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Monday, January 25, 2010

Chemically Speaking Bonus Part: Managing Indoor Pollution

As Richard pointed out in a comment on my post about beauty products, there are many sources of chemical exposure in the form of indoor pollution. Richard specifically mentions formaldehyde, there are a number of other ones to point out. While cleaning supplies, household paints, and pesticides/insecticides account for some of this pollution, you should be aware of some of the other sources and take measures in your home to reduce it. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside the typical home is on average 2-5 times more polluted than the air just outside—and in extreme cases 100 times more contaminated.

Some things that can be done:
  • Test for radon, formaldehyde, mold, lead, and asbestos.
  • Use up-to-date carbon monoxide detectors and ensure you change the batteries according to the package directions or guidelines put forth by your state.
  • Ensure your home has proper ventilation systems
  • Use air purifier, preferably HEPA to reduce airborne pollutants and allergens.
  • Change the filter on your furnace regularly, which blows air throughout your home.
  • Keep indoor plants, which have been shown to drastically reduce indoor pollution and increase oxygen.
  • Use greener household cleaners/detergents.
  • Use fragrance free products.
  • Remove or properly store paints, polyurethanes, and other household chemicals.
  • Air out your home regularly, by opening windows and running fans (not during pollen season if you have environmental allergies like I do).
  • Avoid purchasing furniture/building materials made with pressed wood--especially baby furniture. Find out what types of chemicals are used in the types of furniture bought. Some glues contain formaldehyde.
  • Hold off on any major building plans in your home while pregnant including ripping up carpet or remodeling--if you do choose to paint, use no-voc paint and avoid being in contact while painting is occurring and until the area can be properly ventilated.
  • Let all new furniture, etc have time to gas off before exposing self or baby.
  • Avoid using regular dry cleaners. If necessary, minimize and remove all plastic coverings/materials before bringing item into your home. Research more "environmentally-friendly" dry cleaners that use less toxic chemicals.
  • Avoid using vinyl or PVC near self/infant as these materials also let off toxic gases.

Some more resources on indoor pollution and ways to circumvent known issues:

In health and wellness,


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