Cleaning Up Air Pollution: Starting at Home
The United Nations (UN) cites air pollution as the single greatest environmental risk to human health and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally. Air pollution disproportionately affects women, children and older persons, and also has a negative impact on ecosystems.
Top Causes of Air Pollution
Air pollution is essentially caused by certain gasses and airborne chemicals getting trapped in our atmosphere, negatively affecting our health and the health of the planet. These gasses, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are released into the air through the burning of wood and fossil fuels such as coal, gas, petroleum and natural gas by cars and trucks, factories, power plants incinerators, engines and oil/gas drilling. Soot, tiny particles of chemicals, smoke, dust, mold spores, and ash from wildfires are also major contributors to air pollution.
Refrigerant chemicals are the number one air pollutant responsible for creating the hole in our ozone layer currently above Antarctica. The ozone layer protects us from the sun's UVB rays, and without it, humans face higher risks of skin cancer, growth and development of plants are restricted, the development of fish and amphibians slows down, phytoplankton populations decrease and the breakdown of natural and synthetic materials accelerates.
The Truth about In-Home Air Pollution
Even if you don’t live in a city where smog (a mixture of pollutants made up mostly of ground level ozone) is a frequent problem, you may feel that you are safe from most air pollutants when indoors. Unfortunately, indoor air pollution can be just as, if not more, dangerous than outdoor air pollution.
While many modern buildings have been built to energy efficiency standards, most do not provide for proper airflow. The chemicals in household products - like air fresheners, candles, paint, bleach, soap, shampoo, glue, perfume, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, hairspray - basically any aerosol products or spray cleaners - can seriously irritate our lungs. Other in-home air pollutants include plastic, fiber and rubber from furnishings and building materials like ovens ,mattresses and carpet.
Several studies have linked exposure to these chemicals with asthma, rhinitis and other respiratory illnesses - particularly frequent exposure for newborns and babies within the first three months of life, according to a study by Simon Fraser University. A 20-year long study conducted in Norway by the University of Bergen even found that using cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
Eliminating the harmful chemicals in your home is key. You can visit EWG to learn more about they safety of your materials used in your home and clean product alternatives Another way to improve the air quality in your home is to stock up on a variety of plants at your local greenhouse. NASA recommends that you have two or three plants in 8 to 10-inch pots for every 100 square feet. House plants can absorb harmful toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide and ammonia.
Some of the best air filtering, yet easier to take care of, houseplants include:
- Spider plants
- Golden pothos
- Areca palms
Other ways you can maintain healthy air quality in your home is by getting a high-performing air purification system - our favorite is the AIRDoctor , vacuuming and mopping regularly, avoiding synthetic cleaners and air fresheners, and increasing ventilation where/when possible.
Clean Air Initiatives to Get Behind
In 2019, the UN launched their Clean Air Initiative, calling on national and subnational governments to commit to achieving air quality that is safe for citizens, and to align climate change and air pollution policies by 2030.
As a leading authority on the Clean Air Act for more than four decades, the NRDC has been fighting tirelessly in Congress and the courts to ensure this bedrock environmental law stays strong to protect Americans from pollution. At C & The Moon, we're proud to donate a portion of our proceeds towards supporting the NRDC's efforts because although we believe real change starts in the home, we know that systemic change is crucial.
The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Carson Meyer nor C & The Moon LLC are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.