The home environment isn’t necessarily one we readily consider. When we think about living sustainably, we usually consider how our actions might impact the natural environment outside of our homes – how the products we buy affect the health of watersheds, or forests; how they contribute to climate change or preserve biodiversity. We consider how the products we purchase impact the lives of the people manufacturing them.
But products used in the home – whether it’s cleaners, or interior paints, or furniture, or our vacuum cleaners – affect the air quality inside our living spaces, our home environments. Many conventional products (like those containing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs) can detrimentally affect our own health.
Indeed, this is such a legitimate concern for many that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an entire website devoted to educating folks about the health of their home environments.
As the EPA site summarizes quite well, indoor air pollution is caused by a number of problems. The main cause of concern – which may require a professional evaluation to determine if it is a serious issue in your home – are leakages from any indoor combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, or tobacco.
But the EPA also notes that products used for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, hobbies, and outdoor sources such as radon and pesticides can contribute to an unhealthy indoor environment. Moreover, building materials, furnishings, and air fresheners can release harmful components into the air more or less continuously. GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS There are lots of options available to anyone looking to improve the quality of their home environment.
Here are a few ideas from Green Depot:
1. Testing: Testing is the first step to knowing if you have an issue with your indoor air quality. The National Jewish Health Family Air Care Indoor Allergens and Mold Test Kit is a big step in determining if you have any issues. This kit comes from the nation’s leading respiratory hospital and enables users to screen their homes for the five most common triggers of asthma and allergies, testing for cat, dog, dust mite, and cockroach allergens, as well as 13 species of fungus or mold. Another option for testing indoor air quality is a Radon Gas test kit. Prolab Inc produces both a short term and a long-term radon test kit, providing you a comprehensive analysis of radon in the home.
2. Air Filtration: Breathing air that has been purified of harmful gases is beneficial to the health, as well. The Andrea Air Purifier is the first air purifier capable of absorbing toxins like formaldahyde, using the absorptive properties of living plants. It contains an air fan to draw air into the plant’s chamber and then releases it, purified. Any household plant can be used as the filtration agent.
3. Humidifying: Using a humidifier during the winter months can help alleviate respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and nosebleeds. The Germ Guardian H1000 Tabletop Humidifier is an Energy-Star rated cool mist humidifier. It runs silently, using ultrasonic technology, and unlike other humidifiers has an anti-bacterial coating to prevent the introduction of mold and mildew particles into the air it is improving. It utilizes a metal diaphragm vibrating at high frequencies to create water droplets which are then expelled into the room.
4. Vacuuming: The Electrolux Versatility Upright Vacuum is a full-featured vacuum cleaner. This cleaner includes a quick-release wand, allowing you to vacuum hard-to-reach spaces on the ceiling and in difficult corners. High impacts plastics and rugged construction make this a durable product, and the anti-odor HEPA filter captures 99.7% of pet dander, dust mites, pollen and mold for healthier indoor air.
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This may not be a complete list of all the things you can do to improve your indoor air quality (switch over from conventional fiberglass insulation to a healthier option like Ultratouch eco insulation). But, we hope this proves to be a good place to start and give you some ideas!
For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit: http://www.greendepot.com
For more information about indoor-air-quality, we recommend you visit the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/