Americans spend roughly 90% of their time indoors, even before COVID-19 hit. Growing research done by the EPA shows that air inside our own house can be more polluted than outdoor air even in the largest and most industrialized cities. That’s comforting news for those of us who are now spending what, close to a whopping 99% of our time at home?
So, if we’re experiencing higher levels of exposure to toxic air pollutants then what does that mean for our health?
Inadequate ventilation is the primary cause of air pollution indoors, but additional causes may stem from household cleaners, personal care items, building materials (paints, glues, floors, insulation), tobacco/secondhand smoking, synthetic furnishings, etc. In addition, pollutants are also found in our tap water and potentially food. The first thing we can do to protect our health is to get knowledgeable about it!
Short-Term Impacts On Health:
After just one single exposure to a pollutant impacts on health can include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. The EPA states that after exposure to harmful indoor air pollutants, symptoms of diseases like asthma may appear or be aggravated/worsened. “Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution.”
Long-Term Impacts On Health:
“Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.” Further research is needed to assess dangerous levels of various pollutants, the individualized response to air toxins, and health impacts. This advice is straight from the Environmental Protection Agency and enough to wake me up to what’s in my home!
5 Swaps For A More Toxic Free Home:
Focus on Non-Toxic Cleaning Products:
Many of our common household products are made of bleach, fragrances, formaldehyde, ammonia, and more. There is very little oversight on the chemicals used in cleaning products, but we see connections between those chemicals and diseases such as cancer, respiratory illnesses, and asthma. I use the Young Living Thieves line for all my cleaning products after realizing what was actually in my windex, dryer sheets, laundry detergent, etc. Other brands include Seventh Generation, as well as simple swaps like vinegar and baking soda based mixes.
Choose Green and Organic Materials:
Fabrics in furniture, bedsheets, clothing, and mattresses can contain heavy amounts of synthetic materials which introduce harmful chemicals into your restful places. We spend roughly ⅓ of our life asleep in bed and almost our entire life clothed, so the bedroom and closet is a great place to implement small change!
Swap Candles For Essential Oils & Air Purifiers:
Dr. Andrew Sledd, a pediatrician specializing in Environmental Toxicology, stated burning a scented candle for one hour is roughly the equivalent to your health as smoking one cigarette. This research has been enough for me to replace my beloved candles or air sprays for essential oils that actually offer health benefits instead of consequences! Young Living is again, my absolute go-to! Air purifiers additionally will remove toxins from your home instantly so you don’t even have to worry about the build up. Purifiers can be a big investment, so if that’s not in the cards for you begin by regularly changing out the filter in your HVAC/AC unit.
Filter Your Water:
As I mentioned previously, toxins can also enter the home through water sources. More and more research has come out showing that tap water may not be as safe as we think it is, especially depending on the area in which you live! The vast majority of our water supply meets legal standards, however, those standards may also not be strict enough to prevent diseases such as cancer over time. Much more research is needed and currently being done.
Store In Glass, Cook On Cast Iron:
Plastic tupperware or single use containers can release harmful toxins such as BPA, BPS, and phthalates into our foods, especially when they’re reheated. Opt for glass because it’s non-toxic, and can be reheated/cooled without worry. Cooking on pans made of teflon can also pose serious health risks because they’re made with a dangerous chemical called PCF. When scratched these release into our food which we then directly ingest. Better to choose a cast iron skillet, ceramic pots/pans, or green cookware.