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9 Tips for Reducing Indoor Air Pollution

Written by Dr. Edward Group Founder
An open window creates circulation that can help reduce indoor air pollution.

Just as you drink pure water, isn't it vital to ensure the air you breath is also clean and pure? Everyone can benefit from breathing cleaner air, and many people suffer horribly because of air pollution. It's common for people to spend 75% of their time in their home and the sources of air pollution in a home can be many.

Air pollution can happen during immediate emergency situations, such as a gas leak. It can also be slow, chronic, and less apparent; as with out-gassing of paints, fabrics, and upholstery. There are also biological toxins such as dust mites, pet dander, mold and mildew.

The variation in chemicals and pollutants can produce a range of effects. For some people, these pollutants bring on headaches, others experience sinus congestion or coughing, and allergic rhinitis is not unheard of. Arguably, most "elevated" attacks are the result of exposure to multiple pollutants all at once, as may happen when painting in a non-ventilated room. But what about the allergies and asthma and other respiratory ailments that are exacerbated by constant exposure to air pollutants?

The Argument for Ventilation

Open your windows! Creating circulation is so important. The recent emphasis on energy conservation has caused homes to be constructed in an air-tight, sealed way; this traps pollutants right in your home. Ventilation can help remove the pollution. [1] The Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute in New Jersey studied indoor air pollution and lung function and their conclusions directly cited improved ventilation as a means to reduce harmful effects of indoor air pollution. [2]

Tips to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home

Have your HVAC system cleaned regularly. Effectiveness of HVAC duct cleaning procedures in improving indoor air quality was examined by Florida International University in Miami; evidence suggested cleaning the system was beneficial. [3]

Replace toxic or chemical-based cleaning products with natural, organic alternatives. There are options available and most appropriate stores carry at least a few of them. Or, make your own- vinegar and baking soda works great on drains. [4]

house plant

Avoid the fragrant, aerosol spray cans. Instead, use essential oils with a diffuser. Lavender, lemongrass, and tea-tree or orange-blossom oil work great and don't contain any air-polluting chemicals. You can also dilute oils in distilled water and use with a spray bottle for a chemical-free home or office spray.

Plants are natural air purifiers and great home decor. A study from NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America found that plants suck in toxic chemicals through their leaves, and the roots and soil bacteria remove trace levels of toxic vapors.

As your budget allows, when replacing larger items, begin switching over to chemical-free, non-toxic furniture and bedding. Buy natural wooden furniture, not particleboard.

The Quick and Easy

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • To discourage mold and mildew, keep humidity levels low.
  • Regularly check your fuel-burning appliances for leaks.
  • Invest in a quality indoor air purifier, air filtration is one of the most feasible methods to improve IAQ. [5]

Enjoy the Cumulative Benefits of Breathing Clean Air

Breathing cleaner air isn't just for folks with asthma, allergies, or children. As much as doing it for the kids warms the cockles of our hearts, the fact is that we ALL can benefit from breathing cleaner air, especially over the long term; research proves it. A Brazilian study evaluated situations where ventilation had been in place for greater than 20 years; researchers found that the long term air-conditioning offered a protective effect against building-related worsening of respiratory symptoms. [6]

References (6)
  1. White LE, Clarkson JR, Chang SN. Health effects from indoor air pollution: case studies. J Community Health. 1987 Summer-Fall;12(2-3):147-55.
  2. Roy A, Chapman RS, Hu W, Wei F, Liu X, Zhang J. Indoor air pollution and lung function growth among children in four Chinese cities. Indoor Air. 2012 Feb;22(1):3-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2011.00748.x. Epub 2011 Oct 24.
  3. Ahmad I, Tansel B, Mitrani JD. Effectiveness of HVAC duct cleaning procedures in improving indoor air quality. Environ Monit Assess. 2001 Dec;72(3):265-76.
  4. Rafuse J. New CMHC guide offers suggestions for improving indoor air quality. CMAJ. 1994 Mar 1;150(5):764-5.
  5. Candiani G, Del Curto B, Cigada A. Improving indoor air quality by using the new generation of corrugated cardboard-based filters. J Appl Biomater Funct Mater. 2012 Sep 27;10(2):157-62. doi: 10.5301/JABFM.2012.9705.
  6. Graudenz GS, Kalil J, Saldiva PH, Latorre Md Mdo R, Morato-Castro FF. Decreased respiratory symptoms after intervention in artificially ventilated offices in São Paulo, Brazil. Chest. 2004 Jan;125(1):326-9.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

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