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Stop Winter Indoor Air Pollution at Its Source

Stop Winter Indoor Air Pollution at Its Source

You’ve got the sniffles. Your eyes are watery and you have a sore throat, too. But, hey, it’s winter; what else can you expect in the thick of cold and flu season, right? Maybe. But while you’re downing lozenges and soup broth, consider this: Eye, nose and throat irritations, wheezing, coughing, skin rashes and severe allergic reactions can result from extensive exposure to indoor air pollution, which has also been linked to headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Indoor air pollution is in full effect during winter months especially, when windows and doors are shuttered tight to keep the cold air out — but inadvertently keeping bad air in, too. Toxins from cleaning supplies, mold, and even the off-gassing of new paint all need to be circulated or filtered out. To add insult to injury, houses more than 20 years old may harbor lead-based paint or asbestos. All of this means indoor air quality can be many times worse than outdoor!

Thankfully, we have control of our indoor air quality in ways we don’t have outdoors. The best way to protect yourself and your family are by stopping indoor air pollutants at the door:

  • Replace your central air and heating filters monthly. Clean the vents and make sure they’re not blocked by furniture. HEPA filters are especially good at reducing allergens.
  • Make your home a no-smoking zone and consider restricting your pets from certain rooms in the house (such as a nursery or bedroom) to keep sensitive areas free of pet dander and tracked-in dirt.
  • Most store-bought candles contain harmful chemical components and artificial scents that are released as the candle burns. Switch to natural candles, such as beeswax and soy candles, or, better yet, use these directions to make your own using sand!
  • Many people do not realize the risks of a dirty chimney. Smoke backs up in a sooty flue and is pushed back into the home. It is well worth the money to hire a professional chimney sweep or the time to do it yourself. Follows these best burning practices — your family and Santa will thank you.
  • Clean with nontoxic products. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and a few other natural ingredients can replace most chemical cleaners. While nontoxic cleaning supplies are available in stores, these recipes are simple and cheap to make at home.
  • Remove your shoes at the door to avoid bringing outdoor pollutants inside.
  • Vacuum carpets, rugs and upholstery often to remove dust, pet dander and other pollutants. One company offers a “cradle-to-cradle” carpet that improves air quality.

If we have to spend more hours indoors during the winter months, they should at least be fresh ones. Follow these tips and you’re on your way to a home you can feel good breathing deeply in. As with all things, it pays to be proactive: Change the filters, sweep that chimney, employ an army of houseplants to filter air for you and release a (clean) sigh of relief.

Related Care2 articles:

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

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.

69 comments

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5:53AM PST on Feb 7, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:08AM PST on Jan 23, 2013

thanx

2:44PM PST on Jan 13, 2013

I wish articles would stop encouraging people to keep their animal companions out of their bedrooms! This is a cruel idea.

7:56AM PST on Jan 13, 2013

thanks!

6:38AM PST on Jan 11, 2013

Thanks.

4:28AM PST on Jan 9, 2013

Good info. Thanks for sharing.

10:48AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

No matter how fastidious you are, it’s basically impossible to prevent the accumulation of dust in your house. It comes from your shoes, pets, clothes, furniture and even your body. The dust molecules that are moving around your house also carry the odors and toxins that are bad for your health; however, there are ways to reduce dust levels in your house. The paint additive A does a great job of eliminating dust, odors and improving indoor-air quality. Air-ReNu only requires one application for a permanent solution.

8:36PM PST on Jan 6, 2013

Well , We just cleaned the chimney and I do make my own beeswax candles .
So trying ,

10:28AM PST on Jan 6, 2013

the recommendation for using ammonia and bleach can hardly be considered non-toxic!! What are you thinkin' here, I ask!!! More and more, I'm coming to not trust the recommendations I read here!!

2:22AM PST on Jan 6, 2013

Good info, thanks.

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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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