Tag Archive | "indoor air quality"

More Pollution Indoors

More Pollution Indoors than Out?

This was written by Felicia Baratz of Eat Breathe Blog.

When we think of air pollution, we tend to think of smog smothering cities and plumes of exhaust chugging out of factories and vehicles every day. But for all that industrial imagery, the worst pollution may be in the air you breathe in the comfort of your own home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution can be much worse than what you face outdoors – approximately two to five times worse, according to research.

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But many people are unaware of the factors that contribute to indoor air pollution. As a result, these pollutants continue to pose a threat in many homes. In order to protect yourself and your family from the potential health complications of breathing highly polluted indoor air, you need to understand the source of these pollutants. Here are the most common causes.


Image courtesy of Gusset 

Stagnant Air

A lack of air circulation in the home can allow dust and other air contaminants to settle indoors and be continually recycled as a home’s residents inhale and exhale. This creates the potential for long-term respiratory problems. Simple solutions include opening the windows when the weather is nice and circulating air through your furnace or air conditioner.

Poor Air Filtration

The flip side to air circulation is that, in order for it be effective, you need to have functioning filters in place. Air conditioner filters and furnace filters can strain dust, dander and other pollutants out of the air, but they fill up over time and become less effective the longer they’re used. Make sure you replace air conditioner and furnace filters as they get old to keep these air cleansing features effective.

Combustibles

Wood-burning fireplaces and gas stoves may have an aesthetic appeal, but they can fill your home with unhealthy burning by-products. Proper ventilation can go a long way toward minimizing the impact these features can have on your home, but abstaining from or limiting their use will decrease the amount of pollutants they put into your air.

Cleaning Products

Harsh chemicals and cleaning products can give off fumes that can be inhaled without even realizing it. Stick to non-toxic chemicals whenever possible and keep rooms well-ventilated when those products are in use. Even seemingly safe products like air fresheners work essentially by releasing pollutants into your air, so keep in mind the potential air quality effects when using these products in your home.

Outdoor Sources

It’s possible for outdoor air pollution sources to enter the home and contribute to poor interior conditions. One of the most common outdoor influences is radon, a radioactive gas that can enter into the home from underground. Radon is odorless and can only be confirmed by performing radon testing in the home, but if found there are ways to install ventilation that will keep radon out of your home.

Although indoor air quality tends to be poor in relation to the outdoors, awareness of this unseen threat can allow for simple, proactive steps to be taken that dramatically improve air quality. Whether it’s cracking a window or replacing an air filter, small steps can go a long way toward preserving your long-term health. In extreme cases, you might be able to reduce the risk of chronic respiratory problems that can reduce your quality of life.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Greener Air is Cleaner Air

Greener Air is Cleaner Air

This was written by Felicia Baratz of Eat Breathe Blog.

When it comes to the topic of clean air, many people think about the air outside. But indoor air quality also has a significant impact on your health and the environment.

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Pollutants in the home, such as tobacco smoke, fumes and chemicals from cleaning products, and automobile affect the environment around you. They are also factors contributing to increased incidences of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other upper respiratory problems. Being proactive can result in cleaner, greener air in your home, which can keep you and the environment healthy and safe.

Tips for getting cleaner, greener air

Keep a clean home. Cleaning your home prevents air filters from becoming clogged with dust, which, in turn, helps your heating and air conditioning system run more efficiently. Use environmentally friendly cleaners or make your own homemade natural cleaners, rather than introduce toxic household cleaners into your environment. Diluted solutions made with vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean most every surface.

Change air filters, clean ventilation systems. Regularly changing the air filters in your heating and air conditioning unit is a vital practice to maintain clean air. Choose an air filter that removes allergens, such as pollen and mold spores and dust mite debris. Have heating and cooling systems serviced annually, to reveal any potential problems that could be compromising your air quality.

Quit smoking. Tobacco products of any kind are quite dangerous in your home. In this day and age, most everyone knows that smoking or chewing tobacco is bad for their health. But secondhand smoke is equally dangerous for others in your home. Sending a smoker outdoors to smoke isn’t any better. Recently, experts have begun discussing the impact of ‘thirdhand smoke,’ residual toxins that are left behind on a smoker’s clothes or hands and that clings to other surfaces.

Be cautious when using heaters. Indoor kerosene or gas space heaters can emit pollutants, so if you’re using one, crack a window and don’t keep the heater in a closed room, where fumes can build-up. If your home has a fireplace, have your chimney inspected for any defects that could cause fumes to back-up into your living space. Wood-burning stoves require additional precautionary measures.

Be careful with your car. You may be tempted to run your car for a little bit when it’s cold outdoors, but move the car out of the garage first. Carbon monoxide fumes can be lethal, and they’re also very bad for the environment.

Improve air quality naturally. Plants add visual beauty to your home and they also help improve air quality. Houseplants release oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the air to naturally improve air quality. Add half a dozen or more average-sized houseplants throughout a three-bedroom home to sufficiently improve air quality.

Image courtesy of yewenyi

Breathe easily and safely

Except for smoke and dust, bad air quality is often invisible. Pollutants from chemical-based cleaners can impact the air you breathe inside while damaging the environment. Changing the air filters in your home is important, but other steps must be taken to keep the air you breathe clean. Incorporate green practices in your home and use environmentally friendly products to reduce or eliminate chemical exposure. Even though you may not see the difference, your body will benefit by breathing cleaner, greener air and so will the environment.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Get Healthier Air in Schools with Electrostatic Furnace Filters

Get Healthier Air in Schools with Electrostatic Furnace Filters

Parents want their children to be safe and healthy. Unfortunately, some dangers cannot be seen to avoid. This includes the air quality in their classrooms. Children spend many hours in school and the low quality of indoor air can really affect their growing lungs. Several schools across the country are realizing the importance of fixing indoor air pollution and saving money by switching to electrostatic furnace filters.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), studies show that one-half of our nation’s 115,000 schools have problems linked to indoor air quality. As children’s lungs are still developing well into their teen years air quality in their classrooms is extremely important. With the constant irritation caused by dander, lint and dust the lungs cannot function optimally. This will add to their risk of developing lung disease later in life.

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By switching to a permanent solution for filtering your heating and cooling systems you can ensure healthier air for your students and faculty. Some of the benefits of using this type of furnace filter include the reduction of mold, pollen and dust. This is extremely beneficial for students with asthma and allergies.

What are electrostatic furnace filters?

Electrostatic furnace filters, also known as permanent filters, washable filters or lifetime filters, use the friction caused by air flow passing through a filter to attract air particles with a static charge. This type of filter is known for collecting up to 80% of the harmful air particles in the air. It is a much more efficient filter than disposable air filters normally used.

Unfortunately, the budgets to keep schools maintained are often the first places cut in times with financial difficulties. Thankfully these furnace filters come with lifetime warranties and will easily pay for themselves within about one year. Instead of replacing your filter you simply wash it off and replace it. This makes it easier for your maintenance staff to keep all heating and cooling systems running as efficiently as possible. In addition to being cost effective as these types of furnace filters will replace your school’s need to buy disposable filters, they will filter the air ten times better.

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5 Plants to Keep in Your Home Instead of Air Fresheners

5 Plants to Keep in Your Home Instead of Air Fresheners

This guest post is by Heather Green of OnlineNursingDegrees.org.

Commercial air fresheners contain a number of chemicals that can be harmful for you and your family — as well as the environment. Many air fresheners will literally blow chemicals into the air, spreading them onto the surfaces in your home and allowing them to be breathed in by your family and pets.

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There are many plants you can keep in your home instead that will clean the air of odors and chemicals, making it safer for your family to breathe the air while also eliminating unfavorable odors. While organic air fresheners are available, there quality cannot always be certain. However, you can always be sure that natural plants will put nothing questionable into the air you breathe.

Here are 5 plants you can keep in your home instead of air fresheners to keep the air clean and smelling good:

Spider Plant

The spider plant is a perennial, meaning it will grow year round. It is natural to warm climates such as African and Australia, but it has been bred to be kept as a house plant. Many varieties thrive in a wide range of climates, making them easy to maintain. The plant grows long, thin leaves that have a light center. Some varieties form solid green leaves. Some varieties even produce flowers.

English Ivy

English Ivy is a beautiful evergreen plant that climbs where vertical surfaces are available. Given the right conditions, it can grow to as high as 30 meters. The plant will grow along the ground if vertical surfaces are not available. English Ivy can grow out of control in a garden, and can become a nuisance as an indoor plant if not trimmed back regularly. However, if properly maintained, the plant can create a stunning centerpiece that works double duty by cleaning the air.

Weeping Fig

Also known simply as a Ficus, the Weeping Fig is a species of the fig tree that produces small fruits. The tree is native to Asia and Australia, but it thrives in a variety of climates.

The Weeping Fig is a popular house plant because it can withstand poor conditions and does not require much maintenance. It can be grown in sun or shade (though it prefers bright and sunny conditions), and it only needs a moderate amount of watering. Many also prefer the look of the Weeping Fig, which looks nice in a variety of design schemes.

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a beautiful and elegant white flower with a single petal and a golden rod in the center. Not only does the flower make a beautiful addition to any room — while also cleaning the air — but it is also easy to care for and does not need much light or water to thrive. They are perennials, so they thrive throughout the year.

Snake Plant

Similar to the spider plant, the snake plant grows long, green leaves. However, instead of having lighter lines running down the center, the snake plant features lighter lines around the edges of the leaves, which stand up straight and are slightly broader. Snake plant gets its name for the sharp points on the ends of its leaves. Snake plant is another perennial that will thrive all year. It also doesn’t need much care and can survive in low light levels and without much water.

Adding any of these plants to your home can help you clean the air naturally so that you can free your home of harmful chemicals. Include as many as 3 to 4 plants per room for the most benefit, but don’t feel like you have to be restrained. The plants are easy to care for and brighten up any room, so you can easily add as many as you like.
What’s your favorite air-cleaning plants? Share your picks in the comments!

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Improve Indoor Air Quality

Quick Fixes to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

This guest post is by Kelli Cooper of Erik Organic, an organic furniture company.

Our bodies are designed to protect us from harmful substances and expel of them as quickly as possible. But, with constant and frequent exposure to these various nefarious forces, it might not be able to protect us fully. It then becomes our job to minimize our exposure as best we can. One of the biggest threats to our health is the air we breathe, not just outside but inside our own homes. If you are looking to improve the air quality in your house, here are some relatively quick and easy ways to do so.

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Get Plants

One of the simplest ways to improve air quality is to get some plants for your house, but not just any plants. Certain ones have been found to be particularly good at absorbing harmful chemicals and other substances commonly found in the air. A two-year study by NASA found the following 15 plants were most efficient at cleansing the air: English ivy, spider plant, golden pothos, peace lily, Chinese evergreen, bamboo or reed palm, snake plant, heartleaf philodendron, selloum philodendron, elephant ear philodendron, red-edged dracaena, cornstalk dracaena, Janet Craig dracaena, Warneck dracaena and the weeping fig.

To give you an idea of how many plants you should have, NASA recommends 15 to 18 plants for a 1,800 sq foot area.

Keep Those Dirty Shoes Out

Lord knows what we are collecting on the bottom of our feet as we go about our day. Get some nice big mats for people to wipe their feet on before they come into the house. Even better, leave the shoes at the door, no matter how clean they may seem. This seemingly small step can make a big difference and it does not cost a dime.

Stop Using Air Fresheners and Other Products with Artificial Odors

We all like our house to smell nice but a lot of the products that accomplish this goal are bad for your health. According to WebMD, one study of a plug-in air freshener was found to contain 20 volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, potentially dangerous chemicals when inhaled. Seven of these VOCs are considered toxic or hazardous.

Use non-scented or naturally scented laundry detergents. With the popularity of organic and natural products ever growing, you can find many natural air fresheners in various forms. Use baking soda and lemon to get that fresh, clean smell in the kitchen.

Remember to Open Your Windows Every Day

Another easy fix but that we may not think about, especially if it is colder outside or we are running the air conditioning all day. Opening some windows in your house for even as little as five or 10 minutes a day can help sweep out toxic substances floating around your house. Encourage a nice cross breeze by opening windows opposite each other when you can.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers..

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Filter Your Air with the Power of Plants

The Andrea Air Purifier ($195) is not only beautiful, but is 40 times more effective than HEPA or carbon filters. Now looking at it, it's obviously more attractive than the typical air purifier you'll find in any electronics store, but you might be wondering why not just get a house plant? A house plant will clean your air, but it is nowhere near as effective as the Andrea Air Purifier. Using a fan, the air is sucked through the plant filter and propels it through the leaves and root system of a plant, and then back out through water and soil filtration into the air of  a room.

Andrea Air Purifier is Perfect for Any Room in the House.

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A Little History About Plant-Based Air Purification

Airborne toxins are filtered through the leaves and roots of any plant.Designer Mathieu Lehanneur and Harvard professor David Edwards invented the Andrea Air Purifier. It is the first award-winning air filter capable of absorbing toxic gases, such as formaldehyde, through the natural metabolic and absorptive properties of living plants. The Andrea Air Purifier has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2008 and won the Popular Science Inventions of the Year Award.

Benefits of the Andrea Air Purifier

  • No more filter changes.
  • 40 times more efficient than HEPA and carbon filters.
  • Transforms any household plant (sold separately) into an effective air cleaner.
  • Ozone free operation.
  • Improves formaldehyde filtration effieciency by 4400% compared to plants alone.

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One Great Way to Save Energy and Improve Air Quality

Former Oklahoma University researcher suggests how geothermal heat pumps save energy and enhance the quality of air. Are you aware that Gerald McClain, after numerous decades working with geothermal energy pioneer James Bose at Oklahoma State College, has invented a new home geothermal cooling and heating model? 

A split-system heat pump heating cycle.

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Heat pumps work as a refrigerator in reverse; they normally use electrical power to move heat from one place to another rather than producing heat directly. Consequently, they can be two to three times more power efficient than conventional electric heating units. 

A geothermal heat pump is a central heating and/or cooling system that pumps heat to/or from the soil. It uses the ground as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). The geothermal pump models are among the most energy efficient solutions for providing HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) and water heating. The setup prices are higher than classic systems (close to $45,000 reduced by 30 percent with federal tax credit), but the difference is normally returned in energy savings in 3 to 10 years. 
How a Split Air Conditioning Pump Works.
 
The Gerald McClain's geothermal system is based on: 
  • 6 one inch diameter pipes sunk three hundred feet into the soft red clay below his home 
  • A water antifreeze mix in the pipes that picks up the ground's constant 62 degree F. temperature 
  • 3 heat pumps in the attic that use a small electric powered compressor to heat or cool the home 
The electricity for the pumps costs approximately $100 monthly, much less than the standard heating and cooling bill in the area. A well managed heat pump unit not only will help you save energy, but will also blow dust into the house, improving indoor air quality. Indoor dust can pose health risks, especially to young kids. New studies (As posted in the epa.gov site in Sept last year) show that indoor dust is highly contaminated by persistent and endocrine disrupting chemical compounds (such as poly-chlorinated biphenyls). 
 
Heat pumps achieve energy performance by moving heat around as opposed to liberating it. This is not to say there is no air motion with a heat pump, but the heat transfer decreases that process. So does the lack of a cold-cycle as it exists in many common heaters, which also acts to blow dust through the house. 
 
The author – Lorie Wampler contributes articles for the heat pumps ratings blog. It's a non profit web site focused on her personal experience with ac to lower energy usage and improve indoor air quality. With this she would like to increase the awareness on eco-friendly tips for the home and change the general public conception of energy efficiency.

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Clean Coal Air Freshener

When it comes to making cutting edge films like "Fargo," "No Country for Old Men," and "The Big Lebowski," Joel and Ethan Coen are the real deal.

Now, they've got one more title on that impressive list.

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"Air Freshener" is directed by the Coen brothers, and we're proud to say it's Reality's latest ad — calling out the coal industry's ridiculous claims that coal is clean as only the Coen brothers can. Watch it now:

 

 

 

 

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