“Breathing in, there is only the present moment. Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
In our last blog post, we discussed some of the most common household pollutants. Some may cause minor irritations like itchy eyes while others may be quite a bit more serious, resulting in symptoms such as respiratory distress. Thankfully, just a few tweaks to your home and lifestyle may help improve your indoor air quality and may help improve some of these symptoms. Last time we talked about indoor air pollution offenders. Today we will introduce you to some air quality redeemers.
Although there are many irritants in all of our homes and work environments, you may be able to take steps to minimize them with careful choices and by changing some cleaning habits.
Building and decorating materials — If you are building or remodeling, look for all natural, low- or no-VOC materials. In the last few decades, the number of low- or no-VOC materials have available have increased and they have also become more and more affordable.
Cleaning products — Skip the standard, chemical-laden cleaning products in favor of truly natural products or homemade alternatives. Vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, and so on make fantastic alternatives. In addition, microfiber towels and clothes are excellent at picking up dust from surfaces without the need for sprays or polishes.
Charcoal filters — Charcoal air filters are fantastic alternatives to candles and incense at removing odors rather than simply masking them. There are a number of commercial charcoal filters available in varying sizes and styles. Many can be slipped under a couch, behind an appliance, or inside of a cupboard. Just remember to change them out periodically.
Houseplants —As you likely learned in science class as a child, plants take in carbon dioxide from the air and breathe out oxygen. What your elementary school science teacher probably didn’t mention, however, is that many plants are also able to pull other toxins out of the air as well. In the 1980s, the Associated Landscape Contractors of America teamed up with NASA to study the efficiency of common houseplants and their ability to the clean the air. According to the NASA study, your best off if you purchase at least one air-filtering plant for every 100-square-feet of space in your home.
Before rushing out and purchasing a whole bunch of new greenery for your home, take into consideration whether or not you have pets or children. If you do have small children or pets, use caution and seek out plants that are non-toxic. No pets and no children? Then this may not be an issue — pick up whatever plants appeal to you most. To help your plants to continue their efficient work, be sure to dust large leaves
once per week
Non-toxic air filtering plants:
- Areca Palm— Per the NASA study, this is the number one most efficient air filtering plant you could possibly own. It also is excellent as a natural method of humidifying dry air. Additional common names for the Areca Palm include: Golden Butterfly Palm, Cane Palm, Golden Feather Palm, and Yellow Palm.
- Bamboo Palm— Additional common names for the Bamboo Palm include: Miniature Fish Tail Dwarf Palm, Parlor Palm, and Gold Luck Palm
- Lady Palm
- Boston Fern
Air filtering plants that may be toxic to pets and animals:
- Golden Pothos— Additional common names for Golden Pothos include: Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Taro Vine, and Ivy Arum
- Snake Plant— Additional common names for Snake Plant include: Golden Bird’s Nest, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, and Good Luck Plant
- English Ivy— Additional common names for English Ivy include: Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, and California Ivy
- Dracaena— Additional common names for Dracaena include: Corn Plant, Cornstalk Plant, Dragon Tree, and Ribbon Plant
- Peace Lily
Modify a few habits — Simple changes to your lifestyle may also help keep your home toxin-free. Encourage everyone to remove their shoes as soon as they come inside to prevent the spread of external toxins. If you don’t want to go shoe-free, consider purchasing slippers for use only in the house. In addition, be sure that pets are brushed, bathed, or groomed outside of the home either on your patio or at a grooming shop. And, if you use a humidifier, consider getting rid of it. Humidifiers increase the ability for VOCs to be released into the air and also promote the build up and spread of mold spores.
Bonus DIY: Make your own air purifier
While there are a number of air purifiers available (and we’ll devote a post to them in the future), you may be able to make a simple, cost-effective, and fairly efficient air filter with a fan, a filter, and some zip ties. You simply take a square filter — the same kind that fits into your home’s air vents — and use zip ties to attach it to the front of a square fan. Plug the fan in, turn it on, and relax. Over time, dust particles will collect on the filter. When the filter gets dirty, replace or wash it, depending on the type of filter you have chosen.
Be sure that the filters you select are either pleated, washable fabric filters or HEPA filters. HEPA (high efficiency particulate arrestance) filters are especially well suited to stopping particles of all sizes, even fine dust, pollen, and other materials. Avoid fiberglass as exposure to fiberglass particles may result in skin rashes, cough, itching skin or eyes, throat or nose irritation, wheezing, and more.
If you have been suffering from chronic symptoms for some time, your home environment may be partially to blame. However, your home and lifestyle choices may only be a part of the issue. To learn more about the possible causes of your symptoms and what you might do to better manage them, please call Functional Longevity Institute today at (916)550-0567 to schedule an appointment in-person, over the phone, or via Skype. Or, fill out our easy to use online form for near-instant access to a brief video and information about getting started with Functional Longevity Institute. We look forward to seeing you soon.