This article could perhaps be titled “Fourteen Ways to improve your home air quality” and …the bottom line is, yes, you can reduce toxic chemicals in your home today. Technology is changing our lives in many ways but the new air purifiers and HEPA (stands for High Efficiency Particular Air filter) vacuum cleaners can filter toxic chemical particulates from your new carpet, paint renovations or furniture (including dust, mold, allergens, bacteria, pollen, dust and pet dander). These newer filters and vacuums are well worth a closer look especially if a member of your family has allergies, emphysema, COPD, lung cancer or other chronic diseases or you just wish to improve your home’s air quality.
14 Fourteen Ways to improve your home’s air quality
There are many other things you can do to improve your home’s air quality and here’s 14!
- Purchase and use dust mite covers on all mattresses and pillows
- Reduce or replace your wood burning fireplace
- Your family pet cat or dog should sleep in their own space, preferably not with you or in your children’s bedroom
- For serious health issues, especially in children, having a family pet such as a dog or cat may not be an option
- If you have a forced air furnace replace the filter often and have the furnace ducts cleaned by a professional
- “Spring Clean” including wash or vacuum; bed linen, draperies, furniture and clothing (where dust and mold like to accumulate) often
- Replace carpet with wood flooring and check for low VOC (volatile organic compounds) and carpet off gassing
- Reduce or cut use of plastics in the home from shower curtains to food storage containers – glass food containers from recycled canning jars works well
- Do not use volatile cleaners in your home
- Also do not use chemical pesticides, herbicides in your home or garden (See CAP article “Cockroaches – Toxic Pesticides you pay to use in your home”) – always look for biological alternatives
- Go truly “natural” and use for example real wood, wool, cotton, bamboo or silk products
- Cross ventilate your home by opening windows– depending on the outside air quality
- Consider buying a “second hand” home or recycled furniture (from a known source) as many toxins give off fumes and particulates when new and for several months after
- Last but not least, consider purchasing a HEPA filter vacuum as well as a home air purifier
Hidden Toxic Chemicals in Your Home
Why would you do the above if you consider yourself a healthy person?
- Paint can emit toxic chemical emissions for six months after application
- New carpet and furniture contain formaldehyde which give off harmful emissions
- Other random toxic chemicals emissions from carpets are : Triclosan (possible carcinogenic and endocrine disruptor), Phthalates, TBT (tributyltin and organatin), Brominated Fire Retardant and Permethrin (Insecticide to kill bugs in carpet before shipping). See Links for further information on all these chemicals.
HEPA filter vacuum cleaner questions
- Is it noisy
- Does it consume a lot of energy – check for the Energy Star
- Does it have a washable permanent filter to help reduce operating costs
What will a HEPA filter accomplish (the advertising!):
A HEPA filter removes 99.7% of the air particles,
larger than .3 microns in a room and
this includes dust, mold, allergens and bacteria
Other types of filters
- UV filter which kills airborne living viruses and mold
- VOC filter purifies (new) household chemicals such as formaldehyde
- Charcoal filter – which removes odors and gas from the air
My three personal disqualifiers for a toxic chemical not to be used under any circumstances at home are:
(a) If they are environmentally “unfriendly” and
(b) One or all the following:
- If it is carcinogenic or a suspected carcinogen
- Is a POP. Which is a (Persistent Organic Pollutant) and this means it accumulates in the human body, animals and our environment. A well-known POP is DDT. POP’s accumulate in fat and don’t dissolve readily in water
- Is an Endocrine Disrupter (or suspected)
If you have a family member who has acute breathing difficulties, improving your home’s air quality is of prime importance. Take care and do your homework as the price range for HEPA filter vacuums and other filters varies greatly from several hundred to a thousand plus dollars. It is important to filter emissions of chemicals in your home which may irritate or aggravate your medical condition.
How many chemicals are used in our world today ?
but … tens of thousands. . .
With some estimates in the 80,000 plus range!
- HEPA filters are used in passenger airliners such as Boeing
- Use of an Ionizer filter is cautioned by the BC Lung Association as it can aggravate lung disease and actually make breathing more difficult and is not included on the list above
- Check out consumer reports on HEPA filters and those listed above and decide which will fit your family requirements and home
- Indoor plants, such as peace lilies and spider plants filter air in your home
- There are no filters which will remove second-hand cigarette smoke from a home or building
- What price for clean air ? Beijing air pollution goes “beyond” the air quality index chart
- Have a radon test in your home
- What is a HEPA filter
- 20% of people with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) have never smoked
- What is Emphysema
- B.C. Lung Cancer Association Air Pollution and air quality information
- Bed bugs in Vancouver, B.C. buildings database and advisory about misuse of pesticides
- A review of air purifiers
- WHO Report on World outdoor Air Pollution – see country profiles for where you live
- B.C. (and Canada) ranked highly for clean air – including Nanaimo and Nelson
Caramel and Parsley articles
- More on “How to Reduce Toxic Chemicals in Your Life” and the WHO report on EDC’s
- Some tips on how to reduce air and ground water pollution
- Obesogens – a word referring to environmental chemicals and how they affect us all
Common toxic chemicals mentioned in the above:
- Tricloson – a possible carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor – uses: antibacterial toilet bowl cleaner, bathroom cleaner, shoe and sock spray, saniflush toilet cleaner, fabric softener, laundry detergent, outdoor lotion, deodorizer and lots more.
- Phthalates and more
- Formaldehyde – a carcinogen and possible endocrine disruptor. For US products select in link at bottom right hand side
- Permethrin – a carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor
- TBT (tributyltin and organatin)
- Brominated Fire Retardant – an organocompound used in many products
- Polybrominated diphenyl ether PBDE – a brominated fire-retardant
- Volotile organic compounds (VOC’s) and their emissions
- Here’s the top 12 POP’s (Persistent Organic Pollutants) today – check it out