Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A is for Air Quality

A is for Air Quality...

Indoor Air Quality can actually be more polluted than the air outdoors.  Most people have heard about the indoor allergen type pollutants such as mold, dust, and dander.  But smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, and fragrances from perfume, incense, air fresheners, and candles are often forgotten and overlooked.  Cleaning supplies can also contribute to indoor air pollution. 

According to the EPA, Radon is an odorless, "naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around your home's foundation. Because of this difference in pressure, your home acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings."  

Other less obvious indoor air pollutants include "off-gasers" from things we bring into our homes like vinyl shower curtains, furniture, carpet, cabinets, and paints.  Chemicals that off-gas from these items are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and  formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.

So what can be done to improve indoor air quality?

To help with mold issues, visit epa.gov/mold for more info.  Tackling the moisture problem that allows mold to grow will be key.  Smaller mold problems can be scrubbed off with a hot water and bleach solution (depending on the surface).  Porous materials will probably need to be thrown out.  

Dust and dander are omnipresent.  Even the act of cleaning -- dusting or vacuuming can lead to the release of particles into the air.  When vacuuming and dusting, wearing a dust mask; de-cluttering and minimizing stuffed animals and excessive chotchkes can also be helpful.  Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters and air purifiers are also recommended.  To protect against dust mites that live in pillows, mattresses, and bedding, use protective covers, and wash linens weekly in hot water.  

Some love the "fresh aromas" of a candle, room "fresheners", and can't live without their cologne or perfume.  However, fragrances can irritate the nose, eyes, and throats of those with chemical sensitivities or allergies.  So think twice before adding these "fresheners" to your indoor pollutant load.  
For a more information about testing for and remediating radon, check the EPA site http://www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html. 

Low VOC paints are now available, as well as carpet with silver particles that have anti-bacterial properties, and eco-foam padding. http://peaceloveplanet.blogspot.com/search?q=carpet Material shower curtain liners are also readily available, last longer, and are washable.  

On the bright side, simply opening the windows, and airing out the house can be beneficial.  Easy to make green cleaners or green cleaners such as Greenworks, Ecover, Seventh Generation, and Mrs. Meyers will also help you to green your indoor air quality.  

So make a few green changes to your indoor air quality and breathe a little bit easier :)


  1. Green Goddess,

    Thanks so much for the Ecover mention! We hope we can be on the green journey with you and your family!

    Valorie for Ecover

  2. Great advice! Many of us don't think about indoor air quality, but it's so important because that's where a lot of us spend most of our time. Your blog is excellent ... and thanks for mentioning Ecover.