Take a deep breath through your nose, slowly filling up your lungs. Then slowly push the air out through your mouth. Think about your nose, which acts as a filter and humidifier of the air you breathe into the lungs, processing that healing, life-giving oxygen. Then focus on expelling the by-product, carbon dioxide, out of your mouth, into the air around you.
Besides water, air is the only way to feed the human body oxygen. That makes it absolutely essential, fundamental, and critical for good health. Major air pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and particle pollution are proven to increase the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) , even after short-term exposures. Other health risks linked to air pollution include: asthma, stroke, decline in cognitive function, dementia, autism, inflammation, high blood pressure, acceleration of atherosclerosis, and overall cardiovascular health and brain health. Researchers estimate about an 18% increase in the life span for people living in rural or metropolitan counties and attributed it to lower air pollution. Kind of makes you want to stay indoors, right? Sadly, the air inside your home, office, school (even our car!) is about seven times more polluted than the outdoor air.
Major contributors are the things you can’t see, including:
Air fragrances: Candles (heavily fragranced, petroleum-based are the worst culprits), incense, “air re-fresheners” (huge oxymoron), and air deodorizers and disinfectants (i.e. Lysol and Fabreeze). The air in your lungs does not need to smell good. It needs to be clear of chemicals, phthalates, and harmful additives.
Volatile Organic Compound’s (VOC’s): Gas-off from dry cleaning, paint, carpet, deadly formaldehyde, particle and pressed boards, furniture, PVC Shower Curtains, household mattresses and other furniture containing flame resistant chemicals PBDEs & PBBs –
Pesticides, tobacco smoke, gas and other fuels, paint strippers, cosmetics (hairsprays and perfume), cleaning products containing ammonia, chlorine, benzene, floor wax, wood or other cleaners with petroleum (mineral) ingredients, wood burning stoves or fireplaces, and gas appliances.
So how do we “clear” the air?
1. Increase Flow. The most important thing is to increase the air flow in the building. That means, open the windows and doors and get good air movement going. This step is absolutely essential. You must move the air to clean it. Install small fans in hard to ventilate places such as the laundry room and bathroom. Air flow also decreases mold as it reduces moisture, which is important as mold can have a profound effect on health.
2. Implement A No Idle Policy. Never “idle” your car inside the garage. Do not even start the engine without making sure you can pull out quickly and safely. A swift exit is key. In carpool, turn off the engine. This policy should be in force at every school across the country. Not only does this deadly pollution make its way into the buildings, but into the lungs of our precious children. Same with buses- make sure the school has a no idle policy in place. If your child takes the bus, educate them on the dangers of vehicle emissions. Vehicle exhaust is deadly.
3. Identify And Eliminate Air Violators. Use the above list as a guide to “air violators” and discontinue their use immediately. Clean air violators out of your home and office. Be sure and properly dispose of all chemicals, cleaners, fuels, etc or the problem will only mutate to the local water source.
4. Test Your Air. Have your air tested if high allergies, migraines, or unexplained health problems plague anyone in your family. Make sure your house meets airPlus standards.
5. Filter, Filter, Filter. Use a HEPA filter on vacuum cleaners and HVAC air filters. Research the EPA’s Guide for Residential Air Filters and make sure you are taking necessary steps to ensure air health in your home.
6. Let In The Light. Get as much natural sunlight into your home as possible. The sun is a natural disinfectant and also kills most mold spores.
7. Dust. Use Microfiber cleaning towels to frequently remove dust, allergens and pet dander from furniture, floors, counter tops, and blinds.
8. Go Green. Channel your green thumb and grow lots of indoor plants to naturally filter the air. NASA research confirms the use of household plants improves air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and eliminating benzene and formaldehyde. Here is a full list of air-purifying plants.
Taking these small steps will ensure you and your family can breathe deeply and be closer to complete health. Wherever you can, through daily choices, writing elected officials, contacting school officials to initiate a no-idle policy, be an advocate for clean air, as it will give us a healthier earth for generations to come. Then enjoy a nice, long, deep breath of clean fresh… air!
More information on the air we breathe can be found from these helpful sites:
The American Lung association