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Did you know that, on average, we spend 90% of our time indoors. That could be in an office setting or at home. If you're not reading labels on items including furniture, accessories, fabrics, pet toys, carpeting and cleaning supplies, ( the list is significantly more extensive) then you may be exposing yourself and your family to toxic chemicals that off-gas into the air constantly. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Some brief examples:
Furniture is frequently made with materials and adhesives (glue) including MDF (Medium density fiberboard), press board, and other wood products imported from Asia that contain formalin, formaldehyde, and toxic finishes.Accessories made in China are frequently painted with colorants that are toxic to hold as well as inhale. Watch out for lead in paints, wire baskets, string lights, 'decorative use only' ceramics and vases etc... Fabrics are often sprayed with flame retardants, nano particles that help with water and stain resistance, and even fabric protectors that are toxic. Ever wonder how they got the glowing green ball you throw to your dog? If it's made in China, beware of the chemicals in the colorant and the plastic and don't allow your dog to chew and swallow them. I recommend eco-friendly, non-toxic toys made in the US. Even Europe has banned these pet toys.The backing and adhesives in carpeting have come a long way, but you need to read the label on what you are purchasing. Even gym and tumbling mats have substances that off-gas, and again, have been studied and banned in Europe.Air fresheners are the worst products you can use. They often contain phthalate and even insecticides. Take a look at what the NRDC says. Household cleaners are a wate land of chemicals that include petroleum distillates, chlorine, insecticde, formaldehyde, thiourea, nonlyphenol ethoxylate, methoxydiglycol and so many more. If the label says AVOID contact with skin, and use in a well ventilated area, don't use it to clean your home. DIY cleaners are safe and effective.
So. other than banning these items - especially in environments with children and older adults - what can you do? Buy plants. Here are the top three- easy care - plants that you can place strategically in your home and office, to assist in purifying your air.
1. Areca Palm : While you’re spending time in your room, this plant is hard at work doing its best oxygen delivery in the daytime. For optimal air cleaning you should have one 4' high plant per room.
2. Mother-in-Law's Tongue or snake plant: Great for a bedroom since it works best delivering oxygen in the evening. Grab 6-8 plants per person.
3. Peace Lilly: Filters formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and a host of other volatile organic compounds (VOC).
If you’re heading out to the plant nursery NASA studies recommend that you use one 6-8 inch diameter houseplant for every 100 square feet of your home. Be sure to keep the foliage clean and dust free so that nothing is blocking their breathing, and keep the top of soil clean and free of debris (in some cases, that's actually where these plants filter). Before you buy any natural fresheners, however, make sure your pets will be safe. Check all plants for toxicity to dogs and cats via the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals so your furry friends don’t find a fatal salad to snack on.
Can’t afford all these plants/don’t have the green thumb to care for all of them? It’s okay, even if you can just add one or two, they’ll still be helping you out. Plus, these three are the proven heavy-hitters, but there are even more for you to choose from that will help reduce household toxins like benzene, toluene, octane, alpha-pinene and TCE: