Improve Your Indoor Air Quality Organically

Is My Air “Quality?”

Everyone wants to breathe fresh, clean air when inside their home. Most of us probably assume that the air we are breathing is clean and free of airborne chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, styrene, xylenes, and trichloroethylene. The truth is, these chemicals do exist in the air we breathe inside our homes and offices.

VOCs (volotile organic compounds) like these chemicals come from things like paints, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants, moth balls, air fresheners, hobby supplies, dry-cleaned clothing, pesticides, building materials, furnishings and so many other things that commonly exist inside homes and office buildings. The effects of these VOCs can range from minor symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and headaches to far more serious issues like damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system.

How do you know if you have poor indoor air quality? Well, for one trust your senses and your body. If your home has a dank smell to it, or you’re getting frequent headaches or runny nose when you’re inside, you may want to check on the quality of your air. Here’s some air quality monitors to get you started.

How Do I Improve My Air Quality?

So, how do we minimize VOCs without having to break the bank on things like UV lighting inside ducts, HEPA filtration systems, or ERVs (Energy Recovery Device)? Don’t fret, we’ve compiled some affordable, natural ways to improve your indoor air quality!

Add Plants!

Areca Palm (Dypsis Lutescens)

In a study conducted by NASA scientist Dr. B.C. Wolverton, the Areca Palm was found to be the most effective at removing toluene (commonly found in paint thinners, nail polish remover, glues, and correction fluid) and xylene.

Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

The bamboo palm is effective at removing formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene. But watch out, as this plant has a tendency to increase the humidity in whatever room it is placed.

Rubber Plant (Ficus Robusta)

Formaldehyde doesn’t stand a chance against the rubber plant, as it is one of the most effective plants at absorbing formaldehyde in the air. This plant thrives in low sunlight and at temperatures of 60 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for indoor conditions.

Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

This is one of the best plants for removing trichloroethylene (typically used in refrigerants and degreasing solvents) from the air. Another plus for the Dracaena is just how easy it is to grow and maintain.

Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

Super effective at ridding the air of xylene (a common solvent), the Dwarf Date Palm is an excellent plant for absorbing other airborne chemicals as well. Not only that, but these plants can help regulate temperature in whatever room it is placed.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)

The Boston Fern is the most effective at removing airborne formaldehyde, which appears in everything from garbage bags and facial tissues to adhesives and cleaning supplies.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”)

The Peace Lily is great for removing alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air. A high transpiration rate makes this plant a great natural purifier and humidifier, plus it’s hard to kill.

English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

It isn’t something you like to think about, but it exists: airborne fecal matter. Don’t fret, the English Ivy is excellent at reducing the airborne particles, so you breathe less of them. Put one in each bathroom or next to the litter box and breathe a little cleaner.

Beeswax Candles

Many candles contain paraffin, which is made from petroleum and can impact your home’s air quality. Instead, try beeswax candles which emit almost no smoke so they are great options for those with allergies and asthma.

Eliminate Fragrances

Many household cleaners contain fragrances that can affect people with asthma and allergies. Try opting for fragrance free or even try making your own natural cleaner!

No Shoes!

When you wear your shoes inside you are spreading around all the nasty stuff they pick up outside, including allergens and toxins, around your house. Keep your floors clean, leave the shoes at the door.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal, or activate carbon, absorbs and traps VOCs, odors, and moisture in the air. Keep a cup in your laundry room or next to your HVAC return, or spring for an air purifier with activated carbon filtration.

Increase your ventilation

Opening a window to add fresh air will dilute VOCs in the air. Running bathroom and kitchen vent fans can remove excess moisture and VOCs from the air.

Remember that when it comes to moving air out of a building that CFM (cubic feet per minute) out = CFM In. Basically, if you are running an attic fan, or even a smaller fan like the one in your bathroom, you are putting the building envelope of your home under a negative pressure.

This means that your house is going to need to pull fresh air in to replenish the air lost. So, if your HVAC system isn’t able to properly keep up with the air exchange, then the building will pull air in through any little cracks it can pull air from. If your house has a crawlspace, this can mean pulling nasty, unconditioned wet crawlspace air into your home, thus lowering the quality of your home’s air and increasing your risk of fungal growth.

Test for Radon

Radon is colorless and odorless and is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. It’s definitely worth checking on, and the good news is that it’s easier than ever to do so. The Radon Guy has already made finding the right radon monitor easy.

We hope you found some of this information useful, and are able to implement some of these methods to improve your home’s air quality! Feel free to contact us directly if you have any other indoor air quality questions.