our local pollen counts are higher than ever!  Given that the advice is to keep the windows closed and the house tightly shut when suffering from outdoor allergies, it’s important to take the proper steps to ensure that your indoor air quality is as safe as possible.  Unfortunately, the average home can contain air that is more toxic than a smog-filled city! Let’s look at some of the most common air pollutants:

Toxic household cleaning products: The EPA has declared indoor air quality as one of the top 5 human health hazards, and household cleaners top their list of indoor pollutants. Unbeknownst to most, manufacturers are simply NOT REQUIRED by law to disclose the chemicals contained in the products.  Children are especially vulnerable to chemical fumes because proportionally, kids drink more, eat more, and breathe more than the average adult.     Children hang out close to the ground, which is where many chemicals introduced by cleaning products settle.  They play on the floor and put everything in their mouth.  The solution:  Buy “green” cleaning products, preferably from the organic or “natural” section of the grocery store. Many products are “green-washed”, meaning they are marketed as safe but they indeed are not.

Chemical air fresheners and candles: Most air fresheners and candle fragrances sold at your local grocery or drug store are laden with chemicals.  Anytime you see the ingredient simply listed as “fragrance”, it is typically a cocktail of different petrochemicals, all artificially derived to smell fresh or fruity.    The solution:  Look for products scented with natural essential oils and candles made from soy. A safe way to remove odors from an area in the home is to use good old-fashioned baking soda or a carbon-based absorber.

Dangerous Dust: This actually surprises most people, but dust isn’t what it used to be.  Today it contains phthlates and flame retardant particles emitted from foam, vinyl, and electronic equipment that roam around and attach themselves to dust, which is then inhaled by your family.   The solution:  Ditch the vinyl shower curtains and rubber ducks.  Dust frequently – use a static-charged wipe or a damp cloth that is rinsed out frequently. Vacuum regularly and change your air filters frequently.

For families with severe asthma, allergies, compromised immune systems, or chemical sensitivities, FILTER YOUR AIR!  The right air purifier can make a world of difference. Look for one that can handle both chemical and biological contaminants.  You can also naturally filter your air with houseplants. Ficus and aloe vera remove certain off-gases like formaldehyde and benzene. Spider plants and peace lilies remove carbon dioxide.

Your family’s health is greatly affected by the quality of the air they breathe. So take the information above, and evaluate your home. You’ll find some easy steps you can take that will help you breathe easier. For a free Guide to Indoor Air Quality, email

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