Many years ago, I was very surprised to learn that the air in my home could be many times more polluted and toxic than the air outdoors. Considering that the air outdoors is filled with things like car and truck exhaust, industrial emissions, and wood smoke, this was a rather shocking revelation. I was determined to find out what was polluting the air that I breathe every day, and what to do about it. Here is what I learned.
THREE MAJOR CAUSES OF INDOOR AIR POLLUTION
The most common types of flooring materials are big contributors to airborne toxins in your home. Carpets and vinyl tile or sheet flooring are made from PVC and other toxic plastics and their fumes will outgas for a very long time after their installation. You know that “new carpet smell” that takes forever to go away? Even when you can no longer detect the smell it is still releasing toxins into your environment for many years afterward.
Upholstered furniture is another common source. Until recently it was required by law that furniture with foam cushions and synthetic upholstery fabrics contain chemical flame retardants that have been linked to cancer, brain damage and a multitude of other conditions that nobody wants to think about. These chemicals do minimal good (it has been shown that they only delay flames by about one minute!) and an awful lot of harm. In the future, new furniture will be sold without chemical flame retardants, but anything that is already in your home has got them. Also, upholstery fabrics often contain a stain-repellent finish that has been banned for sale to the public due to its toxicity, but is still allowed to be used in furniture manufacturing. (I know, whaaat?)
3. Personal & Home Care Products
The third major cause of pollution is your products, both personal and household. Things like perfumes, hairspray and personal care products with a synthetic fragrance are releasing toxins into your indoor air. These fragrances contain phthalates, chemicals that are linked to asthma and allergies and are known to be endocrine disrupters, which means that they interfere with your body’s delicate balance of hormones. Scented household items like air fresheners (especially the plug-in type), scented candles, laundry detergents and cleaning products are all common culprits.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Replacing toxic items with non-toxic items is always the best solution, sometimes that can can be very expensive (although sometimes it can save you a ton of cash as well) and most people are understandably not willing to strip their home of all the things that they know and love.
1. Get a HEPA Air Filter
A good investment would be to purchase a HEPA air filter for your home, these filters trap airborne particles down to a microscopic size and make a tremendous improvement in air quality. You would also see less dust forming on your surfaces. The downside is that you either have to purchase a few of them to clean the air in your entire home, or regularly move the unit from room to room.
Here are a few HEPA Air Filters we found on Amazon.ca:
2. Re-Decorate or Renovate
When it comes to flooring, take up a hidden corner of your carpet or vinyl flooring and if you are very lucky, you may find hardwood flooring underneath. Wood and ceramic tile are the least toxic choices if you are going to replace your flooring. Also, since carpets outgas a lot when they are brand new and it tapers off over the years, if your carpeting is older you might decide it doesn’t look so bad after all and put off replacing it if you can. The same applies to furniture, older is better and furniture that is solid wood is best. Thrift stores, resale stores and even antique stores are good sources for furniture that has already outgassed most of its fumes.
3. Replace Personal & Home Products
Your personal and household products are the cheapest and easiest things to replace. Fortunately, there are non-toxic versions of everything you need available at your local health food store and online. I take great pride in making homemade versions of most of my products, and you will find easy recipes for that right here on this blog. Of course, you can always have Green Boutique take care of your non-toxic home cleaning for you!
For cleaning you can always replace Comet or Ajax with baking soda – Just as effective!
For disinfecting, use vinegar and tea tree oil – Powerful stuff!
For body moisturizer use coconut oil, almond oil or jojoba oil – Simply soft!
Check out our pinterest page for other DIY ideas of how to save money and reduce toxic air in your home.