Indoor air pollutants are a real BIG problem in homes today, but you can make a lot of little changes that have a big impact. According to Walter Crinnion of Clean, Green, and Lean: Get Rid of the Toxins That Make You Fat, the biggest indoor air pollutants are combustion by-products (things like fireplaces, smoking, furnaces), solvents (like perfumes, scented products, paint, glue, carpeting, cleaning products), dust and particles (pet dander, molds, pesticides and building chemicals). Because some of these toxins require more intervention than others, I want to focus on the easiest things you can do RIGHT NOW in your home!
Ditch the air fresheners
Cleaning indoor air is a game of baby steps-- and the first thing you can do is get the nasty stuff out of your home ASAP! There are no "SAFE" commercial air fresheners. According to the Environmental Working Group, “A few companies provide ingredient lists on their website in response to consumer demand, but the word “fragrance” may hide dozens of chemicals, many of which may never have been assessed for safety.” If you don't even have control over knowing what's in a product, that's a huge red flag that you don't want it in your home. Additionally, according to the EPA, Air Fresheners commonly contain formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p- dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants. These chemicals are strong irritants to eyes, skin, and throat, and can even cause death if eaten by pets or people! So ditch your Febreze spray, chemically scented candles, and Glade plugins without batting an eyelash! Don't worry-- your house can smell yummy with the replacement suggestions below!
- Use an essential oil home diffuser that comes in the 'Premium Starter Kit' for scenting the home or dispelling household odors in a natural way! <--- this is my personal favorite!
- DIY Reed diffuser: All you need is a diffusing vessel, reed sticks, carrier oil and about 20-30 drops of high quality essential oil.
- Freshening spray: Add about 20-40 drops of your favorite essential oil to a spray bottle for an instant freshening spray for laundry or household odors. I love using Purification essential oil for trash bins, laundry and shoes!
Indoor plants as air filters-- a game changer
According to this NASA study that focused on some of the most common indoor chemical pollutants (benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene), indoor plants made a significant chemical reduction, especially when it came to benzene and formaldehyde. According to the study, "this suggests that the plant roots and their associated microorganisms are the major pathway for chemical removal" and "these results indicate that plants can play a major role in removal of organic chemicals from indoor air."
Invest in a few indoor plants. My top indoor plants are:
- Peace Lily: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.
- Snake Plant: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.
- Aloe Vera Plant: filters benzene and formaldahyde.
- English Ivy: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.
- Florist's Daisy/Pot Mum: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.
- Mass Cane: filters benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
- Gerbera Daisy: filters benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
- Weeping Fig: filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
PS-- if you don't have a green thumb, I highly recommend indoor plants that are more resilient and harder to kill like aloe vera plants, peace lilies, and snake plants. Especially if you have more of a brown thumb like me!
Other air quality factors to consider
- Make your home shoe-free by taking off your shoes as soon as you get home
- Buy unscented laundry detergent or make your own
- Avoid dry cleaning or choose an organic dry cleaner
- Get rid of carpet in your home (it's a holding tank for home toxins!)
- Invest in a chlorine filter for your shower and water filter for your kitchen
- Have mold growth in your home addressed by a professional
- Choose no or low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints
- Avoid press board/particle board furniture and instead buy real wood furniture
- Consider installing air filters into your heating system
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Do you use indoor plants or natural air fresheners to detoxify the air in your home and act as natural air filters? Please share in the comments!