Wednesday 12 October 2011

Indoor Air Quality - Can You Breathe Easy In Your Home?

Is the air quality in your home making you sick? 

I read that Australians spend 90% or more of their time indoors, whether that be at home, in cars, public buildings, schools, recreational buildings, restaurants or offices. Are you one of those people?

Nowadays, buildings are much more sealed and a lot of places keep windows closed because they have air conditioners either cooling or warming them.

Studies have shown that poor indoor air quality can significantly impact on our health as well as creating huge costs to the economy. In fact, the CSIRO estimated that the cost of indoor air quality in Australia could be as much as $12 billion a year!
Source: Brown, S.K. (1998) Beating the $12 Billion Cost of Polluted Air. CSIRO Press Release, Ref 98/55.

What kind of pollutants can we have in our homes?

Well we have all heard about dust mites, fungi and mould but there is much more than that. Most homes also have air toxics such as formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can be emitted from carpet, perfumes, furniture and more. If you want to find out the nasty truth about this carcinogen you can read about it here. Housework can actually be very dangerous!

Have you ever stopped to think how many chemicals you release when you open the  dishwasher after it has stopped?

What about your household cleaners with their poisonous chemicals and toxic perfumes?

What do you spray insects with?  More chemicals.

Have you checked out what is in the personal care products you are using - the deodorants, hairspray and more?

Do you merrily puff that talcum powder all over your baby's bottom when you change their nappy?  More toxic chemicals to get into those tiny lungs.

How do you get rid of odours in your home?  Do you spray air freshener - or perhaps you have those plug in air fresheners or the other type that release fragrance?  They are all loaded with chemicals - and the plug in type are a fire risk.

Add to that a bit of pet dander and a good dose of carbon monoxide and you have the perfect recipe for sick building syndrome.

I want you to try this little experiment so you get the picture. Grab some random cleaning agents, personal care products and laundry products and add up all the different chemicals they contain.  How many?  Did you read the warning labels?  Do you know the effects of those chemicals when they are combined with one another or the safe levels for the air or the cumulative effects of constant exposure over many uses?

Here is the frightening part

Well you would think someone would know, but many chemicals present in indoor environments have not been thoroughly tested and little is known about their long-term health effects. Stop and think about the implications of that.

All the research I have read indicates a lack of understanding around health effects from constant exposure to the chemical cocktails we are exposed to. So, the manufacturers have no idea what the long-term effects are of being constantly exposed to thousands of chemicals and the governments don't seem all that interested in properly regulating it which means....................

We are in effect, human guinea pigs.

What we do know is that chemicals used in the house can cause chronic respiratory disease, eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, aggravation of asthma, eczema and hayfever, lethargy and even cardiovasular disease, poor childhood intellectual development, lung cancer, poor foetal development and more.

Can you understand why I jump up and down on my green soapbox about this?

I always like to be solutions focussed and provide ways that you can avoid or at least reduce issues that might negatively impact on your health, so here are my tips.

  • Go through your cleaning products and either make your own safer versions or buy products that are definitely organic and not 'green' fakes.
  • Do the same with your personal care products
  • Open up the windows to let fresh air through the place
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe dust from surfaces
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Fill your house with pot plants
Pot plants are nature's air filters and they do a fantastic job of keeping the air much safer in your home. They were really in vogue when I was a young house-wife but you don't seem to see a lot of pot plants in as many homes nowadays.

Here is a really great video that is full of useful information and which demonstrates how you can use pot plants to improve the quality of air in your home.

If you are thinking about replacing your household cleaners with cheaper, effective and chemical free cleaners then I would absolutely recommend that you get hold of Green Cleaners Quick Cash by Helen Anderson.

This book has recipes for making every imagineable kind of household cleaner you would ever wish for. These cleaners match what commercial cleaners do as far as effectiveness in cleaning the house but at a fraction of the cost and most importantly, with no fear of getting nasty health problems. I refer to and use this book all the time.

Another of Helen's books that I use constantly is Herbs the Natural Alternative. Relative to this article, there are many ways to replace toxic personal care products through the use of herbs and essential oils. I love this book and have used the recipes for cooking, healing, relaxing baths, candle-making (most candles are highly toxic), mouth washes, body mists and so much more. They are not hard to make, are fun and kind to your household budget as well.

I hope you enjoyed this information and hope that you find it useful. If you do, please share it with your friends and family so we can all enjoy better health together.

Have a healthy and happy day!