Indoor Air Pollutants

Is indoor air pollution contributing to your poor health?  The “stuff” floating in your home’s air is 80% dead skin, and the other 20% isn’t any better.  Over 350 different pollutants and contaminants have been identified, including cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke, germs, bacteria, viruses, mold, mildew and fungi, pollen, household dust, dust mites, odors from pets, smoke, mold, mildew, exhaust fumes, food, sweat, chemicals from cleaning products, solvents, furnishings, clothing and construction.

From the floor of the House of Representatives, indoor air pollution has been called our greatest environmental health problem.  Some of the most polluted air you breathe isn’t in your downtown cities, but right in your own home!

* Families are spending more than 90% of their time indoors.

* The energy crisis of the 70’s, brought the indoor air crisis of today.  Now, studies show that the air inside your home may be 5 times more polluted, than the air outside your home.

* The term “sick building syndrome” is now a part of American vocabulary, as a way to describe this disease.

Health Effects

The negative health effects of breathing in these pollutants include dizziness, irritability, coughing, sneezing, dry eyes, , hay fever, allergies, asthma symptoms, sinus problems, ear infections, depression, fatigue, headaches, nausea, breathing problems, respiratory infections, and more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

* 20% of all employees have a major illness, related to indoor air pollution, such as allergies, asthma, auto-immune diseases, etc.

* Billions of dollars are spent annually, for medication to help Americans breathe or cure their respiratory illnesses.

* The EPA estimates an 18% annual production loss to American businesses, due to poor indoor air quality.

Where Does Indoor Air Pollution Come From

You might be saying, I keep a very clean house, how can I have allergens and pollutants in my home? Where are they coming from?  Below is a list of the most common household allergens and pollutants, found in the average American’s home.

Dust

Inside your home, about 40 pounds of dust is generated, per every 1500 square feet, every year.  Each speck of dust, acts as a means of locomotion, providing transportation into your lungs.  In other words, this airborne highway is open for these 40,000 dust mites and illness-causing bacteria, viruses and germs, to travel freely right into your body, causing a multitude of cumulative, undesireable health effects

Pillows and Blankets

Over 50% of the weight of an average pillow is made up of dust mites!

People

The amazing fact is, people shed more skin than any other animal.  Yes, even way more than your pets.  Approximately 80% of what you see floating in the rays of light in your home is dead human skin.  We can only see about 10% of airborne pollutants, and the rest is too small to see….BUT, not too small to inhale!  Dust mites are very much alive and human skin lends itself as their primary food source. And, each flake of dead skin contains a multitude of them.  Talk about “food for thought”!

Humid Environments

Mold spores, bacteria and mildew, thrive on dampened towels, wash cloths, wet sponges as well as all other moist, humid areas.

Mattresses and Other Household Furnishings

Most of your household furnishings are treated with fire retardants and other chemicals, adding to the cesspool of chemical vapors we breathe into our bodies, each and every day.  Additionally, as already mentioned, mattresses and pillows are havens for dust mites, which are one of the main allergen triggers in many sufferers.

Pets

Airborne animal dander (which is dried spit that breaks off the end of the animal’s hair, and floats in the air) is a common trigger for allergies and asthma.

HVAC Systems

Your home’s HVAC system (heating, ventilation and cooling) creates a truly artificial environment.  HVAC systems strip your home’s air of all the natural elements that make outdoor mountain air so healthy and invigorating, while at the same time adding harmful elements to the air.  Air ducts are a prime breeding ground for mold and spores.  Unfortunately few people ever clean them.

Carpet, Plywood and Other Building Materials

 That “new” smell you notice after new carpet is laid, as well as newly painted walls and other remodeling, is actually highly toxic off-gassing of all the caustic chemicals that were used to treat or produce these products.  A new carpet can off-gas for 6 full months, and has been directly linked to many ill and often permanent health effects in young children, who spend lots of time playing on the floor.

Household Cleaners and Other Common Household Products

We literally poison the very air we breathe, with chemical fumes and toxins, when we choose to use chemical household cleaners, chemical personal products, fabric dryer sheets, products coated with insecticide and pesticides, etc.  Just imagine a hotel or motel room that literally gets saturated every day with industrial-strength cleaning products each and every day.  Are you doing this in your own living spaces?  Out of the more than 600 active ingredients in these products, incredibly the EPA has only reviewed 4 for their safety!

Smoking

Smoking leaves the air dense with cancer-causing toxins.  Even by smoking outside, toxins from the multitude of chemicals emitted into the smoke cling to clothing, and you bring these toxins back into your living and breathing spaces when you return back into your home.  (or vehicle, work, etc)  Studies have shown that second-hand smoke is up to 4 times more carcinogenic than smoke inhaled directly from the cigarette.  This is because smokers are breathing in the smoke through a filter, whereas non-smokers are not.

Food

Whether inside the refrigerator, or on the counter, food serves as a breeding ground for bacteria and mold spores.  These end up floating into the air we breathe.  Our kitchen trash contributes huge volumes of illness-causing bacteria to our indoor air.

How To Minimize Indoor Pollution

*To help minimize and greatly reduce your indoor pollution, you need to reduce and/or eliminate the causes.

*Eliminate chemical household products and either make your own, or choose natural, organic versions.

*Purchase organic produce and foods.

*Keep your kitchen trash in a tightly sealed can, and preferably under a closed cabinet.

*Groom your pets regularly, and preferably outside.

*Opt for organic bedding and other household products whenever possible.

*Don’t smoke.

*Choose environmental-friendly paints, carpets and other building materials.

*Open windows every day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, to purge your home’s air of toxic air build-up.

*Investing in several quality air-purifiers is highly recommended.

In today’s world, we are constantly inundated with toxins, chemicals and a multitude of pollutants each and every day.  By being vigilant of how we keep our living spaces, we can do much to greatly reduce these harmful by-products, as well as reduce the amounts of toxins and pollutants themselves.  Living as naturally as we can, means living as healthy as we can.

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

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