We’re in the midst of winter, which means that as soon as you get home, you probably close your windows and doors tightly and run to the thermostat, anxious to turn up the heat and climb under a blanket. But as the freshly heated air rolls through the house and you snuggle deep into your couch, have you stopped to think about else might be hibernating in your home?
The truth is that winter air often means more for you than colder temperatures. Keeping your house airtight can lead to an increased level of air pollution, including rising levels of everything from lead, formaldehyde and fragrances to dust mites, pet dander and asbestos. Without the regular airing that typically comes with spring and summer, these pollutants settle in and become pervasive irritants, particularly for children, the elderly and those with asthma. Repeated exposure to certain chemicals, like lead or asbestos, can also lead to serious illness, mesothelioma and other types of cancer.
So how do you escape these irritating pollutants? Read on to see how we clear the air using these natural air purifying techniques.
Add houseplants to your decor
Certain plants can remove a variety of air pollutants from your home. Examples include the Aloe Vera plant and the Bamboo Palm, which removes formaldehyde from the air, and the Boston Fern and Areca Palm, which provide humidity and general air purification. Others, like the Baby Rubber Plant and the Chinese Evergreen, emit a high level of oxygen. For photos and a longer list of potential air purifying plants, check out this article.
Remove your shoes at the door
Shoes are usually covered in a fine layer of dirt, bacteria and mold. Taking them off at the door keeps your house cleaner and less vulnerable to the pervasive spreading of pollutants.
Avoid artificial fragrances
Artificial fragrance can be particularly irritating to those with asthmatic or sensitive breathing concerns. Not only do they release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other particulates into the air, but they are completely unnecessary. You can dispel unpleasant odors with any number of natural techniques, including boiling lemon in a pot of water on the stove, dipping cotton balls in a pleasantly-scented essential oil and stashing them around the house, or freshening up carpet and furniture with a simple spray of water, lemon essential oil & vodka (get the recipe here). If you aren’t up to making a homemade cleaner, opt for cleaning brands like Method or those that are unscented.
Burn beeswax or soy candles
Cozy nights are often better with a few candles burning in the room, but regular options (made with paraffin) are normally petroleum-derived and can release benzene, toluene, and other unknown numbers of irritating chemicals into the air. Soy candles, on the other hand, burn much more cleanly (especially when they are made with only essential oils, rather than a fragrance oil blend) and beeswax candles can be particularly effective at removing dust and dander from the air, benefiting those with asthma.
Vacuum everything! Clean everything!
In the winter, cleanliness is truly akin to godliness. Regular cleaning will prevent dust, pet dander, mold and lead from accumulating, which means less cleaning for you and less stress on your filtering system. We also recommend using a damp cloth to wipe down counters, tables and other furniture, rather than a dry cloth that simply wipes the dust from one air to another.
Why is air purification so important? There are many irritants that could be plaguing your home, but one of the most serious is asbestos. Asbestos, which is linked to over 75% of mesothelioma cancer reports, becomes dangerous when its fibers become damaged and enter the body through inhalation. Often found in older homes in the insulation, floors and ceilings, the presence of this pollutant and others make purifying your air regularly important not just for your comfort, but for your safety as well.
For more information about asbestos and its connection to mesothelioma, you can visit http://www.maacenter.org/. For more information about the other air purifying techniques above, you can visit the sources below.