How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality?

For those with chronic lung conditions, the need for oxygen-rich air is a constant demand. While most people might think that avoiding outdoor air pollution will keep them healthier, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims “indoor air quality can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.” Even more alarming – the EPA estimates people spend around 90 percent of their time indoors.

Oxygen therapy through an oxygen concentrator delivers purified air in the exact dosage that the user needs. It still is no guarantee of perfect air or perfect breathing, however. There are also supplemental steps you can take to aid better breathing. Check out a few simple adjustments you can make that keep the air inside your living space cleaner.

Active Methods:

  • Cutting out Unnecessary Pollutants: Believe it or not, some of the most harmful pollutants are emitted from products used indoors. Unlike fumes from factories or other uncontrollable sources, though, these harmful chemicals can be eliminated. Here are some indoor air pollution sources.
    • Candles: As much as people love candles in the home for their ornamental purposes, burning those made from paraffin may actually harm your health. Candles made from paraffin contain chemicals linked to liver and neurological problems, and they also release soot that can damage your lungs. Try 100 percent soy candles, which emit less soot, as a substitute.

indoor air pollution sources

    • Printers: Believe it or not, it’s possible that with each print job you make comes enough tiny particles of ink, toner and ozone to make a busy city street look clean. To avoid these lung irritants while printing, keep your distance from the machine during longer periods of printing and try to set it up in an area with good ventilation.
    • Furniture: Cheap, affordable furniture is often made from pressed wood, an amalgam of glues and pieces of wood. It is suspected to emit formaldehyde, a possible carcinogen that can trigger respiratory problems and irritation. Try to avoid these types of furniture by using solid wood in high humidity areas like the kitchen. If you have to take the cheaper option, stick to plywood, which releases the fewest fumes.
  • Using Low-VOC paints: Even if the paint on your walls has been dry and odorless for months, there’s a chance it’s still polluting the air. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are the gases that continue to escape into the air after application of the paint. Chemicals like formaldehyde live here, so your best option is to look for low- or no-VOC paints. Otherwise, follow safe painting protocol by ventilating the indoor spaces you’re painting.
  • Fixing Leaks: Some of the biggest problems for assuring healthy air are dampness, humidity, and mold. More moisture indoors means higher risks of asthma symptoms. Therefore, it’s important you’re checking your roof and foundation yearly to fix leaks and prevent unwanted dampness from entering your home.

Passive Methods:

Even when you take action to cut out as many pollutants as possible, it’s impossible to eradicate all of the chemicals that contaminate the air in your home. By implementing a couple of the strategies listed below, you can cut out the lingering pollutants with some help from nature’s best air cleaners – plants and flowers! Here are some of the best plants for indoor air quality.

Good Choices for Cleaner Air:

  • Aloe Plant: Easy-to-grow, well-suited for sunny areas of the home and great at clearing the air of formaldehyde and benzene, two chemicals that live in cleaners and paints.
  • Spider Plant: Very tough to kill, the Spider plant does not require a lot of attention and will rid the air of carbon monoxide and other chemicals in your house.

best plants for indoor air quality, how can you improve indoor air quality

  • Snake Plant: This one survives well in darker, humid areas of the house, making it a good fit for a bathroom where it can clear the air of chemicals commonly found in cleaning products.

Follow this link for an extended list of plants that serve different cleaning purposes in your home:

Whether it’s simply removing candles from your living room or finding a spot around the home to add a new plant, cutting out pollutants around your home can be an easy but worthwhile task to create the best possible environment for better breathing indoors.


Photo Credit: Flickr, archeon, Candles
Photo Credit: Flickr, kathryn_rotondo, spider plant

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