Did you know that indoor air is up to five times more polluted than outdoor air? Let's not be alarmed. At Protech Allergies, we give you these 10 tips to purify the air in your home and breathe healthier.
Pollution in major cities, rush hour traffic, factories belching out white smoke... that's what comes to mind when we think of "pollution". But what about indoors? Did you know that indoor air is up to five times more polluted than outdoor air?
These "toxic" particles come from common and everyday elements such as building materials (asbestos already banned in insulation, some granites, radon in most floors, paints, varnishes), detergents and cleaning products, air fresheners, pet hair, textiles such as blankets, bedding, stuffed animals, carpets? Don't panic, we are not going to dramatize. First of all, we accept that it is not possible to breathe totally clean air. But we can adopt small habits that can mitigate the presence of these harmful particles and improve indoor air quality and, by extension, reduce the symptoms of allergies and respiratory problems. Let's take a look at some of them:
1. Ventilate the house.
It's a great idea to air out the house, but it's a good idea to open the windows wide and do it for at least half an hour (even in winter!) and early in the morning (especially if you live in the city). Avoid doing it in the middle of the day and at night, when pollution is at its worst. And keep windows or balconies closed, especially when your pollen allergies flare up.
Ventilation helps create air currents that: 1) keep moisture from building up in the house and 2) expel harmful substances.
2. Against mold and moisture.
For a healthy environment, the humidity level should be between 40 and 60%. Humidity is an accumulator of contaminating particles and is not something that only occurs in beach apartments. Poor insulation or in any house in winter, with heating and low outdoor temperatures, it is common to have problems with condensation inside. And there, when the indoor humidity is above 60%, harmful particles and mold appear.
The bathroom is the part of the house where the most humidity accumulates and extractor fans are already common in these rooms to try to compensate for the impossibility of ventilation when there is no outside window. If it is too late and the signs of humidity are already visible, there are natural solutions to clean and remove these stains: baking soda, white vinegar and sea salt are good allies. And a trick to eliminate moisture in the cabinets: put small cloth bags filled with salt and change them once a month.
On the other hand, avoid hanging clothes inside the house. When drying, water accumulates in the environment and facilitates the appearance of mold and mildew. This is something that at first is not visible to the naked eye, but the reality is that they spread quickly.
3. NASA Plants.
NASA was the first organization to identify a list of plants that help clean the air in homes and offices in the late 1980s, ratified and expanded in another study conducted in 2016 by the environmental organization Wolverton Environmental Services. This type of plant has a particular ability to filter the most common indoor pollutants: benzene, xylene, ammonia, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
The best known: dracaena, bamboo palm, common ivy, ribbons, ferns, tiger tongue, aloe vera, rubber tree. And also flowers: gerberas, butterfly orchid, peace lily, azaleas, chrysanthemums.
4. Low VOC (volatile organic compound) furniture.
There are many building materials and furniture whose paint, varnish, glue or preservative treatments contain organic compounds and chemicals that emit fumes that pollute the environment. In fact, most furniture is treated with or contains formaldehyde, a substance that is a long-term health risk.
If you need to buy a piece of furniture and you want to be sure that it does not contain pollutants, ask for wood without formaldehyde and that it has been manufactured with varnishes and lacquers with low or zero VOC emissions. There are several online stores that were born with this desire and this "green" spirit.
5. Mineral and vegetable paints.
Most paints are derived from petroleum and pollutants. It is true that there are some water-based paints without heavy metals that are an improvement over what we traditionally used. In many of them you will see that they carry the Ecolabel label, which indicates low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions. But beware, this does not mean that they are environmentally friendly, only that their toxicity has been reduced. In fact, in many cases, they still contain harmful substances such as propylene glycol and glycol ethers.
There are already ecological paints obtained from minerals (silicates, lime or clay) and plants (resins, vegetable oils, starches, waxes). Special mention must be made of lime paint, which not only does not emit harmful substances, but also absorbs CO2 from the air and acts as a natural bactericide.
6. Non-toxic cleaning products.
Bleach, polishes, air fresheners, aromas, grease solvents... the toxicity of these products can cause symptoms such as asthma, coughing, dizziness or shortness of breath because they release a series of substances harmful to our lungs, affecting our respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
There are already ecological cleaning products. Neutral soap, with a formulation that is neither too alkaline nor too degreasing and not very fragrant. Biodegradable washing nuts, organic liquid detergent for dishes and laundry, citric acid packages?
And we also have healthy homemade alternatives: white vinegar, baking soda, alcohol, salt, lemon... This post Make your own homemade ecological detergent will help you.
Vinegar and lemon, good degreasers and disinfectants. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which reduces and cuts grease, and has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Good combination for wet stains on tiles and countertops, windows and, in general, for cleaning kitchens, bathrooms and appliances. Vinegar, already well known for cleaning floors.
Baking soda, excellent for neutralizing and eliminating bad odors. Perfect for absorbing grease or oil stains, and for cleaning delicate surfaces and clothing.
Ethyl alcohol to remove grease or glue stains.
Salt, with its "exfoliating" and absorbing power, to remove dirt and bad odors.
7. Cleaning the air conditioning filters.
At least once a month, it is essential to eliminate bad odors and avoid respiratory discomfort if you are allergic to dust or pollen. Filters should be cleaned under the tap with mild soap and water or use a vacuum cleaner to remove embedded dust. No chemicals!
8. Bathing pets.
Animals, whether feathered or furry, give off substances that can reduce indoor cleanliness. Especially dog and cat dander. Giving them a weekly bath will reduce the allergens floating around the house.
9. HEPA filters: air purifiers.
HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filters are designed to keep pollutants out. They are able to trap between 85% and 99.97% of even the smallest pollutants. They are installed in air conditioners, air renewal devices or vacuum cleaners.
Using of a high quality air purifier with a HEPA filter is the quickest solution to indoor pollution. This type of device can clean a large amount of air, which is essential for the most sensitive people: babies, elderly people, people with very acute allergies or health problems.
10. Dual-flow ventilation.
This goes beyond our list of "home" habits, because it is an installation in the structure of the house itself. It is the technological answer to the "open windows" we mentioned at the beginning.
It is an intelligent ventilation system with internal ducts to obtain a constant renewal of the air in the house and also to recover the heat or cold expelled to the outside. Thus, the two problems of the traditional opening of the windows are solved: the air renewal is no longer relegated to a specific time of the day (clearly insufficient to clean the stale environment throughout the hours) and on the other hand, the accumulated heat is not lost in the house (in winter) and the entry of heat is prevented (in summer).
We hope these ideas can help you improve the air inside your home. May the clean air be with you!