Are there common items in your home that could be polluting the air you breathe? If you’ve got a chronically runny nose, watery eyes, or a nagging cough – and it’s nowhere near your typical allergy season – there might be an issue with the quality of air inside your environment. 90% of our time is spent indoors, and if there’s something in our home emitting a pollutant, there’s a good chance we’re breathing it in.
What you might think of as benign might actually be compromising your air quality…and you might not even know it! We’ve rounded up 7 common indoor air pollutants we think you should know about:
1) Pollutant: Mold
Where it’s coming from: Your old, moldy houseplant
What happens: Over-watered plants with wet soil are breeding grounds for mold and mildew.
How to fix it: Try an automatic plant waterer – you can even make your own! – that provides water to the plant as needed, which can prevent it from being oversaturated.
2) Pollutant: VOCs
Where it’s coming from: Carpet and furniture
What happens: Many carpets are treated with a stain resistant or flame-retardant chemical, which can then off-gas into your air. With furniture, they can come from the glues and binders used in particleboard.
How to fix it: For furniture, look for certified solid wood products or secondhand furniture that’s lead-free. For carpets, look for Green Label products. Investing in a good vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help improve your indoor air quality, as can an air purifier that can destroy contaminants, odors and VOCs.
3) Pollutant: Chlorine
Where it’s coming from: Steam from your long morning shower
What happens: Chlorine from unfiltered water steam can become airborne and travel throughout your home as a gas.
How to fix it: Look for a showerhead filter that removes chlorine (and other potentially harmful contaminants). Invest in a high-quality air purifier that can eliminate contaminants and pollutants within your home as well.
4) Pollutant: Benzene & toulene
Where it’s coming from: Candles
What happens: Burning the candles releases the chemicals in the candle right into your air.
How to fix it: Use pure essential oils (a few drops added to a spray bottle of distilled water) or, if you have to have the glow and ambience of a candle, choose beeswax candles, which actually emit negative ions (that’s a good thing)!
5) Pollutant: Artificial dyes and fragrances
Where it’s coming from: Laundry products like detergent, bleach and fabric softeners
What happens: The chemicals that make up these products are being emitted right from your dryer vent, and there’s no current way to regulate this.
How to fix it: Units like the Laundry Pro eliminate the need for bleaches, detergents and fabric softeners – which means the fumes aren’t re-circulated, and as a bonus, they’re not in contact with your skin or leaching into the water supply, either.
6) Pollutant: Polytetrafluoroethylene
Where it’s coming from: Nonstick cookware
What happens: At high temperatures, the chemical polytetrafluoroethylene can release and contribute to the air pollution of your home. This chemical has also been linked with thyroid disease and ADHD.
How to fix it: If you see a nick or scratch in your nonstick cookware, it’s time to stop using it. Stoneware, heavy-duty stainless steel or enamel-coated cast iron can be great alternatives.
7) Pollutant: Ozone
Where it’s coming from: fumes from bleach, ammonia and other household cleaners
What happens: Fumes from these products can create ozone, and many cleaners contain artificial fragrances and dyes that can cause contact dermatitis, as well as trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.
The fix: Make your own cleaners! Inexpensive, green cleaning ingredients like white vinegar, lemon and baking soda can be just as effective at a fraction of the cost and with no negative impact on indoor air quality.