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The air inside your house is probably more polluted than the air outside. Reduce your indoor pollution by knowing about these sources and eliminating them.

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Did you know that the air in your home can be up to 5 times more polluted than the air outside? Despite the idea that all the cars and outdoor pollution is worse outside than inside, your home is actually filled with potential pollutants that make it into your air–and stay there.

Living in polluted air can have many health consequences: asthma and other respiratory issues, inflammation, allergies, obesity and even cancer in some cases.

The surprising thing is, many of these air pollutants are things that we willingly introduce in our own homes, even though we don’t know about their toxic effects. This is why it’s easy to reduce or eliminate certain sources of air pollution in your home. Making smart choices can keep your air cleaner and your family healthier.

doorway outside fresh air1. Ozone from air purifiers

Don’t believe the hype: air purifiers with ozone functions are NOT something you want in your home. Ozone is the chief component of smog and something governments are doing their darnedest to reduce outside. Why would you want to bring it inside?

Air purifier companies claim that ozone helps bind smaller pollutants, making them easier to pick up by the filter. Others say that ozone kills bacteria and mold spores in the air. But adding ozone to the air might harm more than it helps.

Ozone can cause asthma flare-ups and coughing fits. It can scar your lung tissue and basically reduce your cardiovascular health for life.

Ozone: just don’t buy into it.

2. Water contaminants from your shower

Tap water is generally safe to drink. That’s a given. And your shower water is the same as tap water, so it should be safe, right?

Wrong. Although tap water is safe to ingest, potential contaminants become airborne and much more concentrated when they come from a steamy shower. During a shower, you can absorb 100 times more chlorine in your body than by drinking a gallon of water.

If you filter your drinking water, you might also want to consider filtering your shower water. There are plenty of shower filters that can help reduce water contaminants–find the one that’s right for you and make sure that your filters are certified by your state or the federal government to remove said contaminants.

3. Volatile organic compounds from your paint

More and more research shows that with time, paint can release what’s called “volatile organic compounds”, air pollutants that can affect your brain and lungs if breathed for long periods of time.

To respond to this research, paint companies are now offering a variety of low- or no-VOC paints to reduce these health hazards. When repainting a room, make the smart healthy choice and choose the least harmful paint you can afford.

Beware: hobby paints can also contain VOCs, so always paint either outside or in well ventilated areas.

4. Fragrances and other beauty products

When you look at what your mass commercial beauty products really contain, you’ll probably be as scared as me. Although many of these crazy-sounding chemicals products are indeed safe, there are many others that have questionable health effects.

If you want to reduce the toxins in the air (and on your skin) coming from your beauty products, I strongly suggest buying from the Skin Deep cosmetics database. It’s full of information about potential health problems from chemicals used in cosmetics and keeps an awesome database to help you make healthier personal care and beauty purchases.

5. Gases from cleaning products

Do you really need harsh, industrial chemicals to clean your windows? True story: I once got a chemical burn from a Lysol disinfecting sheet that has caused me chronic psoriasis on one hand. As soon as I discovered the culprit, I threw everything away and swore I would never use the stuff again.

Chemicals from cleaning products can be so toxic that warnings appear on the labels. But more healthy (and still just as strong) cleaning products have been appearing on the market. Sure, they’re a bit more expensive, but the investment might be worth it now, to save you many healthcare dollars later.

There’s also plenty of information on the web about DIY green cleaning, mostly using vinegar, baking soda and other safe, ordinary kitchen items we can actually eat. Because when I make a sandwich on my counter, I’d rather not ingest chlorine, thank you very much.

Is your home polluted?

There’s no easy to way to tell if your home contains unhealthy toxins in its air, but you can reduce the risk by taking these steps today. Changing a few habits and buying greener, safer products will keep you, your family and your home healthier.

 

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.