EarthTalk® for December 26, 2017 - I’ve been having trouble sleeping and my doctor suggested that indoor air pollution could be a contributing factor. Do you have any tips for how to improve my home’s air quality without breaking the bank?

Caption: Getting a few houseplants is one way to start cleaning up the air quality inside your home.

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve been having trouble sleeping and my doctor suggested that indoor air pollution could be a contributing factor. Do you have any tips for how to improve my home’s air quality without breaking the bank? -- Jennifer Abromovitch, Putney, VT

The key to a healthy indoor environment is clean air, but many of the finishes and furniture in a typical home or office off-gas pollutants that can compromise air quality. While opening a window might help, it also could make matters worse by introducing auto exhaust and other noxious emissions in. So, what’s a clean air lover to do about keeping the indoor environment safe?

For starters, it can’t hurt to change the filters on your furnace and air conditioner(s) on a regular, scheduled basis. Manufacturers recommend changing out furnace filters every three months, but mileage may vary depending on square footage and other factors. (When you install a new filter, write the date on it when it should be changed to keep yourself honest.) Also, getting your HVAC air ducts cleaned once every few years—or more frequently if you have pets or lots of people using the space in question.

Another way to help filter your indoor air is the all-natural way: with house plants. While humans have always had a special relationship with the plants around them, it wasn’t until NASA published research in the 1980s that we knew just what an important role house plants could play in ridding indoor environments of noxious chemical pollutants. Plants scrub particulates from the air while taking in carbon dioxide and processing it into oxygen, thereby creating more clean air for us to breathe. Garden mums, spider plants, dracaenas, ficus, peace lilies, Boston ferns, snake plants and bamboo palms are great choices given their especially powerful air purifying abilities.

Yet another relatively easy fix would be to purchase an air purifier that plugs into the wall and uses carbon filtration or other methods for filtering contaminants out of the indoor environment. The Coway Mighty and Winix 5500-2 share top rankings from leading consumer review service, Wirecutter, while the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link gets kudos for great air cleaning with style.

If you really want to go all out, think about repainting interior walls with paint formulations that use little or no volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that have been linked to respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, among other health worries. AFM Safecoat is the industry leader in low- and no-VOC paints and finishes, but the big players like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore now also have healthier formulations for a quickly increasing number of eco-conscious home improvement customers.

Another easy albeit more costly way to green up your indoor environment would be to get rid of those old couches, mattresses and other furniture which were required by law to contain flame retardant chemicals before we knew how harmful they could be to our indoor environment and health. Now that California has mandated that new furniture products cannot contain these noxious chemicals, more and more manufacturers (including Ikea and Pottery Barn) are starting to phase them out, so it’s a great time to replace that old mattress with a new one that won’t off-gas carcinogens every time you plop down onto it.

CONTACTS: Coway, coway.com/Product/Detail?prod_disp_no=47; Winix, winixamerica.com/product/5500-2; Dyson, http://www.dyson.com/air-treatment/purifiers/dyson-pure-hot-cool-link-ev... NASA’s “Indoor Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement,” https://goo.gl/j7WzPU; AFM Safecoat, www.afmsafecoat.com.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

Photo: Caption: Getting a few houseplants is one way to start cleaning up the air quality inside your home. Credit: Stephanie Vacher, FlickrCC.

Visit Our Social Network Pages

 

Facebook Twitter RSS

 

About Our Publication

The Paper is an online-only Community Newspaper Serving The Woodlands, Spring,  & North Houston, Texas areas.  We Mash Traditional and New Media Journalism and have a staff of editors/journalists and community reporters/columnists who help us to bring timely and relevant content to our site on a 24/7 basis. 

If you would like to Submit a PR Release or Story/Feature Idea for publication consideration in The Paper, click on "Info" in our top navigation menu and then on "How To Submit News" in the sub-menu.  All submissions are subject to our site policies.

 

Advertise In The Paper

The Paper is a business model designed to explore and create new avenues of real-time online community news presentation and to implement affordable new avenues of advertising and promotional opportunities for local businesses to reach their target market audiences.

Promote Community Journalism

For Advertising Rates click on the "Info" tab on our menu, and then on "Advertising Rates" in the sub menu. 

For any Questions or to talk to an Ad Representive call: 832-296-6887 or 713-364-3019 The Paper is a Houston Online Newspapers Community News Publication.