11 Tips for Reducing Indoor Toxins – Healthy Home – DIY House to Home
OK I could try and shock you into reading this article by saying indoor toxins can make you really sick!
Did you know that indoor air can actually have higher concentrations of toxins than the air outside?
Our efforts to make our homes more energy efficient by sealing cracks and leaks of heating and cooling we are also not allowing the exchange and movement of air flow and sealing in the toxins. Many health issues can take years to develop and may never be directly tied to the toxins in our homes.
We are more aware of the chemicals in cleaning products (I covered some non-toxic products in a prior post you can read here), but equally as toxic are the chemicals used in building products and materials used in flooring and furnishings and naturally occurring toxins.
Yes, the EPA does have standards for safety but with the worldwide sourcing of materials and loopholes in the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) it is wise to be informed and aware of things that you can do to lessen the exposure.
Vigilance and awareness that I could not rely on the government for health and safety began for me 35 years ago when I became aware that pesticides were being used on crops that were never tested. Not even short term testing was done and the stakes are even higher for long term for health issues. The few pesticides that were tested at that time were done on adults and I was feeding my children food with a much higher concentration than what was being tested on adults, because of the weight difference.
They claim that the regulations are much more stringent now but food is sourced from other countries that have their own standards and I am not taking any chances that their standard or even our US standards and mine are the same.
So if you don’t have time to read MSDS sheets on every product introduced to your home and want to make some simple changes to improve the air quality of your home, here are 11 tips you can implement.
- Open the windows regularly especially during the winter months. I do a Feng Shui clearing of negative energy for each room each month and it involves opening the windows so at the very least 15 minutes each month the windows are open the ceiling fans are running for a few minutes.
- Tracking in pesticides from treated lawns and use of insecticides has a simple remedy by asking your family to remove their shoes when entering your home. Use natural pest control products when possible. If you have bugs do some research because there are often less toxic alternatives to try. Pet collars to remove fleas should be used with caution especially around children.
- If you are painting, installing new carpet or having flooring installed do some research into the products. Paint – look for Low-VOC or Zero-VOC (VOCs are chemicals that vaporize easily) Carpet – of the 400 forms of VOC, 200 can be found in carpet. If new carpets are installed ventilate the room and use a fan to direct the air outside. Flooring both laminate and pressed hardwoods have been in the spotlight recently because of a lawsuit of a large retailer bringing in flooring from China with a VOC, formaldehyde that exceeds the safe levels. Limit exposure by choosing a product with less VOC as well as ventilating the area of installation.
- New furniture, mattresses and pillows. Unwrap the item and leave it in the garage to air out before bringing it indoors. Furniture is all treated with stain resistant chemicals and fabrics on pillows and mattresses are also treated. Allowing them to breathe by removing the plastic in a safe area can only help. Plastic wrapping seals in chemicals that have been sitting since manufacturing.
- Fire retardant fabrics in children’s sleepwear is and was a huge concern for me. It is the risk of fire and your children’s clothing catching fire vs having a chemically treated fabric on their skin many hours while they slept every night. It is a choice we each have to make for our own circumstances. For me the choice was easier, we did not smoke and I don’t use candles on a regular basis so choosing cotton tight fitting pajamas (it will say right on the label they should be worn tight fitting and they are not treated) so some pajamas can be exempt from the chemical treatment. Please do your research.
- Plastics long thought to be safe are now a concern especially when heated. Plastic wrap that touches your food when heated, heating food in a microwave in a plastic bowl or dish and many children’s toys contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or phthalates. Use glass vessels to heat all food in the microwave and opt for a microwave cover that does not touch the food. Always check for bottles, sippee cups and toys for children and especially for babies who put everything in their mouth and choose those that are phthalate free.
- Opt for drapes, window treatments and decorative pillows made of natural fibers. Cotton, linen, wood (not pressed wood), bamboo and silks are a few that are a better choice than poly fibers.
- Careful what you burn in your fireplace. Firewood vs firelogs. The debate rages on. Firelogs are made of sawdust and petroleum wax which is not something I care to inhale or toast a marshmallow over but they burn more cleanly which is better for the environment. So we opt for never burning firelogs in the house and keep them for the occasional outdoor fire pit party, but only when we will not be using them with any sort of food toasting.
- Change air filters regularly. When running the AC or heat at least some toxins and pollutants can be filtered out through the exchange of air.
- No smoking please. This is a no brainer, no smoking in the house. It’s hard with some elderly relatives but for me this is a rule I don’t bend. One coffee can placed outside by a chair, away from the entrance of the house is the only option.
- Do not use any product that contains petroleum fragrances especially in aerosol form. Many air fresheners and deodorizers contain formaldehyde, camphor, ethanol, phenol, petroleum-based artificial fragrances (which contain their own mix of toxins) and benzyl alcohol.
Some options for cleaning the air naturally and/or removing odors
- Himalayan Salt Lamps – Google it – they do work!
- Simply open a box of baking soda and leave on the counter of a room that has odors.
- Simmer cinnamon, cloves, cut fresh ginger, rosemary, basil or lemons in clean water for 30 minutes in a little water, but never leave unattended.
- Potted plants added to your room clear carbon dioxide and other toxins naturally.
- Use volcanic rocks or bags of charcoal available online.
- Use a product (like Scentsy) that melts wax with a low wattage light bulb. Opt for melting beeswax and a couple drops of essential oil or choose a soy or beeswax based candle in place of standard candles.
Well I hope I got you thinking about the relationship between your home and your health!
Blessings for health and wellness.