When we think about air pollutants, we typically imagine a smog or smoke billowing from a factory. There are many sources of air pollutants, such as pesticides, industrial processes, and greenhouse gases, to consider. We don’t often think about air pollution in our own homes, but according to the EPA, the indoor pollutant levels in many homes may be up to five times higher than outdoors. One of the leading causes of indoor pollution is household products that contain toxic contaminants. In this article, we will look at five of the most common products that degrade your indoor air quality (IAQ) and how you can fix these problems.
- Household Cleaning Products
Many household cleaning products are made with harsh chemicals that contain harmful contaminants. The primary cause for concern should be scented products, they may make your home smell nice and fresh, but they are a hazard. Scented bleaches and other cleaners release airborne particulates that can lower the quality of IAQ in your home. Some cleaning products contain caustic chemicals that can burn your skin, harm your lungs, and damage your drains and plumbing pipes. It’s a better idea to choose environmentally friendly products that don’t contain harsh chemicals. An alternative approach is to make your own cleaning products using spring water, baking soda, and vinegar. Many people post their favorite cleaning concoctions online, and most of them have plenty of cleaning power.
- Fresh Paint
Most paint products contain chemicals that you don’t want to breathe, and it’s always a great idea to ventilate any area where you’re painting. But, many people don’t know that paint can emit volatile organic compound (VOC) gases wherever it’s stored. So if you have lots of partially empty cans of paint in your basement or garage, they could be affecting your IAQ. When you shop for paint, look for products that have lower levels of VOC, and you will find that they are easier on your air quality. Low VOC products are less likely to exacerbate respiratory problems, and they shouldn’t trigger allergic reactions. If you have paint stored in your home, it’s a good idea to dispose of it responsibly after your decorating is finished. If you want to keep paint for touching up, store a smaller volume, and keep it in an airtight container.
- Air Fresheners
A single air freshener could contain many different chemical compounds. Many of these chemicals are capable of triggering coughs, headaches, and allergic reactions, which can affect the breathing of people with pre-existing respiratory problems. If you want to use an air freshener, look for products that contain fewer chemicals, and these are typically environmentally friendly options. These products deliver the same or better results, and they won’t have a detrimental effect on your IAQ. Another option is to address the underlying issues that cause you to use an air freshener in the first place. Many people resort to using these products because they have a problem with the quality of the air in their homes. Perhaps the air has a stale quality, or there is an odor that you cannot seem to get rid of when cleaning. Regular cleaning can help, but a good HVAC system with an air purifier can help to remove a lot of dirt, dust, and debris from your air. Cleaner air reduces the need for frequent cleaning, and many people are surprised at home much better their home environment is after an installation.
- Scented Candles
Let’s face it; most people enjoy a candle. It’s romantic, and scented candles can provide a wide range of exciting or relaxing scents to any room. Many of us resort to using candles and perhaps incense to cover up some less pleasant odors rather than using an air freshener. We crave the ambiance of a candle, and the scent is an added bonus. But, many scented candles contain large quantities of formaldehyde that can be harmful to your health. This is especially true if you light scented candles on a regular basis in a poorly ventilated room. There are naturally scented candles available that do not contain formaldehyde or other toxic chemical ingredients. These natural candles tend to be more expensive, but they are better for your health, and as an added bonus, many people think they smell better too.
- Aerosol Sprays
Aerosol sprays are very harmful to your health and your IAQ. Many aerosol spray products emit toxic gases, and these contribute to pollution outside the home as well. It’s always a good idea to check the labels of products that you purchase to check that they are good for you, your home and your environment. There are spray bottle alternatives available for any kind of aerosol spray; they are effective and kinder to the environment. These products may cost more, but they are usually made from higher quality natural ingredients, and many people prefer them.
What Can You Do to Improve Your IAQ?
As we mentioned earlier, the air in your home can become more polluted than the air outdoors over time. For this reason, it’s a good idea to let some fresh air into your home periodically to prevent the re-circulation of stale air. Fresh air will introduce more oxygen into the home; many people feel that their mood is lifted for this reason.
If you don’t have indoor plants, it may be time to add some to your home if your IAQ needs improvement. Plants naturally release oxygen throughout the day, and this can really improve your IAQ. Some of the best plants to use are ferns, small palm trees, rubber plants, and the beautiful peace lily.
If you have poor IAQ, you may want to consider adding an air purification system to your home. This could be an addition to your existing HVAC system, and it can make the air in your home cleaner and fresher. If you’re interested in learning more about improving your IAQ, contact a local HVAC specialist for expert help and advice.