How Clean Is The Air You Are Breathing?

United States
March 13, 2007 1:35am CST
How safe is the air that you breath at work, home and in your vehicle or even where you shop? Did you know that many of the products we use in our homes, at school, or in the office can contain or release chemicals into the air. In fact, many cleaners, paints, and other such products have a warning on the container, warning users that the product should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Please always make sure to read the label of the cleaners, paints, and other similar products prior to using and always follow the manufacturer's instructions. To help improve air quality, look for the following on the labels of the products you purchase: Use products that do not contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or that contain very low amounts of these compounds. Avoid using aerosol products or equipment such as paint sprayers whenever possible. Look for and use water based products, such as water-based paints. Ensure all products containing VOCs are stored safely in your home in airtight containers. I have asthma and allergies and I have to be very careful to keep the air in my home as clean as possible. The damp winter that we had this winter has caused some mold on my dresser in the spare bedroom. Mold and mildew can be found anywhere moisture is present. Mold is spread through the production of tiny spores, which are transported by air currents. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they usually begin growing, actually digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. There are molds that can grow on foods, wood, paper, and even carpet. It is difficult to kill and it will multiply if you do not kill it. Experts advise that there is no practical way to eliminate all potential sources of mold indoors. Therefore, they recommend homeowners instead focus on controlling moisture. We are going to be purchasing a dehumidifier for our home before next winter. By controlling moisture, we can frequently also control mold growth. One way to reduce moisture is to keep indoor humidity levels at 30-60%. Products such as dehumidifiers will help control moisture levels in basements and homes located in humid climates. Also, it is very important to make sure bathroom fans and dryer vents are vented outside of the home. Many people think that the heat form the dryer will heat the home but it will only cause more problems with mold and you don’t want that. Finally, try to use your exhaust fan whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning to remove excess moisture from the air. In order to prevent mold growth, it's important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours. If mold is a problem in your home, the contaminated areas will need to be thoroughly cleaned. Mold can be washed off most hard surfaces with detergent and water, and the surface should be allowed to dry completely. Sometimes, absorbent materials that have become contaminated with mold, such as ceiling tiles or carpets, may need to be disposed of and replaced. To prevent the mold from coming back, make sure potential sources of moisture, such as leaky plumbing, are corrected as soon as possible. Some of the potential health effects associated with exposure to mold include asthma and other respiratory problems. It can cause serious medical problems for you and your family. Plants and trees are an important part of the air quality cycle, as they help purify our air and even protect our water and soil. Planting a tree is probably one of the most popular ways that people observe Earth Day. There are many different kinds of plants and trees available for planting in our communities. If you are unsure what type of plant or tree would be best, contact your County Extension Office, or local nursery to see which ones are best suited for your climate and growing conditions. We even have evergreen vines growing up the wall on our porch. The wall is made of rock from our land and the vines help to clean the air. Also trees and vines will help keep down the noise in the neighborhood. It is amazing how it blocks the noise. I know because the deer eat the leaves off in the winter and it makes a great difference till they grow back in the spring
4 people like this
19 responses
@Willowlady (10666)
• United States
13 Mar 07
This is good advice when you have some control. The following is about plants that you can include in whatever environment to help you with your air quality. Thanks for letting me share!! It is suggested that one plant should be allowed for approximately 10 square yards of floor space, assuming average ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet. This means that you need two or three plants to contribute to good air quality in the average domestic living room of about 20 to 25 square yards. Research has shown that these 10 plants are the most effective all-around in counteracting offgassed chemicals and contributing to balanced internal humidity. * Areca palm * Reed palm * Dwarf date palm * Boston fern * Janet Craig dracaena * English ivy * Australian sword fern * Peace Lily * Rubber plant * Weeping fig Although many plants like light, they do not all have to be placed near windows. Many indoor plants originated in the dense shade of tropical forests and have a high rate of photosynthesis. These are ideal for the home and can be placed in darker corners. When positioning plants, try to strike a balance between light and ventilation because the effect of plants on indoor air pollution appears to be reduced if they are set in a draft.
2 people like this
• United States
13 Mar 07
Thanks for adding the plant info
@CatNPK (461)
• United States
13 Mar 07
Wonderful info, thank you! I love plants, and I have tried to grow my little "indoor jungle" to help with wintertime air quality. You mentioned several I did not know about before. What is great about these plants is also how easy most are to care for. My rubber plant was purchased at just 2" tall, and about two years later it now tops over 1 foot in spite of neglect - it spent 3 months at a relative's house while I was travelling, etc. One day I hope it will occupy one of my multi-gallon containers. I love English ivy, but here in Washington State it is an invasive plant outside - thus all the more reason to keep it in a container inside.
1 person likes this
@CatNPK (461)
• United States
13 Mar 07
Thank you for such a substantial discussion entry! Here in Washington State mold seems to always be a problem, even when I think I've gotten rid of it. Killing the mold that frequently pops up in my bathroom, especially in my current residence which doesn't have a fan, basically involves chemicals that are just as bad. I would add that for a $10/6 months membership fee you can get 10 free trees delivered, hand picked from your area. Go to www.arborday.org for more information. Check with your municipality as well - in my town there is a great free program where they help you select free trees to plant in your garden, as long as they are along a public street. Also, look for cleaning chemicals from companies such as 7th Generation which are always biodegradable, chlorine and petroleum free, etc.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Mar 07
We make most of our cleaning supplies and I have posted the recipe for many of them.
@CatNPK (461)
• United States
14 Mar 07
I'll have to check those out. My favorite cleaning chemicals involve various combinations of vinegar, lemon, and baking soda. They take care of almost everything except mold, which is my worst enemy right now.
• United States
14 Mar 07
I am not downplaying the problem by any means but having lived in urban China gives a me a different perspective on this. While the air condition is just plain filthy and disgusting, I rarely hear of people having health issues with it. I personally have never experienced any problems. I wonder why that is?
• United States
14 Mar 07
That is very weird indeed. Maybe the air is poluted with different kinds of pollution.
@Trinka26 (171)
• United States
13 Mar 07
I can really relate to this discussion. I am living in a very damp cabin at present, and I've had to fight with mold and mildew. It has grown on the walls behind furniture and on the inside of a wardrobe. I've used a commercial spray that is supposed to kill it, but it seems to come back in the same places after a few weeks.
• United States
13 Mar 07
You might want to invest in a dehumidifier. It would take care of the moisture and the mold cannot grow.
@ydnac22 (804)
• Philippines
13 Mar 07
im living here in the crowded city of manila and we have a very pulluted air here. soooo sad :)
1 person likes this
@Zalvor (727)
• Turkey
13 Mar 07
It's not like I have much choice, but to keep breathing, whatever the conditions. If I was doing better financially I could consider moving somewhere else. I was reminded of the movie Total Recall. When the protagonist first arrives on Mars, we hear the news on the background, claiming that prices for *air* have increased again. (Air is sold, due to hostile atmospheric conditions of Mars) Maybe we could buy individual air tanks, just to be sure we're breathing some fresh air! :)
@cher913 (25884)
• Canada
13 Mar 07
I have heard it said that the air inside our house is worse than the air outside! I don't know how true that is...but the city in which I live is an industrial one and the air gets pretty icky here in the humidity of the summer.
1 person likes this
@RobinJ (2501)
• Canada
13 Mar 07
Good morning, great discussion, I am very fortunate as I have very little problems with mold and I live in a very rainy area, I didn't think I had allergy's until I went down to the underground parking and went into the carpentry shop(last used in 1990) to find some wood and darn near lost my breath for a week. I could smell mold as I was looking and it became worse the longer i stayed down there. I left and have not gone in there since, The underground parking has lattice cement walls to have circulation but not the carpentry shop. It was awful. my lungs felt as if I was breathing through a wet towel. So I avoid places like that now. So thank you for the information it was very interesting.
@AskAlly (3627)
• Canada
13 Mar 07
Yes it is certainly suprizing to find out what we really are breathing isn't it. My house is old! At least by North American standards. We did a reno awhile back. I have never had carpet just old hard wood floors. Luckily we did not have mold. Spider Plants in your home are good air purifiers. And are simple to grow.
1 person likes this
@kgwat70 (13395)
• United States
13 Mar 07
I know from hearing reports and other people that the air in Delaware is not very good because of all the chemical plants and factories here in my state. It is the reason why so many people have allergy problems and sinus problems. I wish there was something they could do to make the air better and safer to breath. That is the one thing that I do not like about living here otherwise it is a great place to live.
1 person likes this
@winterose (39914)
• Canada
13 Mar 07
the air is not that clean in montreal, many people have asthma because of it. I have chronic bronchitis myself. I wish the companies and car owners would be more responsible for the environment than they are.
1 person likes this
@radzlee (77)
• Malaysia
11 Sep 08
Do we notice or not, we all everyday expose wiht unhealthy indoor air such:- a)Microbials:microscopics bacteria, fungi and mold-often thriving in heating and air conditioning ducts and vents. b)Odors and Gases: animals odors,smelly sports and camping equipment plus fumes constantly escaping from carpets, upholstery, drapes, furniture,cleaning materials and more. Do we know that indoor air pollution at home, at work or the roadcan cause or worsen: - eye and skin irritation - nose and throat discomfort - lung irritation - unpleasnatness from offensive odors - fatigue The Perfect Solution: Its all about cleaning up our indoor environment-where we go-with a filter-less, potrable air purifier that reduces microbial as well as odors and gases. The AirSource Mobile goes anywhere you go and cleans and freshens the air up to 300 square feet (28 square meters). so lets make our air quality...FIRST CLASS.. pls. logon for more detail at http://secret-healthwellness.com/blog
• India
14 Mar 07
thanks for your information. we live in india and there is so much dust here
• Philippines
14 Mar 07
Well,I am not sure about how clean the air I am breathing in but I know it is not clean anymore. It is very polluted from smoke belchers, smokers and other factories..I work on the 30th floor of our building and when morning comes we see the sky is divided above is the clean air and you can see a darker portion on the city which shows the polluted air we breath in. We have plants in front of our house though.I know plants help clean the air.Our whole family loves plants..and I know it helps.
• India
14 Mar 07
It is a pity that we humans have ruined the planet by polluting the air and surroundings..
• United States
14 Mar 07
This looks a lot like an article that I've read on another site, too... about how unhealthy indoor air can be. Did you see that one?
@AnnaB87 (761)
• United States
14 Mar 07
I am afraid the air that I breathe is not very healthy, I need to have some plants and I need to just live in a better house, I am hoping I don't get sick from the air I breathe and I hope that no one else does either, Since there is not much I cab do about the air I breathe right now I try to just not worry about it, I think worry makes you sick too,
• Philippines
14 Mar 07
well air pollution is very severe in our planet now. adn i know that this is all man made. beause of progress adn technology. but we also knew what to do to fix the rpboem . so why jsut that we do what our obligations to our planet. because we have no place w can transfer to live our life.
• United States
14 Mar 07
Wow, what a list. I knew some of these things, but not everything. Appreciate you giving all of us this info. Thank you.