How To Maintain Healthy Air Quality In The Home

Karin Carr, Owner
Published on June 29, 2020

We have been cautioned against going outside and “staying home” or “sheltering in place” for the previous few months in order to protect ourselves and our families from the COVID-19 virus.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder found that by doing so, we put ourselves in danger of being exposed to common indoor pollutants that may have a concentration that is equivalent to that of a “polluted big metropolis.”

According to the assistant professor of mechanical engineering who led the study, Marina Vance, “even the basic process of cooking toast produced particle levels significantly higher than expected.”

Many indoor pollutants are odorless and colorless, but they can nevertheless cause symptoms similar to those of allergies, nausea, migraines, and even cancer in certain people.

You will be relieved to know that there are actions you can do to reduce the number of pollutants that are present in the air in your home.

First, let’s take a look at that elephant in the room

NASA and The Associated Landscape Contractors of America, which is now known as The National Association of Landscape Professionals, worked together on a research a few decades ago to investigate the possibility that indoor plants could purify the air.

The finding, which said that plants were “a potential, cheap remedy to indoor air pollution,” was enthusiastically picked up by the media, which then perverted it into the delusion that we currently live with.

The answer is yes; plants have the potential to rid the air of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which include the fumes released by paint, carpets, drywall, and other building materials.

However, this can only be done in a completely airtight environment, such as a laboratory or a space station.

How To Maintain Healthy Air Quality In The Home

The aesthetic value of houseplants is greater than their ability to purify the air because modern homes are not airtight.

In spite of what you may have read on the blog of your favorite online plant retailer, rubber plants do not “filter formaldehyde” from indoor air, and pothos will not remove benzene from the air in your home even if you grow them in a large enough quantity.

There is other information regarding this study that has been refuted can be found on NationalGeographic.com, Newsweek.com, and ScienceDaily.com.

How does this stuff get into our homes?

Indoor pollutants have a number of ways of entering our homes. “Some are carried in on the breeze; some are carried in, unwittingly, by you,” according to Mary H.J. Farrell at ConsumerReports.org.

Carpet, furniture, and other upholstered items emit pollutants. Even the paint on the walls may be a contributor. The list also includes:

  • Cleaning and personal care products
  • Central heating and cooling systems
  • Smoking in the home
  • Cabinetry or furniture made of “certain pressed wood products” (EPA)
  • Carbon monoxide fumes from an attached garage

For a more complete list, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency online at EPA.gov.

Improve your indoor air

Knowing that the air inside your home is polluted is frightening, but, as mentioned earlier, there are steps you can take to improve your air quality. These include:

  • Keeping dust to a minimum.
  • Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Mopping floors with non-toxic cleaners.
  • Have everyone remove their shoes before entering the home.
  • Routinely replace the HVAC filters in the home.
  • Maintain the air conditioning unit to help lower the amount of pollen that enters the home.
  • Ensure the home is well-ventilated while cooking, cleaning with chemicals, and using a hobby or personal products.

The EPA’s website offers additional, in-depth information on how to lessen the negative health impacts of polluted air in the home (información disponible en español).

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