Green Options › How To's › How To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

How To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Also called IAQ, people underestimate the importance of keeping their living and working spaces safe. Some suggestions:


  1. If you have an air filter, keep it clean so that it removes the most air pollutants possible.
  2. Carpet can drag your IAQ right down. Carpets are traditionally made with synthetic materials that off-gas toxic chemicals. These materials also make carpet hard to recycle (and therefore, most just go straight to the landfill). Carpets also can be home to pests and mildew. Avoid these issues by checking out the Shaw Contract Group, Interface, or Milliken Carpet.
  3. Look for pieces of furniture that are not coated in harmful, off-gassing chemicals. Try Greenguard-certified products, Izzy Design, Haworth’s Zody chair, the Kobe Sofa Futon Bed, or Steelcase’s Think chair.
  4. Buy a friendly plant. Some of the best plants for removing air pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene include the peace lily, bamboo palm, English ivy, mums, and gerbera daisies.  Check out this table from the book Healthy Home and Office (pg. 38) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton to see which plants are best for dealing with benzene, trichlorethylene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide.


    Air Pollutant Removal By House Plants Over 24 Hours

    House Plant Chemical Pollutant Initial ppm % Removed
    English Ivy Benzene 0.235 90 %
      Trichlorethylene 0.174 11 %
    Peace Lily Benzene 0.166 80 %
      Formaldehyde 10.0 50 %
      Trichlorethylene 20.0 50 %
    Spider Plant Formaldehyde 14.0 86 %
      Carbon Monoxide 128.0 96 %
    Chrysanthemum Benzene 58.0 54 %
      Formaldehyde 18.0 61 %
      Trichlorethylene 17.0 41 %
    Mother-in-law tongue Benzene 0.156 53 %
      Trichlorethylene 0.269 13 %
    Golden Pathos Benzene 0.156 53 %
      Formaldehyde 18.0 67 %
      Carbon Monoxide 113.0 75 %
    Madag Dragon Tree Benzene 0.176 79 %
      Formaldehyde 15.0 60 %
      Trichlorethylene 0.136 13 %
    Waneckii Benzene 0.182 70 %
      Formaldehyde 8.0 50 %
      Trichlorethylene 17.0 24 %
    Heart Leaf Formaldehyde 27.0 71 %
    Corn Plant Formaldehyde 20.0 70 %
    Chinese Evergreen Benzene 0.204 48 %
  5. Coat your walls in natural paints and wallcoverings that do not off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

  6. Be careful about what cleaning supplies you use- many contain toxic chemicals!  If your cleaner says that it should only used with good ventilation, it's time to shop for greener cleaners.  Check out Huddler's suggested cleaning products.  Alternatively, Huddler has some great recipes for homemade cleaners

  7. Don't use commercial air fresheners!  These just cover up smells with chemical-based fragrances.  Baking soda is a great way to naturally absorb odors.

  8. Someone in your household smoke?  Send smokers outsideLevels of air pollution inside the home can be two to five times higher (and occasionally 100 times higher) than outdoor levels. (Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2002) 

  9. On days when the outdoor air quality is good (less than 50 according to the World Health Organization), open your windows and let the fresh air in. 

  10. Check your air quality now. If you live in a damp climate, use a dehumidifier to keep your humidity level around 45%.  This will cut down on mold and dustmites.


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Green Options › How To's › How To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality