Last edited 2021/06/11
Air pollution concentrates indoors
… The air within homes… can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors.
It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
How your indoor air can make you sick
Some people can become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated or high level exposures. Symptoms can include “irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue”.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
Other health effects, says USEPA, “… May show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
Respiratory symptoms— one household’s wake-up call
I learned first hand how many cleaning chemicals are linked to respiratory symptoms, during a big home cleaning detox— on the job.
I evaluated 65 different types of cleaning products in the home. Not being a health expert, I ran each product through online tools like ewg.org. Results were eye-opening. Read about the project here.
What may be in your air
Edit 2021-06-11: Small, inhalable particles
... Particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because these particles are inhalable. Once inhaled, particles can affect the heart and lungs and in some cases cause serious health effects.
… Indoor PM can be generated through cooking, combustion activities (including burning of candles, use of fireplaces, use of unvented space heaters or kerosene heaters, cigarette smoking) and some hobbies. Indoor PM can also be of biological origin.USEPA: Indoor Particulate Matter
Perennial (or year-round) allergies are often caused by common indoor triggers such as dust mites, mold, pets and cockroaches and are the body’s physical reactions to inhaled airborne allergy triggering proteins, known as “allergens.” These perennial, or year-round, allergy sufferers deal with stuffy or runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezing, and wheezing all year long. Others suffer from seasonal allergies from trees, grasses, or weeds.Clifford W. Bassett, M.D., FACAAI, FAAAAI
Germs are among dust contaminants. While most germs are not a concern, here’s one getting more attention.
Influenza viruses can spread through the air on dust, fibers and other microscopic particles…Medical Express, August 18, 2020
Here’s why I wore N95 respirators since 1989, any time I’ve stirred up dust at home or on the job. That is, until COVID, when N95s were reserved exclusively for health care workers.
Indoor dust consistently contains four classes of harmful chemicals in high amounts… 45 potentially toxic chemicals that are used in many consumer and household products as vinyl flooring, personal care and cleaning products, building materials and home furnishings.Milken Institute School of Public Health, 2016
Air seeping in from outdoors
This can be more or less of a a problem, depending where you live. Being near a major freeway or high-traffic street, or a refinery, is a biggie. Or wildfire smoke.
Cleaning up your indoor air pollution
Where many with allergies and asthma have started
I’m no indoor air quality expert. Having said that, I’ve worked with many clients over the years with allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities. Among the steps they’ve taken are the following.
- 2021-06-11 Edit: Leaving shoes at the door is a biggie. Keep slippers handy for your household and visitors.
- 2021-06-11 Edit: Opening windows when safe to do so. Safe, meaning you’re not living near a major freeway, or refinery. And not being in the path of wildfire smoke.
- Using toxic-free personal care products. Find well-researched toxic-free brands through Nontoxic U.
- Bringing in air purifiers to reduce your exposures as you work on your next steps. Here’s what experts at Healthy Building Science (HBS) recommend.
- Phasing in Health-based cleaning is a practical next step. It starts with detoxing your cleaning supplies, then de-cluttering to streamline cleaning.
- Replacing any questionable furnishings, at least from your bedroom. Many conventional furnishings shed chemicals like flame retardants and more that contribute to indoor air pollution. You can find toxic-free replacements through Nontoxic U.
- Evaluating your HVAC system. Here’s what the experts at Healthy Building Science (HBS) recommend.
So many good steps to take. What have I missed?
And what’s your indoor air journey been like? Are you experiencing symptoms? Have you discovered practical, affordable hacks?
We’d love to hear!