How bad is indoor air pollution in the winter, really? According to some people, it can be pretty bad – as in worse than the pollution in the air outdoors. Think of outdoor air as the baseline, and imagine that everything that’s offgassing or putting out emissions in your home is adding to that. Then add to that the fact that in the battle of the wintertime drafts, we’re blocking out incoming fresh air, aka drafts.
So where’s all this indoor air pollution coming from? Cigarettes, if you’re a smoker. And incense, candles, and cooking. Consumer products releasing formaldehyde fumes and other aldehydes into the air. And sometimes even mold, if you like to keep things moist. Among other things.
None of us in cold weather climates is exempt, so it’s pretty important that we look into ways of cleaning our indoor air when we’re spending so much time breathing it in! Here are five ways to improve indoor air quality in your home for the remainder of this long, chilly winter:
1. When you have a choice, stick to VOC-free paint and organic mattresses and air-friendly, natural versions of things that tend to release nasty gasses in synthetic form. That means rugs and couches and plastic products.
2. Make sure your exhaust fans actually vent out of doors – the air in kitchens and bathrooms can get pretty moist, and that can lead to a buildup of mold. If your fans don’t vent to the outside, consider buying a small dehumidifier if your home tends to retain moisture.
3. Quit smoking! It’s not just bad for the air, it’s also bad for you. Can’t fathom quitting? Then brave the cold and light up outside where the secondhand smoke can dissipate instead of lingering in the air.
4. Make sure combustion appliances, like gas stoves, fireplaces, boilers, and furnaces are working at peak efficiency. That means changing filters, getting regular maintenance done, and keeping appliances clean.
5. Speaking of cleaning, damp dusting and vacuuming – especially with a specialized HEPA filters can go a long way toward clearing the air of allergens and particulates that settle and are disturbed, settle and are disturbed. For keeping air clean, stick to homemade cleansers like these.
BONUS TIP: Hang some houseplants!
In 1984, NASA senior research scientist Dr. Bill Wolverton tested houseplants for their ability to maintain clean air for future habitable lunar bases. Testing in sealed chambers, Wolverton found that philodendrons and golden pothos were excellent formaldehyde controllers; gerbera daisy and chrysanthemums were impressive benzene purgers; pot mums and peace lilies were highly rated for TCE removal. His initial findings suggested that one to three mature plants were enough to improve the air in a 100-cubic-foot area. He also found that it wasn’t just plants doing the clean-up work, but the microbes that were specific to the plants’ roots. Another 1989 NASA study concluded that tested houseplants removed up to 87 percent of toxic indoor air within 24 hours.
P.S. – Yours truly recently posted over at Manolo for the Brides about sustainable wedding trends! If you’re engaged or weddings are just one of your favorite things, check it out.