When we think of air pollution we typically think of smog-filled cities, factories belching out toxic plumes or even just people in heavily populated cities wearing face masks to filter the air. But what if I told you that the air inside some of our homes is right up there with some of the more polluted cities.

Indoor air pollution has been ranked by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the top five risks to public health, but what does this mean exactly and what can we do to improve the quality of air inside our homes and offices?

In this post I’ll share why we should be concerned about indoor air quality and what you can do to improve the quality of the air you breathe inside your home or workspace.

 

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What Is Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor Air Pollution is a term that simply refers to the deteriorating quality of air inside a dwelling such as a home or office.

In recent decades our buildings have become increasingly sealed from the external environment and this has impacted the quality of air within the structure. Without adequate ventilation and flow of air through the building, toxins released from indoor sources are being detected at higher concentrations than ever before.

Teamed with the fact that we’re typically spending 90% of our time indoors, it’s no surprise that many of us may be breathing in a chemical cocktail on a daily basis.

What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

Gas cookers and unflued gas heaters are the main contributors to poor indoor quality, however the following also have a considerable impact:

  • Biologicals such as mould and dust mites.
  • Brominated flame retardants (e.g. polybrominated diphenyl ethers) from plastics, electronics and textiles.
  • Perfluorinated compounds from consumer products and packaging, and
  • Formaldehydes and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCS) emitted from paints, furniture, and chemical cleaning products.

Poor indoor air quality can significantly impact people with allergies or asthma. Young children and pets are also particularly susceptible.

How Can Indoor Air Quality Be Improved…. Naturally?

In addition to ensuring your gas heater and cooling appliances are serviced regularly, the following actions will improve the air quality inside your home:

1) Improve Ventilation

Indoor air quality can be dramatically improved by increasing your home’s ventilation or by purging your home each day. Purging simply involves opening the windows and allowing natural air flow through your home. Of course if you live next to a busy motorway I wouldn’t recommend doing this during peak hour, however a decent flow through of air will definitely help reduce the build-up of stale air inside your home.

2) Remove Toxins With Indoor Plants

Plants have long been used inside buildings to clean the air naturally. Indoor plants such as the Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) and Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures) are effective in absorbing benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene from the air. They also look great and make your home more liveable.

3) Purify Your Air With Essential Oils Rather Than Synthetic Fragrances

Diffusing oils such as Young Living Thieves or Purification blends in your home will improve the air quality. Thieves Oil, in particular, kills airborne mould spores, bacteria and viruses. You can purchase Young Living Essential Oils here, using these instructions.

Note that household air fresheners, both the spray can varieties as well as those that plug into a powerpoint, typically use synthetic fragrances which add to the volume and concentration of chemicals in air.

4) Replace Chemical Cleaners With Natural Alternatives

Opt for safe, natural cleaning and pest control products rather than commercial alternatives. For guidance and support to say good-bye to chemicals found in products like floor cleaners, carpet deodorizers, furniture polishes, window cleaners and more, join my Home Detox Boot Camp.

5) Reduce Household Dust Levels Inside Your Home

It’s been estimated that 10% of the population and about 80% of asthmatic children are allergic to dust mites.. For this reason alone it pays to take active measures to reduce household dust such as keeping pets outside (or at the very least keeping them out of your bedrooms) and leaving your shoes at the door.

Where To From Here?

 

Improving your indoor air quality is just one of the many areas to tackle when creating a safe, healthy home that’s free of nasty toxins.

For guidance and advice to help you create a cleaner, greener and healthier home, check out my Home Detox Boot Camp.

Doors are now open for the final round of 2016!

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Laura

Laura Trotta is one of Australia’s leading home sustainability experts. Fusing her professional expertise as an environmental engineer with the down-to-earth pragmatism that comes from being a busy mum, Laura is an eco thought leader who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo.
Laura