7 Things You’re Doing That Are Making Your Indoor Air More Toxic
Did you know the EPA ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five threats to human health? And the average person spends up to 90% of their time inside. Indoor air pollution has been linked to headaches, chemical hypersensitivity, asthma, cancer, and even death .
A large part of indoor air pollution is made up of chemical gases released from everyday household items. In fact, air pollutants can be two to five times more concentrated indoors than they are outdoors.
Here are 7 things you should stop doing today to improve indoor air quality in your home or office:
- Not Opening Your Windows
Let’s face it, every home or office will have some level of indoor air pollution, even though we’ve listed out some great ways to significantly reduce it below. Simply opening your windows regularly is a great first step towards healthier indoor air. Adequate ventilation allows some of that inevitable “bad stuff” to get out and fresh outdoor air to circulate in.
2) Burning Paraffin-Based Candles with Synthetic Fragrances
Everyone loves candles, but you might not love learning what’s in some of them. Most candles are made of paraffin wax, which is a major red flag. Paraffin wax releases highly toxic carcinogens (benzene and toluene to be exact) when burned.
Synthetic fragrances used in scented candles can also contain harsh chemicals, including phthalates, and can aggravate allergies, and have been linked to increased rates of asthma attacks and certain types of cancers.
Beeswax candles are a great alternative and can actually help to reduce indoor air pollution. Organic fragrances and essential oils are a safer option, but can be quite potent. We recommend sticking with unscented varieties and enjoying essential oil aromatherapy through a diffuser, ring burner, or warm bath. 
3) Using Air Fresheners with Synthetic Fragrances
Indoor air fresheners might not be “freshening” your air like they claim. We’ve probably all used a wax melter, spray or scented plug-in, but have you ever read the ingredient labels of these products? Many air fresheners share common ingredients to those found in synthetically scented candles, and have been linked to related health issues .
But the word fragrance has not always carried a bad connotation as its literal meaning is “a sweet or delicate odor” . Certified organic fragrances on the other hand are regulated by the USDA, and like ours can be derived from organic essential oil blends.
DIY Organic Fall Fragrance Melt
Combine the following non-toxic ingredients to make your own fall fragrance melt:
- 3 tbsp organic coconut oil
- 3 tbsp organic pumpkin spice
- 1 tbsp organic ground cinnamon
- A pinch of organic whole cloves
Place mixture onto a household wax melter and enjoy!
4) Cleaning With Conventional Cleaners
If you’re already familiar with what we do, then you probably recognize the importance of choosing organic household cleaners when it comes to your health. Many conventional cleaners contain toxic chemicals directly linked with health-related issues, and when used on a regular basis have a tendency to build up in your home leading to increased indoor air pollution.
Parabens, petroleum-based materials and phthalates are just a few of the countless ingredients we do not use in our USDA Certified Organic cleaners and detergents.
5) Letting Your Indoor Plants Wither
Oh, the beloved office plant you forgot to water the last three weeks… It’s okay, we’ve all been there. Luckily, there is no shortage of indoor plants to choose from (and some of them are very low maintenance). Keep these guys thriving, and in return they will give you healthier indoor air.
As you learned in 2nd grade science class, plants thrive on carbon dioxide and release precious oxygen. Baking the Thanksgiving turkey, or just plain old regular meal prep, can emit quite a bit of Carbon Dioxide. Houseplants can’t get rid of indoor air pollution entirely, but they can help “dilute” it with added oxygen, making your home more breathable. Certain plant species like Aloe Vera, or even Gerber daises are even known to remove certain chemical vapors like benzene and formaldehyde .
6) Not Cleaning Your Oven & Stove Regularly
I thought my husband was burning the baking potatoes, but it turned out it was just some left over pizza crust blackening to ash in the bottom of the oven. Setting a smoke detector off might not sound like a big deal, but it is a friendly (and loud) reminder that you are contributing to the build up on this toxic carbon monoxide in your home. Cleaning your stove and oven regularly will get rid of grime that reduces indoor air quality and can ultimately pose fire hazards.
7) Forgetting About Your Air Filter
Previously, this was a chore we overlooked, until one day our AC stopped working, and swapping out the air filter ended up costing a few hundred bucks. Once we started replacing our indoor air filter regularly, we really felt a difference in the way we breathe. No more waking up with stuffy noses or headaches, and no more dusty odor when the heat finally kicked on in the winter.
Experts recommend changing out your filter every 90 days if you live in an average home, and as often as every 60 days if you live with a furry-friend. A dirty filter is less able to trap indoor air pollutants like dander, gases, and other fine particles . Think of your air filter as the first wall of defense between your lungs and all the invisible contributors to indoor air pollution in your home, and it might even save you a wasted breath when debating your heat bill with the utility company.
Have you made a change in your home to reduce your indoor air pollution? Share your honest story in the comments below for a chance to be featured on the blog!
1) Conserve Energy Future, https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-and-effects-of-indoor-air-pollution.php
2) Wellness Mama, https://wellnessmama.com/22656/dont-use-scented-candles/
4) Merriam Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fragrance
5) Mother Earth Living Magazine, https://www.motherearthliving.com/healthy-home/reduce-indoor-air-pollution-zm0z14ndzhou
6) Environmental Protection Agency, https://blog.epa.gov/blog/2014/04/earth-mont-tip-change-your-hvac-system-filter/
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