Improving Your In-Home Air Quality

The air quality inside your home may currently be of little concern to you, especially when you consider all of the toxins (exhaust, chemicals, pesticides, etc.) that we must contend with in the outside world. But if you knew about the dangers of the many airborne pollutants that lurk inside your house, you would likely be just as concerned (if not more so) with the air you breathe in the comfort of your own home. Fortunately, a knowledge of dangerous inhalants that reside on the inside of a structure can help you to clear the air (literally) and ensure that the oxygen your pull into your lungs is as clean and healthy as possible (at least until you walk out the door).

To begin with, you should consider any products that require you to spray. This list can be quite extensive, but addressing the issue on a room-by-room basis can help to narrow it down. Beginning with the bathroom, you should consider parting ways with any aerosols (alas, poor Aquanet, we knew you well) since it has pretty much become common knowledge that they’re contributing to global warming (and some really heinous helmet-hair). In fact, you might want to ditch hairspray altogether (there have been some marvelous advances in creams, gels, and mousse in the last thirty years, you know). Other items to consider tossing are spray foundations, deodorants, and perfumes. Most have liquid or solid alternatives. And keep in mind that each scented spritz leaves airborne particles that you inhale.

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A quick jump to the kitchen, laundry room, or wherever you keep your cleaning supplies should come next. Chemical cleaners are a major source of adult-onset asthma as well as some other serious respiratory illnesses, so consider tossing the whole lot and switching to all natural cleaning solvents from eco-friendly companies like 7th Generation or Simple Green. And lose the air fresheners. Opt for naturally scented soy candles or homemade flower sachets to scent the air without aerosol.

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Another area of consideration when it comes to air quality is gas. Natural gas can generally be found in the furnace and oven, so you’ll want to make sure they’ve got proper ventilation (and keep a CO2 meter near potential hazards to alert you when carbon monoxide levels are getting dangerous). You should also check regularly for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into your home through the ground. It is colorless and unlike natural gas, odorless, so you’ll either need a service technician or some specialized equipment to check for its presence in your home.

Finally, you’ll want to remove common allergens such as dust, dander, bacteria, and smoke. Mainly, this can be done by cleaning regularly and removing potential offenders (relegate animals to the backyard and smokers to the porch). But if you’re really gung ho about keeping your air clean, you can opt to install air purifiers with hepa filters to ensure that you’re trapping as many potential allergens as possible. And in the long run, a home free of harmful chemicals, gases, and allergens will improve your lung function and leave you feeling better than you could have imagined.

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