5 Ways to Clear the Air & Stay Healthy

Airborne chemicals are embedded inside our homes. They swirl around us as toxic gases emitted from the poorly-labeled bottles of cleaning fluids in our kitchens and bathrooms, from the bug sprays and air fresheners we use, and from the glues, sealants, and flame retardants in our furniture. They are also dragged inside our homes on the bottoms of our shoes and then stirred up when we walk on our carpets. Studies have shown that the air that surrounds us indoors is more toxic than the air outdoors…even if you live in a highly polluted city like Los Angeles or New York.

Airborne chemicals are known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. They are called volatile because they don’t stay put…they evaporate into the air and then you breathe them in. You never really think that your home could make you tired, irritable or even sick, but over time your body may absorb common VOCs like formaldehyde, phthalates, or PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) which are the chemicals in flame retardants used in furniture, which have been found in human breast milk and dryer lint.

These chemicals may exacerbate allergies and asthma, and can cause fatigue, nausea, dizziness, eye, nose and throat irritation, cough, headache, flu-like symptoms, and skin irritation. As they accumulate in the body over time they can silently affect how efficient your body runs, like whether you can maintain a healthy metabolism, burn fat well, and keep your hormones in balance. Some also are known to cause heart, lung or kidney damage and even cancer and nerve damage if exposure is prolonged. This in turn can have a devastating effect on your health. If your liver, for instance, becomes taxed by an overburden of chemicals, it may not work efficiently, setting you up for other health problems.

There are literally millions of chemicals that have been invented by humans in the last 60 years and depending on who you ask, somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 are in common use today. Yet only a very tiny percentage have ever been directly tested for their effects on human health.

Our bodies are remarkably resilient in defending ourselves from these chemicals, but only to a point. Scientists question the cumulative effect. It is common sense to believe that the more chemicals you are exposed to, the more likely you will eventually be negatively affected by them. Here are some easy and effective ways to reduce your exposure to chemicals in your home and minimize your risk of getting sick. They are simple to do and will give you peace of mind in knowing you are doing something proactive to help you and your family stay healthy.

5 Ways to Reduce Toxins by Clearing the Air:

  • Remove your shoes at the front door. Shoes track in lead, pesticides and other pollutants. Stuff we track in from the outside can make our home toxic, especially for pets and young children who spend more time on the floor. At the very least get a good doormat to wipe your shoes before entering your home.
  • Vacuum with a well-sealed high quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. This can do a much better job of cleaning your carpets than the cheaper vacuum cleaners found at most department stores. Steam cleaning can kill dust mites and bacteria as well.
  • Avoid buying new upholstered furniture containing halogenated fire retardants. If it contains polyurethane foam, look for models where the foam is thickly covered or wrapped inside the cushion so dust from it is less likely to escape into your home. See if they offer non-toxic stain resistant fabrics as well.
  • Use an air purifier. Try one with HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) technology developed by the US Atomic Energy Commission to filter and trap sub-micron particles. Many reviews say this type of air purifier is the most effective.
  • Add houseplants to green and purify your living space. A NASA study found that common houseplants are natural air purifiers. Look for Aloe Vera, Philodendron, Rubber Plant, English Ivy, Ficus, Boston Fern, Gerbera Daisy, and Spider Plant, to name a few.

For more practical, simple solutions on how to have a super healthy home or work environment, visit www.BethGreer.com

Related articles:
Top 10 Houseplants for Cleaner Air
7 Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Is Your Indoor Air Clean?

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Dale Overall

Deborah if you want people to take off their shoes before entering your Realm, post a nice sign: "Please take off shoes due to environmental toxins!" That will get them every time!
Well, I am allergic to pollen of birch, maple, alder and a few other trees along with grass pollens and am naughty as I do not wash my clothes every time I return home.
Do get around to taking off my shoes, prefer to go barefoot since it is hot in the apartment most of the time despite opening windows and all that-yes if I open windows here come the pollens from outside but can't live in a bubble all my life.

Have at least forty plants in my living room so that does help. They have not died yet from ingesting all the toxins lurking in my apartment, not to mention the cat dander that I am also allergic to--and no, the cat will not purrmit me to get rid of her as she rules the roost and she decrees that my main mission in life is to serve her sixteen year old needs, being blind she has nowhere else to go. In exchange she allows me certain past times such as the internet, reading, walking as long as I have time to pet, soothe, talk, feed, water, clean out the litter pan and make her life as cozy as is possible.
Sadly not all of us can afford HEPA vacuums and other items-these can get rather pricey.
I also try to avoid as much fast food, refined foods as is possible although it is not always possible to get everything organic so I end up ingesting toxins in the peels of apples and what not.

Dale Overall

Oh I forgot, there is a word limit but Care2 never specifies what it is or has a twitter like number indicator telling me when my word count is coming to an end.
Continuing on what I was saying before getting cut off -
Yes, having no carpets would be lovely given all the toxins in new carpets these days but I live above a woman who bangs with a flipping broom stick handle when she hears me walking even with a carpet and I am a quiet walker but the floor boards are old as the building is over 40 years old. But then she bangs even when I am sitting at my computer typing away, no TV or other audio on but perhaps she can her the keys on the laptop who knows? Or if I flush the toilet she will bang away sometimes...go figure.
Sadly, the toxins in modern life has increased drastically and whether one is outside or inside we cannot escape unless we live in some remote village in a grass hut and even then we are likely not totally safe!

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M.3 years ago

Very interesting read- and thanks for the info. like it or not, we are all exposed to environmenta toxins.My houseplants all look green and healthy- plants do make a place look alive and helps with the flow of positive energy.

heather g.
heather g.3 years ago

Yes - we have a lot to thank scientists for. To think they earn rewards for creating toxins in the air that we breathe wherever we go.... whether in our homes or walking downtown....

Deborah D.
Deborah D.3 years ago

Good ideas...

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies3 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for the article, a really interesting

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

I like the indoor plant option, but I don't think they get enough light. They always turn brown at the edges of the leaves.

Joan Mcallister
.3 years ago

I need to get out there and buy some more plants.

Roxana Cortijo
Roxana Cortijo3 years ago

More plants for the home. I just love that idea.