Three Easy Ways to Increase Air Quality in a Home
by Carollyn Mushro
Did you know that the air quality in our homes is inferior to fresh, outdoor air? This is most commonly the result of harsh cleaning products, chemically-treated housewares, burning candles, or simply improper ventilation.
For some people, this was never more apparent than in recent months when lockdown orders forced families to spend more time in their homes than usual. According to the University of Miami research, increased levels of harmful substances were recorded in homes in the months of April and May while most sheltered in place. This degraded indoor air was marked with elevated levels of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and other harmful substances. Left untreated, these environments can lead to health effects such as immune system disorders, neurological problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, and hormonal disturbances, or respiratory ailments.
Poor air quality can be immediately apparent to a savvy homebuyer. Here are three easy ways to help sellers give their home some fresh air:
The most toxic substances in a home can usually be found in the cleaning cabinet. Used improperly, harsh cleaning products can be highly dangerous. In fact, calls to poison control increased by 20% during the COVID-19 lockdown. However, we don’t have to use potentially harmful concoctions in order to effectively sanitize our homes. Green cleaning options are safe, effective, and less expensive.
Most commercial-brand companies know that the consumer is looking for green options, and have created plenty of options on the big box shelf that may appear to be a safer option, but have simply been green-washed and given a higher price tag. Green-washing is a marketing gimmick that conveys a false impression that the company’s products are ecologically friendly.
Unfortunately, government regulations don't require ingredients to be listed on any cleaning products, so using options you likely already have in your home like vinegar, baking soda, or essential oils guarantees you know exactly what is being used in the home.
Ditch the candles and other synthetic fragrances
While it can be tempting for sellers to artificially fragrance their home in an attempt to earn the praise of a potential buyer, this process is not only dangerous but can be a turn-off. A growing body of research suggests that burning candles in the home is the new second-hand smoke. Soot particles from the candles can travel deep into the lungs, exacerbating respiratory illness, and disease. Given the poorly-ventilated areas where candles are normally burned, this problem is exacerbated.
Many synthetic chemicals used to fragrance candles, plug-ins, and air fresheners are derived from petrochemicals (petroleum-based) and can be harmful to human health. In fact, the word “fragrance” can include any trade secret combination, per the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. When a company is not required by law to divulge their full list of ingredients, they can easily hide more than 3,000 chemicals that are being absorbed, inhaled, and ingested daily by Americans.
A healthier and more welcomed alternative for today’s product-savvy consumer is diffusing essential oils in the home, or simply simmering some mulling spices on the stovetop (with proper ventilation, of course!)
Houseplants are all the rage right now. Luckily, not only are they en vogue, they’re also wonderful indoor companions because of their wellness benefits to their human housemates!
Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis, which is wonderful for humans breathing oxygen. Plants increase oxygen levels in the home, and our bodies appreciate that.
Additionally, plants increase the humidity in the atmosphere through a process known as transpiration. This increase in humidity can decrease the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats, and dry coughs, and even help prevent the transmission of viruses within the home.
Finally, being surrounded by plants brings peace and amplifies creativity, much as being in nature would. This can create a warm and inviting ambiance that sends the message that the home you are showing would be the perfect fit for your buyer!
About the Contributor
Carollyn is a wellness enthusiast living in the Chicago burbs with her husband and two children.
She loves inspiring families to find their own healthy journey through holistic modalities.
She loves kombucha, travel, and questioning the status quo.
You can find her on IG: @carollyn.mushro