Living indoor air quality militant

Published on February 20th, 2014 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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Getting Militant about Indoor Air Quality

indoor air quality militant

Yes, I know: indoor air is much dirtier than outdoor air. We don’t ventilate our homes nearly enough. We use chemicals for everything, many of which contain volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants to go straight into the air. We use natural gas appliances, which create risks for unhealthy, even dangerous, carbon monoxide levels. And that just scratches the surface…

When I say “We” above, I mean “We” – yes, I make efforts to keep our air quality high in the home, but there’s always a trade-off, isn’t there? It’s certainly more convenient to use prepared cleaning supplies rather than make your own. Running the vacuum cleaner is easier than mopping, even though the vacuum (even our Kirby) will send particles airborne. Why open windows when you’ve got central air…

But life throws you curveballs… and they often entail a reconsideration of what’s “easy.” In my case, I’ve got a three-month old grandson who was born prematurely… and, as with many preemies, that means his respiratory system is, and will be, much more sensitive to pollutants. So, Grandpa Jeff’s turning into a clean indoor air militant…

How to Make Sure Your Grandchild is Breathing Clean Indoor Air

  • Kick the Chemical Cleaning Products to Curb: That fresh pine smell isn’t so healthy: fragrances in general fall into the category of “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs). Other chemicals may produce fumes, especially when mixed together. The easiest way to avoid all of this is to get rid of the prepared chemical cleaners, and make your own from easily-available ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, distilled water, and hydrogen peroxide. You may also consider steam cleaning…
  • Dust: Just do it (with a minimally toxic dusting product, of course).
  • Don’t Smoke ‘Em if You’ve Got ‘Em: Or, at least, take ‘em outside. And when it’s cool out, designate a “smoking jacket” that you won’t wear around the house.
  • Get a Carbon Monoxide Detector: Yeah, even this militant won’t be replacing all the gas appliances… but I will be getting a new carbon monoxide detector to ensure that we’re safe from this dangerous pollutant.
  • Skip the Romantic Fires: Fortunately, the fireplaces in our old house are sealed off. If you’ve got a wood-burning fireplace, leave it be… get an outdoor pit if you must have some time by the fire.
  • Go Crazy with the Houseplants: Not only do they bring a little green inside, but a number of houseplants can assist you in the battle for cleaner indoor air. And if you really, really don’t have a green thumb, you can even consider using a plant service like Growing Roots (in the US) or Gaddys indoor plant hire (in Australia).
  • Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!: Yes, open the windows. And turn on the venting hood above the stove. And make sure your dryer is venting to the outdoors well. And make sure your bathroom ventilation is getting moisture out so mold and mildew (which will also affect air quality) aren’t sneaking into your home.
  • Get an air purifier?: Well, maybe… many of them don’t really do a whole lot. Check Consumer Reports for their reviews of air purifiers (for which you need a subscription).

OK, even this militant will have to make some choices, but I’m glad we’re thinking about these things before the little guy comes home. What have you done to make sure the air in your home is as clean as possible? Share your ideas with us in the comments…

This post was generously sponsored by Gaddy’s Indoor Plant Hire.

Image credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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