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Breathing Easier

Breathing Easier

While most of us are aware of the hazardous air quality that can exist outside our homes, many of us would be surprised to learn that, according to Environmental Protection Agency research, the air inside the typical home contains at least two to five times more pollutants than the air outside. In fact, the EPA considers indoor air pollution to be one of the top five environmental health risks.

Poor indoor air quality is usually the result of some combination of the following five factors:

1. The large number of chemical substances we use to clean our home and ourselves.
2. The chemically treated and synthetic materials used to build and furnish our homes.
3. Inadequate fresh air—the con of having tightly sealed, highly insulated homes.
4. Improperly maintained or vented combustion equipment (gas stoves, furnaces, hot water heaters).
5. A concentration of outdoor air pollutants, especially in urban areas.

There are a number of questions you can ask in order to help yourself become more aware of the quality of the indoor air in your home or workplace. Here’s a short list to start:

1. When I come inside after being in fresh air, what do I smell? Are the odors unusual or do they linger?
2. Does the air in my home regularly feel stuffy or stale?
3. Does anyone smoke in my home, including regular guests?
4. Does anyone in my home suffer frequent allergies, colds, respiratory problems or burning eyes?
5. Are mold and mildew present in any room?
6. Do I use kerosene or other non-electric space heaters?
7. Does my home contain any new plywood?
8. Do I use any synthetic personal care products?
9. Do I use synthetic chemical household cleaners?
10. Are my furnishings made of synthetic foam?

Before you rush out to buy an expensive air filter, there are a couple of cost-free steps you can take now to improve the air quality inside your home.

First, try to eliminate any potential indoor pollutants at the source (think commercial household cleaners, personal care products, synthetic furnishings). This will rid your home of a certain percentage of pollution permanently and free you from worrying and monitoring those items.

Secondly, ventilate your home whenever possible in order to dilute and replace the air within your home. While outside air contains pollutants of its own (especially in urbanized areas), any amount of ventilation is usually helpful.

Read more: Allergies, Health & Safety, Home, , , ,

Adapted from Naturally Clean by Jeffrey Hollender and Geoff Davis, with Meika Hollender and Reed Doyle (New Society Publishers, 2005).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


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5:36AM PST on Feb 1, 2013

Breathing is the simplest form of self-help

6:21PM PST on Jan 4, 2013


7:04PM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Thank you.

9:43AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

This was very enlightening Thank Ya'll!!!!

1:16PM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

If you place small cups throughout the house filled with vinegar, it will leave the house smelling fresh and killing germs as well.

1:14PM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

I air my house out daily and clean with vinegar and bleach water on different things. I also use baking soda in my carper before vacuming to get the stale air out of the carpet.

4:53PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

Vinegar and baking soda are safe to use at home. The questions are helpful. Thanks for the information.

5:16AM PDT on May 31, 2011


12:15PM PDT on Mar 28, 2011


10:26AM PST on Feb 6, 2011

I use vinegar and also bicarbonate of soda for cleaning (Annie's recipe), most cleaners are harmful if you breathe in the fumes so I avoid them completely. I always leave a window open. Just after it's rained I'll open more windows and get the fresh air in.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Thanks for sharing.

You should floss after eating, so after dinner or before bed, not leave the food stuck in your mouth…

I got most of these right! I have 6 dogs and a cat and I need to know these things!

How sweet. She realizes that they are friends and can rest peacefully.


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