Warning: The Air In Your Home Isn’t Healthy! Four Ways to Fix It

Warning: The Air In Your Home Isn't Healthy! Four Ways to Fix It

—Part 3 of the Series—

Four Ways to Clean Up Your Indoor Air

In Part 2 of the series, you learned that indoor air is generally dirtier and less healthy than outdoor air. Although initially, you might have been incredulous, you must admit that the facts about poor indoor air quality are glaringly clear.

After all, air is trapped within your home, and so many of your home products and activities add to the mess like air fresheners and cleaning products.

By now, you’ve probably cut back on air fresheners and switched cleaning products.

Or, at least you are seriously considering it, right?

In this part of the series, you will learn four ways to clean up your indoor air.

Some are so simple. One or two may surprise you.

1. Let the fresh air in

Simply open your windows to improve the quality of your indoor air.

Since you know that the indoor air is actually dirtier than outdoor air, airing out your house will go a long way toward improving what you breathe indoors.

Pretty easy, right?

The next one may surprise you.

2. Live with plants

That’s right. You’ll want to load up on indoor plants.

But not just any plants. You’ll want the ones that are scientifically proven to absorb VOCs.

Dr. Bill Wolverton who is an Environmental Scientist and wrote “Plants: Why You Can’t Live Without Them” explains the science and studies that support using plants as air cleaners.

You’ll need two plants in 10-12″ pots per 100 sq. ft.

Here’s the list of plants. Pay special attention to the type of VOCs the plant is best at absorbing.

  • English Ivy
    • Thrives in low sunlight
    • Absorbs formaldehyde (carpeting, curtains, plywood, particle board furniture and adhesives)
  • Peace Lily
    • Adapts well to low light but is poisonous to pets
    • Rids air of the VOC benzene (paints, furniture wax and polishes) and acetone (electronics, adhesives and some cleaners)
  • Lady Palm
    • Tree-like species
    • Targets ammonia (cleaners, textiles and dyes)
  • Boston Fern
    • One of the most efficient air purifying plants for formaldehyde according to study published in HortScience
    • Requires moisture and humidity to thrive
    • Removes formaldehyde (carpeting, curtains, plywood, particle board furniture and adhesives)
  • Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
    • Thrives in low light
    • Lowers carbon dioxide and rids air of formaldehyde and benzene
  • Spider Plant
    • Easy to grow
    • Reduces formaldehyde and benezene

So, if you recently bought new carpet, furniture or laminate flooring you may want to consider English Ivy, Boston Ferns, Snake Plants or Spider Plants.

Peace Lily’s are perfect for your entertainment area since they will absorb the acetone from the electronics.

No green thumb? Too much plant life? Consider the next approach.

3. Love your air cleaner

Air cleaners are a smart option. In fact, you may just end up loving your air cleaner.

If you buy the right air cleaner, it will:

~Absorb VOCs.

~Remove airborne dust, mold and pollen.

Can you picture less dust gathering? It’s a nice visual, isn’t it?

~Eliminate odors.

Think about it. It solves the air freshener problem, doesn’t it?

A word of caution though.

Not all air cleaners/purifiers are created equal. Many are only equipped with a single HEPA filter that can’t handle VOCs and odors.

Doesn’t do you much good, right?

Find out which air cleaners are worth it.

The final way to clean up your indoor air is an unusual one.

4. Let your drywall do the work

Yes, drywall exists that absorbs VOCs for 75 years even when painted with up to 25 coats.

How does it work?

The drywall captures and converts VOCs into inert compounds and safely stores the compounds within the board.

You’re skeptical, right?

No need to be skeptical because the claims were validated by UL Environment and certified by Greenguard Indoor Air Quality. Both reliable certifications. Check out www.airrenew.com for more information.

Unless you are renovating or building new, it may not be practical to redo your entire home, but it could make sense to do the bedrooms and nursery.

Ready For Clean Air and Cheerfulness?

 

You’re loaded with ways to do some clean up and start breathing cleaner air.

What’s the benefit?

Living with cleaner indoor air means you’ll be healthier and if Joseph Addison is right, more cheery too!

“Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other”

–Joseph Addison

Could you do me a favor and share this with your friends?

Don’t miss the rest of the series! You’ll learn about all natural/organic pest care, safe paints and cookware, the best non-toxic personal care products and more. Sign up for the full series!.

Do You Make These Two Mistakes That Taint Your Indoor Air?

Do You Make These Two Mistakes That Taint Your Indoor Air?  From The Zen of Pure Living

—Part 2 of the Series—

Do You Make These Two Mistakes That Taint Your Indoor Air?

 

Do you believe that outdoor air is dirtier than indoor air?

Well, you’re mistaken.

It’s hard to believe – right? You were always taught to be concerned about outdoor air pollution. But, in reality, it’s really the air trapped in your home that is dirtier than outdoor air.

Here’s one important fact you need to know:

—-EPA studies confirm that indoor air pollutants may be 2-5 times higher than outdoor air—-

How can this be?

First of all, you live indoors with the windows closed with the same air being recirculated by your heating/air conditioning systems trapping all sorts of airborne particles inside.

Yes sure, your air filters catch some of the larger particles, but it is really the finer particles and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that cause health issues. And, your air conditioner/heating filters are no match for these airborne particles.

Second, if you’re making the mistake of using air fresheners and the wrong cleaning products, you are adding to poor indoor air quality.

Kinda of disturbing, isn’t it?

Simply by using air fresheners and cleaning products, you are releasing VOCs that could create health issues for you.

Here’s what you need to know about air fresheners.

Bad News About Your Air Freshener

You like your home to smell fresh and clean, so you use spray air fresheners, scented candles and plug-ins. The scents smell great, and you don’t have to worry about your house smelling funny when people stop by.

You’ve smelled bad odors in other people’s homes, and you don’t want that happening to you!
Unfortunately, while you may love the way your air freshener makes your home smell, you may unknowingly be subjecting yourself to dangerous chemicals.

You can read the full article (What’s In Your Air Freshener?), but the facts are simple.

Research shows that air fresheners contain hormone disrupting chemicals and chemicals that are likely or known carcinogens.

Check out this scary example:

—-Febreze was found to contain 89 airborne contaminants—-

Sadly, any freshener containing perfume is problematic. So, whether you’re using scented candles, plug-ins, sprays or solids, it’s all the same.

It’s troubling, isn’t it?

So, do a good thing for your health, and stop making the mistake of using air fresheners or use them on a more limited basis.

The Second Mistake – Using the Wrong Cleaning Products

Cleaning products are another source of bad stuff released into your air that you really want to take seriously.

Check out Get The Truth About What’s In Your Cleaning Products for the full story.

Want the simple truth?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has lax regulations for disclosing ingredients so anything labeled as fragrance is largely unregulated and untested.

Fragrances can be any one of 3000+ ingredients – many synthetic, petroleum-based and toxic.

Think that buying products labeled as Green or All Natural are safer? They aren’t. Green and All Natural are marketing terms that aren’t regulated.

Admit it.

You’re a bit dismayed that labels aren’t trustworthy. And, that you are using products with untested, unregulated ingredients.

How do you find the safest cleaning products?

You can easily find the safest cleaning products though.

Use the Pure Living Space Shopping List for the Safest Cleaning Products. Click to sign up for a free printable shopping list that is all set for your next grocery run.

You’ve got what you need to improve your health today, so what’s stopping you?

Unless maybe….you’ve got an evil genius like Mary Todd Lincoln!

My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ’til a more convenient season.”

Mary Todd Lincoln

Don’t miss the rest of the series! You’ll learn some surprising ways to clean up your indoor air and more myths will be debunked. Sign up for weeks 3-12.

Six Ways to Clean Your Laundry, Naturally

Six Ways to Clean Your Laundry, Naturally

Did you know that simply by doing laundry, you are polluting your indoor air? Because your laundry products have harmful ingredients, and your laundry room may be poorly ventilated, that clean laundry smell comes at a price.

What’s Lurking In Your Laundry Detergents & Softeners?
So, what’s in your laundry detergents and softeners?

According to a University of Washington study on air contaminants from consumer goods, between 18 and 20 chemicals were detected in four laundry products – including likely carcinogens, developmental toxins, and allergens.

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it? Doing laundry pollutes your air.

Relax though because you can clean your laundry without dirtying your air.

Here are six steps to cleaner laundry and indoor air:

1. Try vinegar instead of fabric softener

Instead of liquid fabric softener add 1/2 cup white vinegar to your laundry final rinse. Many washers have a special rinse cycle setting that you can use.

2. Ditch your dryer sheets

Ditch the dryer sheets that release harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in favor of less toxic alternatives. Dryer sheet chemicals adhere to your laundry AND are released into the air.

See what you think of these alternatives:

  • Wool dryer balls – You can either make your own or buy them. These 100% wool dryer balls naturally soften your laundry in the dryer. If you like scented laundry, use a drop or two of your favorite essential oil like lavender on the dryer balls. The only downside to using the balls is the noise which, not surprisingly, sounds like you put several tennis balls into your dryer.
    • Feeling crafty? Check out this YouTube video on how to make your own dryer balls. It’s not a bad project. Don’t buy the washable wool because it won’t work right. YouTube has lots of videos on how to make dryer balls, but the three-minute version should tell you what you need to know.
    • To buy wool dryer balls, go to Amazon.com where you can get a set of six for around $20. They are reusable and last a while.
  • Use a fabric swatch and add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. While this will not soften your clothes, it will add a pleasant scent, and will be quieter than the dryer balls.

3. Opt for a “clean” laundry detergent

Try a laundry detergent that is healthier for you and the environment. These are highly rated and tested:

  • Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent – Free & Clear Regular & HE
  • Biokleen – Laundry Liquid – Free & Clear or Citrus Essence
  • Ecover – Zero Laundry Liquid Concentrate

4. Make your own laundry detergent

You can always make your own laundry detergent. Here’s a recipe for an easy and clean detergent.

  • 1 bar (4 oz) Castile Soap finely grated
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • Mix and use 1/4 cup per load
  • A note about Borax: some people have concerns about Borax causing skin irritation, but it IS safe to use. It’s true that if you do hand wash with Borax, it may irritate your skin. This effect is due to Borax changing the water’s pH, so as long as you are not doing hand laundry, Borax can be used without harming your skin or releasing harmful VOCs. With it, your laundry will be bright and clean.

5. Ventilate your laundry room

Do your best to improve ventilation in your laundry room. Hot water causes the water disinfectant pollutants to vaporize creating significant VOCs.

How does this happen?

Your city water contains disinfectants to keep your water safe, and when these disinfectants are heated and sprayed into droplets, they can easily vaporize. This happens in the shower, bath, dishwasher and laundry primarily. Whole house water filtration systems do not remove these disinfectants, so your best bet is to use cooler water and/or ventilate your laundry room well.

Another way to tackle this problem is to use an air cleaner that is specially designed to clean up VOCs including the ones created by vaporized disinfectants.

6. Leave the door open

Always prop open the washing machine lid to allow the inside to dry out to prevent mildew growth.

So how do you clean your laundry without dirtying your air?

Get the shopping list of laundry and cleaning products that you can trust. You’ll find kitchen, bathroom, all purpose, glass and laundry cleaners and detergents in a handy shopping list format.

Suggested reading:

The Truth About What’s In Your Cleaning Products

Kitchen Cleaners: Safe, Non-Toxic Ways to Clean the Kitchen

How a Boston Fern Can Improve Your Health

Learn How a Boston Fern Can Clean Up Your Indoor Air

You may be surprised to learn that your indoor air is dirtier than outdoor air, and you may be wondering how this could possibly be.

It’s pretty simple. It’s because just about everything you bring into your house off-gasses creating Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs for short. And then to make matters worse, most of the time your windows are closed which traps all sorts of pollutants inside.

So, what is to blame for all of the VOCs in your place?

Here’s a partial list: carpets, paint, wall coverings, fabrics, cleaning products, scented candles, air fresheners, perfumes, pressed wood furniture, polyurethane foam furniture, adhesives, stains, and cooking. Another source of VOCs is laminate wood flooring which you’ve probably heard quite a bit about with the recent allegations against Lumber Liquidators and formaldehyde-releasing flooring.

The most prevalent VOC in homes is formaldehyde and it’s in just about everything. According to the EPA, at certain exposures, formaldehyde can cause a variety of adverse health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as other respiratory symptoms. The National Toxicology Program recently classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.

So, it’s generally not good news for you, although fortunately formaldehyde does dissipate over time.

How long does it take for formaldehyde to disappear? It really isn’t clear–testing is difficult for many reasons. The EPA simply says that “formaldehyde emissions are highest when products are new and diminish over time so the longer a product has been in place, the lower the levels of formaldehyde likely to be emitted.”

Boston Ferns Absorb Formaldehyde

The good news is that Boston Ferns are proven to reduce formaldehyde. And so, living with plants specifically the ones that work to lower VOCs can improve your health. According to Dr. Bill Wolverton an Environmental Scientist, plants can be used effectively to reduce VOCs.

You’ll need two plants in 10-12” pots per 100 sq ft. For more information check out his book “Plants: Why You Can’t Live Without Them”. Many studies support the ability of plants to reduce VOCs. In addition to Boston Ferns, English Ivy, Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and Spider plants also reduce formaldehyde.

Here’s the list:

  • Boston Fern
    • One of the most efficient air purifying plants for formaldehyde according to study published in HortScience
    • Requires moisture and humidity to thrive
    • Removes formaldehyde (carpeting, curtains, plywood, particle board furniture and adhesives)
  • English Ivy
    • Thrives in low sunlight
    • Absorbs formaldehyde (carpeting, curtains, plywood, particle board furniture and adhesives)
  • Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
    • Thrives in low light
    • Lowers carbon dioxide and rids air of formaldehyde and benzene
  • Spider Plant
    • Easy to grow
    • Reduces formaldehyde and benzene

How do you keep your indoor air clean? Have you tried using plants?

Find other ways to reduce formaldehyde and other VOCs to clean up your indoor air. And, check out The Zen of Pure Living for helpful ways to keep from inadvertently bringing harmful chemicals into your home.

Three Myths About Indoor Air Busted

Three Indoor Air Myths Busted

Check out these three common beliefs about indoor air quality and get the surprising facts.

#1:  Indoor air is much cleaner than outdoor air.

Sadly, this isn’t true for the vast majority of us in the US. A recent survey found that most people believe their indoor air is cleaner than outdoor air. While it’s hard to believe, indoor air has considerably more pollutants than outdoor air. For the most part, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are to blame. These VOCs come from many sources many of which you simply wouldn’t expect like cleaning products, carpets, perfumes, air fresheners, upholstered furniture, pesticides, pressed wood furniture, paint and more. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks.

See a room by room view of air contaminants to understand the sources. Learn more about the five ways to improve your indoor air quality (some are really easy). Understand which cleaning products and paints will create fewer indoor air problems for you. Sign up for The Zen of Pure Living 12 week email series on creating a healthier home the Zen Master’s way.

#2:  Dusting isn’t really that important.

I was actually pretty upset when I discovered that this isn’t true because it’s always been at the bottom of my list. Well, it may be time to pay more attention to dusting especially if you live with young children. Here’s why. Chemical flame retardants escape from many products and settle into household dust. The products with flame retardants include electronic devices (computers, TVs) and anything made with polyurethane foam (sofa cushions, mattresses, pillows, car seats), among many others. To think that all this time my cleaning has been focused on eradicating germs when I probably should have devoted just a bit more time to cleaning up toxic dust.

The flame retardant dust can be inhaled or even ingested mostly by small children who put everything into their mouths. Neither is good. The EPA “is concerned that certain flame retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and decaBDE are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to both humans and the environment.” Enough said.

Learn how to reduce the levels of dust without dusting (yes, it’s true, there is a way). And try to dust more often. I’m trying…really.

#3:  Cleaning products labeled as Green or All Natural are healthier and better for the environment.

Unfortunately, Green and All Natural are simply marketing terms, and no regulation exists around the use of these terms. In a 2010 study of consumer products (shampoo, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, laundry detergent, and more), 25 products were evaluated and 11 made some claim of “green” such as “organic”, “non-toxic”, or “natural” on their labeling.

Each of the “green” products emitted at least two VOCs classified as toxic or hazardous and four emitted at least one carcinogen. When the 11 so-called green products were compared to the 14 other products, no statistically significant difference was found between the number of chemicals classified as toxic or hazardous, or the number of carcinogens. Sigh.

Read more about why you cannot rely on the cleaning and laundry product labels regulated by the CPSC. Learn how to find safer, less toxic products.

Source:

Steinemann AC, et al., Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted, Environ Impact Asses Rev (2010), doi:10:1016/j.eiar.2010.08.002.