How to Improve Indoor Air Quality, Naturally

Take Steps to Breath Easier and Prevent Health Concerns

Home and office air quality can become unfavorable by the introduction of chemicals, molds, and other pollutants. Natural solutions benefit humans and the planet.

Fall and winter are especially tough times for indoor air quality in homes and offices found in colder climate regions. With the windows closed up for months at a time the house has very poor ventilation during a season riddled with viruses and germs.

In addition to airborne germs and viruses, some homes suffer from moisture control issues and start to develop mold and mildew pollutants. A damp home is also breeding grounds for mites, roaches and rodents. The EPA recommends controlling humidity levels in the home to reduce growth of sources of these biological contaminants. Solutions might include a dehumidifier in basements and moist areas of the home, adding a salt lamp to damp rooms, and removing sources of standing water anywhere indoors.

The founder of the Healthy Home Institute, John Bower, is quoted on indoor air quality as having said “Walking into a modern building can sometimes be compared to placing your head inside a plastic bag that is filled with toxic fumes.”

Air Cleaning Plants

There are many electronic air cleaner and purifiers on the market that can be purchased in a department or hardware store. But nature’s own air cleaners are plants – some plants are effective in refreshing indoor air, naturally. Some of these houseplants that clean air include:

Palms – areca, reed and dwarf date varieties
Ferns – Boston, Australian sword, pteris (aka “table fern”), and others from the nephrolepis species
Pothos – golden (epipremnum aureum)
Spider plant (chlorophytum comosum ‘vittatum’)
Peace lily (spathiphyllum species)
Chinese evergreen (aglaonema modestum ‘Silver Queen’)
Ficus – Alii (ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’), Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica), and Weeping fig (ficus benjamina)

Air Fresheners – Chemical-free Aromatherapy for the Home

Many commercial air fresheners can pollute indoor air and lead to health problems for those with asthma and chemical sensitivities. A homemade potpourri can reduce this indoor air pollution, creating a wonderful smelling home without the chemicals.

Spices, herbs, flowers and other aromatic plants can be great sources of natural air fresheners. For example, one can bring the scents of autumn indoors with woodsy and peppery aromas to cleanse the air and welcome house guests. In the summer an outdoorsy combination can smell “green” and help freshen up the space.

Autumn and Winter Simmering Aromatherapy

In a pan of hot water add slices of half an apple, a few cinnamon sticks, a pinch of cloves (whole, preferably), three bay leaves, and some slices of gingerroot. This pot smells like fresh apple pie and can be simmered on the stovetop for hours. The act of simmering water also helps to replace moisture in the air, acting like a humidifier and being very sinus-friendly. The rind of a few kumquats will add a nice citrus scent to this blend and are available in the produce section of many grocery stores around the holidays.

Spring or Summer Potpourri

Grate the rind of two favorite citruses, such as grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, orange or clementines, and add to a large mixing bowl. Add a handful dried or fresh rosemary and a favorite mint leaf – catmint, spearmint and peppermint are popular. Toss in a quarter of a cup of wholes cloves and thyme leaves and mix thoroughly. Arrange in smaller bowls around the house where a fresh scent is helpful – start with the kitchen, bathrooms and living room.

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