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Breathe Easy

May 28, 2014

How to improve the air quality in your home

If you want to bring a breath of fresh air into your home, try doing more than opening the doors and windows. The indoor air can be riddled with pollutants, like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, ammonia, and xylene, as well as dust mites, pet dander, fire retardants, radon, and chemical fragrances. You can improve the air quality in your home with a few simple steps.
  1.    Bring in houseplants. Certain houseplants naturally purify the air, removing toxins that decrease the quality. According to NASA, the peace lily is your best choice as a purifier, removing airborne VOCs like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene. Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) is great for ridding the air of formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and toluene. English ivy removes certain toxins and mold. The Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) produces large, colorful bloom while also cleansing your home’s air of formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Other plants on the list include the weeping fig, mother-in-law’s tongue, and chrysanthemum; however, these are known to be toxic to pets.
  2.    Keep your floors clean. From using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to scrubbing with microfiber mops water only (no detergents), you can reduce the allergens and toxins in your home.
  3.     Protect the threshold. Prevent germs and pesticides from walking in your door by placing a large mat at each exterior door. Encourage people to wipe their feet and leave the dirt-caked shoes at the door.
  4.     Reduce the humidity. Mold and dust mites thrive in a moist environment, so use a dehumidifier, maintaining a 30-50 percent humidity level and emptying the pan frequently. Vent the clothes dryer outside, use an exhaust fan when running the dishwasher or shower, and fix plumbing leaks.
  5.   Prohibit smoking. Cigarettes produce powerful pollutants, with more than 4,000 chemicals in the smoke. Just because someone else wants to inhale doesn’t mean you have to.
  6.  Buy fragrance-free products. Cleaners and air fresheners may appeal to your sense of smell, but they’re attacking your air quality. Synthetic fragrances emit harsh chemicals into the air. Avoid products like dryer sheets, laundry detergents, air fresheners, and anything else with an added scent. If you want to better smelling air, slice a lemon.

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