How to Combat Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution is a major cause of allergy and respiratory issues. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend nearly 90% of their time indoors. With a number this staggering, it's important that we understand how we contribute to indoor air pollution in our homes and how to combat it. Here are a few steps you can take to help clean the air inside your home or office.

Step 1 - Tobacco

Approximately 23% of Americans smoke tobacco according to a Gallup poll conducted in early 2008. Tobacco smoke is one of the biggest causes of indoor air pollution. The smoke can contain noxious compounds such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde.

If you are a smoker, you can help clear the air by smoking outside only. If you choose to smoke indoors, limit it to an area with access to an open window and use an air purifier.

Step 2 - Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are another leading cause of indoor air pollution. You can use dehumidifiers to lower the moisture level, inhibiting the growth of fungus. Make sure your rooms, especially bathrooms, are well-ventilated to ensure moisture won't build up. Use exhaust fans in kitchens to help prevent problems in that area. Clothes dryers should always be well-vented outdoors too.

Step 3 - Cleaning Products

Believe it or not, the very products you use to keep your home clean can cause indoor air pollution. Caustic chemicals can release harmful toxins that cause respiratory distress into the air. Be mindful of the products you are using. Even items such as hairspray and air fresheners can release volatile organic compounds into your home.

Limit your use of things like pesticides, solvents, and harsh cleaning agents. Always use them in a well-ventilated area if you must use them. Try to find alternative, organic methods to clean your home.

Step 4 - Eliminate VOC-Emitting Substances

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, can be found in many things around your home. They emit toxins into the air that can cause respiratory problems, skin and eye irritations and many other issues. These can be found in vinyl shower curtains, pressed board furniture and paint. Instead of using traditional paint, look for low or no VOC paints. You can use cloth shower curtains and launder them every week, and keep an eye out for new rugs that contain VOCs.

Step 5 - Utilize Houseplants

Houseplants are a great way to help clear the air in your home. Since plants will take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, just having them in your home will help. There are specific plants that will increase the health of your air though.

  • Philodendron are easy to grow plants that love to climb. They have been shown to remove formaldehyde from the air.
  • Golden Pothos will do the same thing.
  • Spider plants are another popular choice.

There are plenty of simple things you can do to clear the air in your home or office. Most of these steps won't cost much money and when you follow them, you'll feel much healthier for making these simple changes.