We all know that smog and airborne pollutants are a big problem. But air quality isn't just an issue outside--it's now been suggested that the air inside the home can in many cases actually be worse than the air outside. Even for those of us without allergies or sensitive respiratory systems, it's important to breathe clean air. And it's just as important to feel like your home is your sanctuary; something that can be difficult when you're worried about the air you breathe. So to improve the quality of the air in your home, here are a few tips.
1. Buy an air filter. The most common type contains HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, which remove even the tiniest of airborne pollutants from your air. These are popular with people who have allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems. Some purifiers also have ionizers that can boost the performance of the machine, or charcoal or carbon filters to help with odors.
2. Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter built in (several companies, including Miele and Electrolux, make vacuums with these filters). You can clean the air and the floors at the same time!
3. Switch to natural and organic cleaning products. A lot of the products available in the grocery store are composed of harsh chemicals that are great for getting out dirt, but not so great for humans to breathe in. There are more and more options on the market now for more natural cleaning products, which won't release the same dangerous chemicals into your home. Try Method, Mrs. Meyers, Ecover or Seventh Generation.
4. Switch to natural and organic home furnishings, or stick with antiques. You wouldn't necessarily guess it, but your furniture, rugs and fabric can be big indoor air pollutants. Many sealants, glues and finishes are full of chemicals that can linger in your air, and many materials, like plastic for example, are composed of potentially dangerous chemicals also. If you're buying new furniture, bedding or building supplies, consider your options. Buying organic isn't a bad idea, but you could also go with antiques--a lot of the chemicals used to create and treat furniture these days weren't around 60 or 70 years ago, so older furniture was probably made using less dangerous materials. As furniture ages, it releases off-gases into your air, but with antiques that are decades old, a lot of the off-gassing will have already happened.