Stay With Me Here...Indoor Air Quality

Clean air in your home

Also known as Indoor Air Quality. May sound boring, but it is super important, so stick with me for a bit will you? 

Your home should be a refuge but is the air you are breathing while at home safe? The air in your home could be 2-5 times more polluted than their air outside according to EPA estimates. 

Short term and long terms effects of having polluted air in your home can be frustrating at the very least and possibly devastating. Especially if you have young children who are more susceptible to exposure, they are our “canaries in the mine”. Some effects can seem like a cold, which can make it difficult to diagnose. It is important to pay attention if the symptoms appear while at home then dissipate when away. Some effects may appear after years of exposure. These include a scary list of respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. 

Be careful to not get overwhelmed by the possibly of polluted air in your home. Start by taking some easy steps toward cleaner air. Here is what we have done and plan to do to keep the air in our home clean. 

What we've done:

  1. I got rid of toxic household cleaners. Now we use Norwex which uses zero chemicals. We just add water to the cloth and clean. It’s much easier now and I I don’t have to worry about our kids getting into our cleaning cabinet, or about them breathing, bathing in or touching chemical residue. For the tough spots and really deep cleaning I used baking soda and vinegar. 
  2. We open our windows! We are fortunate to live in an area where we can have our windows open pretty much year round. Which I know is rare, but when you are able to, let some of that precious clean air in! 
  3. We brought plants inside. Snake plants for both bedrooms, because they release oxygen at night. A rubber plant, bamboo palm and a spider plant. Plus they make our space more beautiful on a budget. 
  4. We don’t buy air fresheners. They aren’t exactly releasing fresh mountain air. They are releasing “fragrance”. The FDA has no control over the term fragrance and companies don’t have to disclose what is in it. Many contain phthalates which can cause cancer and developmental abnormalities. Among other VOC’s emitted, we just don’t want to take our chances. Instead get to the source. Clean the fridge, put some baking soda at the bottom of your trash can, lemon slices in your garbage disposal. 
  5. Vacuum daily or every other day. Our house isn't spotless, we have a couple of three feet tornados living with us so it’s difficult to get motivated. But vacuuming can remove chemicals that have settled into the dust on our carpet. 
  6. We tested our home for radon. I checked this website: and found that in California I was able to get a radon test kit for $8. Check your state to see what is available to you. It might even be free! Good news, we tested super low for radon. Now we can breathe easy. Pun intended.

What we plan to do:

  1. Guard the threshold of our home. We won’t be bringing in any pressed wood with Formaldehyde into our home. It can set off allergic reactions and respiratory issues as well as being a known carcinogen. It can trigger headaches and fatigue. We rent, and because it is likely in our carpet or carpet adhesives I do worry. But at this point we can just try to clear the air and open our windows. 
  2. No or low VOC paint and stains. VOC paints and stains are continually offgassing toxins that can slow down your central nervous system. Having a pretty color isn’t worth it, pay the bit extra for the No-VOC stuff. 
  3. We’ll need a new couch somewhat soon, I’m researching options for something without dangerous flame retardants 

If you are designing a new home or remodeling there are so many ways to create better air quality in your home. Hiring a LEED professional would be helpful in showing you the path.

We don't do this perfectly, and I try not to stress too much about Indoor Air Quality. Everything takes time and small steps in the right direction. I would love to hear how what you are doing to make the air in your home cleaner.