10 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home- Naturally
written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 2/16/2010
Common household products off-gas VOCs and other fumes that contribute to indoor air pollution. Here are 10 easy ways to improve the quality of the air in your home.
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Many items in our homes emit trace amounts of harmful chemicals into indoor air. Today's homes are so well insulated that airborne toxins can accumulate to levels that can cause negative health effects. To improve the air quality of your living space, follow the suggestions below.
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10 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality
1. Make Sure Your Home is Well Ventilated
Modern homes are built to be well insulated, but may not be well ventilated. Insulation technology has improved so that our homes may be virtually air-tight in the name of maintaining indoor air temperatures. However, air-tight homes often exhibit high levels of air pollutants. Formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) get trapped in indoor air and can accumulate to harmful levels. Check to see if your home has a built-in ventilation system. If it doesn't, install vents in the walls of your home - or, at least remember to open the windows frequently.
2. Choose Hardwood Over Carpet
You know that new carpet smell? That is a concoction of synthetic chemicals off-gassing into the air of your home, including VOCs such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and other chemicals of concern to the EPA. Older carpets can be filled with dust, mites, and traces of pesticides tracked in on shoes.
For a healthier floor covering, choose a hardwood or bamboo flooring finished with low- or no-VOC sealers. Other healthy options include cork tiles or real linoleum. If you must have carpet, be sure it's green label certified.
3. Buy Solid Wood Furniture
Any item made from pressed-wood or plywood boards contains adhesives that off-gas VOCs. Choose furnishings, like bookshelves, desks, and tables, made of solid wood, preferably with a low-VOC finish.
4. Use Low-VOC Paints or Natural Paints
Conventional interior paint contains VOCs that emit into the air long after the paint is dry. Many paints are now offered in low-VOC or no-VOC formulas, including eco-friendly lines from major paint companies. Natural paints are VOC-free and made from natural materials, such as milk protein.
5. Minimize Use of Plywood
If you are planning to build a new home and want to minimize indoor air pollution, use as little plywood and pressed-wood products as possible. Instead, choose solid wood, concrete, metal, stone, and other more natural building materials.
6. Let Houseplants Clean the Air
Several common varieties of houseplants have been shown to remove harmful chemicals from indoor air, including formaldehyde and other VOCs. There are a number of common houseplants that purify the air such as bamboo, english ivy, spider plants and more.
7. Get Rid of Vinyl
Are your mini-blinds and shower curtain made of vinyl? Choose metal mini-blinds and a cloth shower curtain instead to eliminate chemicals emitted from vinyl products. If you are replacing your windows, choose wood-cased windows instead of vinyl-cased windows, if possible.
8. Use Natural Cleaning Products
Don't spray toxic chemicals in your air at home! If a household cleaner smells harsh, it is. Purchase all-natural cleaners, or make your own out of ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon.
9. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
A carbon monoxide detector alerts you when CO2 levels are in a dangerous range. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove in your home, a carbon monoxide detector is a must. CO2 can accumulate indoors and cause life-threatening health problems. Smoking tobacco products indoors contributes to CO2 levels and releases many other toxins in the air.
10. Use an Air Purifier
If you feel your home has a problem with indoor air pollution, follow the suggestions above and, if necessary, invest in an air purifier. Research air purifiers before you buy, paying attention to how the unit works and customer reviews. Go to www.airpurifierbuyingguide.com to begin your research.