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Healthier Indoor Air

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Here are a few ways to minimize your exposure to indoor air pollution and breath free.

This month, Spirituality and Health kicked off its Total Aliveness Challenge by focusing on The Breath. For this week’s Healthy Habit, I wanted to support one aspect of breathing, by looking at ways we can take control of the air quality inside our own homes. According to the EPA, poor air quality indoors can harm human health in two ways: One, it can aggravate pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, and two, it can cause potentially life-threatening diseases over time, such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases. It’s kind of scary, but remember, this is your own environment inside so do whatever you can. Here are a few ways to minimize your exposure to indoor air pollution and breath free.

Air out your hobbies. If you can, enjoy leisure time activities such as painting, or anything that involves soldering or sanding, out of doors—not at the dining room table. If you’re a home chef, open the window when you’re whipping up your next culinary masterpiece to let out the carbon dioxide.

De-mold the bathrooms. That faint whiff you’re getting in the shower area of the home is not your imagination. Mold easily grows when humidity is over 50 percent. The CDC recommends running an exhaust fan, and cleaning bathrooms with mold-killing products. Good news, though: you don’t need toxic bleach. Tea-tree oil, citrus seed extracts and white vinegar, diluted with water, make for perfectly good mold-killers.

Add a houseplant or two. NASA called plants “nature’s life support systems,” and has found that they remove particulates from the air. Pick an easy-care plant, like sanseveria, which thrives in a variety of temperatures and even low light and be mindful of what may be toxic to pets. Science is helping us out in the houseplant realm, too: Researchers at the University of Washington recently genetically modified a common houseplant, pothos ivy, specifically to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it. Chloroform is present in chlorinated water and benzene is a compound of gas. Both can build up in our homes over time from when we shower or from having cars in an attached garage. But whatever type of plant you purchase, don’t overwater, as you’ll get mold, and that just leads to poor air quality.

Use a probiotic cleaner. A brand called Counter Culture breaks down odors in the air and on fabrics using 13 probiotic cultures and essential oils, rather than artificial fragrances. You can find it at Grove Collective.

Look into an air purifier. These machines are especially good for people who have a lot of allergies, as they take pollen, animal dander and dust out of the environment, and they are also good for taking volatile organic compounds (VOCs) out of the air. Be sure to change filters frequently, based on manufacturer’s instructions, so that your purifier can work effectively.

Create good habits. Mop regularly to get chemical residues off floors (sorry); switch to fragrance-free cleaning and personal-care products; and take out trash quickly so it can’t emit gases.


Kathryn Drury Wagner

Spirituality & Health’s Wellbeing Editor, Kathryn Drury Wagner, is based in Savannah. She’s been a contributor to the magazine for many years, and she loves sharing ways to build a healthy, mindful, and sustainable lifestyle. 


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