5 Tips to Protect Your Indoor Air & Your Baby

Lullaby 10/26/2012

Did you know that indoor air is typically 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air - even in urban areas? Everything from furnishings and appliances to cleaners and care products release contaminants into the air we breathe. And, without adequate ventilation, the levels can build and build.

During the winter, most of us keep things closed up nice and tight in an effort to keep the cold out, but it also means we’re trapping all those gasses inside. Consider the easy tips below to protect your indoor air - not just during winter, but all year long. It’s better for you and it’s much safer for your baby who breathes more air per pound of body weight and whose developing body is more vulnerable to chemical exposures.

5 Tips to Protect Your Indoor Air

1. Crack a window. Even on cold days, crack a window open. Even just a few minutes can have a significant impact on your indoor air. Let the bad air out and better air in.

2. Grow indoor plants. Plants are nature’s air filters. NASA’s done studies to find out which ones work best to use in the space station, and they found the following list of plants absorb common contaminants like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

• Hedera helix - English ivy
• Chlorophytum comosum 
spider plant
• Epipiremnum aureum 
golden pothos
• Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa' - peace lily
• Aglaonema modestum - Chinese evergreen
• Chamaedorea sefritzii  - bamboo or reed palm
• Sansevieria trifasciata - snake plant
• Philodendron scandens `oxycardium'  - heartleaf philodendron
• Philodendron selloum  - selloum philodendron
• Philodendron domesticum - elephant ear philodendron
• Dracaena marginata  - red-edged dracaena
• Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana'  - cornstalk dracaena
• Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig'  - Janet Craig dracaena
• Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii' -  Warneck dracaena
• Ficus benjamina - weeping fig

(Note: Keep poisonous plants out of reach from children and pets.)

3. Monitor your air. Most people know to install smoke detectors throughout the home, but carbon dioxide and radon detectors are just as important. Carbon dioxide poisoning from leaking appliances can be fatal. Radon, a natural gas that can seep in through basements and foundations, is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Both gases are colorless and odorless, so having detectors is the only way to know if they’re in your air.

4. Change your furnace filter. Most people use standard filters in their furnaces that simply catch enough debris to protect the inner workings of the appliance, but do little to protect indoor air quality. Invest in higher quality filters and expect to change them every couple of months.

5. Choose safer products. Since the main source of pollution in your home is from the products you bring in to it, choosing safer products is the most important thing you can do to protect your indoor air. Clearly you can’t change all of your shopping habits at once, so start where it matters most: the nursery.

Do you take any steps to winterize your home? Anything that helps with indoor air quality? Share your tips in the comments!

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or recommendations. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the issues raised here.