5 Ways to Clean the Air in Your House

| 5/25/2017 12:00:00 AM

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Houseplants like this dracaena help keep the air in your home clean by filtering out toxins.

Indoor air pollution is one of modern society’s deadliest silent killers. Responsible for premature deaths from stroke, ischemic heart disease, COPD, acute lower respiratory infections in children and lung cancer, indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves in 2012, according to the World Health Organization

While few of us still use these type of unfiltered cooking methods in our homes today, the risks of poor indoor air quality are real, especially as more and more chemicals, in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are introduced into our homes through furniture, cleaning products, paints, building materials and other manufactured products. VOCs are linked to eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination and nausea, and damage to the liver, kidney and the central nervous system. Some are known to cause cancer in humans. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates concentrations of VOCs are generally two to five times higher indoors (and sometimes up to 10 times) than outdoors.

So, what can you do about it? Other than remove offending items, which can be difficult and in some cases impossible to do, there are some simple steps you can take to help make the air quality in your home cleaner. Here are five things you can do to help combat indoor air pollution:

Change Your Air Filters

Most homes have some type of HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and these actually do a lot of the work for you, typically filtering 100% of the air in your home twice each hour (while running). A good air filter will capture large particles like household dust, lint, dust mites, pollen and pet dander, small particles like bacteria and mold spores, as well as smoke, smog and microscopic allergens. They can also filter out particles that can carry viruses and odors. Most manufacturers recommend you change your filters every three months. There is certainly no harm in doing it more often, though, and if you have a full household—children, pets, lots of people coming in and out—inspect the filters every month or two and replace them if they look full.

3/22/2019 9:31:48 AM

Plants are a terrible way to deal with indoor air quality. That is a myth. The number of plants you would need to have any appreciable affect on IAQ is huge. They are more commonly a cause of indoor air quality issues because they are not maintained properly. Over watering, leaving biological debris (dead leaves.etc), mold, pests, etc. are more common than any help with IAQ. Please help to stop promoting this myth. Here is a great article with quotes from some of the leading IAQ researchers in the world. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/03/indoor-plants-clean-air-best-none-them/584509/

4/12/2018 11:02:56 AM

Great article! As a former greenhouse grower, the importance of plants indoors is often overlooked. They are not just “eye candy,” or pleasing to look at, but play an important part in our household health. Watch out if perhaps you or someone in your family suffers from allergies before opening all the windows. Sometimes opening the windows only invites pollen and mold into your home. If you have a good HVAC system, also try having your ducts cleaned. My wife and I are believers in this. Just be sure to get quotes from two or three companies as some unreputable firms will try to charge you by the “Duct.” AVOID THESE FOLKS AND SAVE YOUR PENNIES! They just use specialized high powered vacuuming systems, so once at your home? Negotiate a flat price. Watch out for scams and supposed “chemicals.” Just have your ductwork vacuumed properly. If you have had smokers in your home or moved into a home where smokers previously resides? REPLACE THAT DUCTWORK. It is full of poisons and no chemicals are going to ever safely remove them. I have seen the insides of ducts all lined with a yellowish tar and it is beyond disgusting. Then, when vacuuming, if you have pets? To keep pesky fleas and other nuisance creatures out of your old style vacuum cleaners? Throw in a flea collar. It will kill any invading creatures. My wife is still looking for some good ideas on killing those invading white cereal type moths. We use peppermint Castile soap to clean our cupboards and take food sources like cereals, pastas and grains and place them in storage containers. Yet we still seem this Spring to have a small new invasion...any ideas would be appeciated!

12/1/2017 7:55:27 AM

Another option that is especially useful when windows can't be opened (dead of winter and peak of summer) is a fresh air recirculation system that incorporates a heat exchanger. Installation and operation is described here: https://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/energy-recovery-ventilator-zmaz09djzraw

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