We can all agree with Dorothy when she says, "There's no place like home." It's our refuge from the outside world and an environment that is perfectly tailored to the way we want to live. But, did you know that the air in your home is often 3-5 times more polluted than the air outside? In fact, it can even be up to 100 times more polluted, depending on the products and materials used within your four walls.
As an interior decorator, I must create designs for my clients that marry form with function. But, it is also imperative that I educate them on the impact some of their material and design choices will have on their health.
Did you know...
Carpet can be one of the most negative air quality factors in your home.
New carpet can be a source of chemical emissions. Carpet and the adhesives used in its installation emit volatile organic compounds. These chemicals may result in eye, nose and throat irritation; headaches; skin irritations; shortness of breath or cough; and even fatigue. Carpet can also act as a "sink" for chemical and biological pollutants including pesticides, dust mites, and fungi.
If you are looking to purchase new carpet, ask for lower emitting carpet, cushion, and adhesives. Before new carpet is installed, ask the retailer to unroll and air out the carpet in a clean, well-ventilated area. Opening doors and windows -- during and after installation -- will reduce exposure to most chemicals released from new carpet.
MDF is recognized as being the highest formaldehyde emitting pressed wood product.
Big box stores like Ikea, Home Depot and Walmart are filled with MDF furniture. The main allure of MDF is that it's light and affordable. Unfortunately, MDF products are also chock full of formaldehyde -- a known cause of asthma, and a possible carcinogen.
Formaldehyde products typically emit vapors for 7 to 8 years. However, the emissions are most detrimental during the year and the intensity gradually
eases up over the next 7 to 8 years.
Whether it be MDF, or real wood, consider buying your furniture second hand.
Vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of molds and 80% of viruses on contact.
You don't need an arsenal of expensive, chemical-laden, heavily scented and over packaged products to clean your home. Vinegar works as well on counter tops as it does on mirrors. Consider adding citrus zest to make your own pleasant, custom scent.
Potted plants aren't just pretty, they help to filter chemicals from the air.
Bringing in the "green" of plants will truly lead to a "greener" environment, in more ways than one. Houseplants can reduce components of indoor air pollution, even volatile organic compounds such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene. Plants also reduce airborne microbes and increase humidity. Click here to read the list of 10 plants recommended by NASA researchers.
I hope you put these tips to good use and to good health!