Surprisingly, home decor can have a significant impact on one’s health. Harmful chemicals lurk in every corner of our homes, from couch cushions and window curtains to carpets and bed sheets, making decorating an even more complicated task than it already is.
Fortunately, avoiding these health risks does not always mean investing in expensive home improvements and renovations. Beyond making some lifestyle changes, going for home products and materials that release the least pollution will help improve your home’s air quality and keep your family healthy.
By making simple yet smarter choices, you can turn your home into a beautiful, safe, and sustainable place for the entire household.
Choose Solid Wood over Pressed Wood
Most wood furniture pieces nowadays are made from medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, or plywood. All these release formaldehyde, a pungent-smelling, colorless gas that can cause skin rash, wheezing, allergic reactions, as well as eye, nose, and throat irritation.
Prior to purchasing any new furniture, make sure to check if it is solid wood. Many pieces of wood furniture have solid wood surfaces, but then have plywood or particleboard shelves, sides, and bottoms just so manufacturers can save on production.
Solid wood furniture may be more expensive than their pressed wood counterparts, but they are generally of higher quality, so they can be expected to have a longer lifespan.
Grow Plants Indoors
It turns out there’s more to potted plants than just a decor that livens up a space. They also act as natural filters that purify the air we breathe indoors. Some species are even effective absorbers of pollutants emitted by electronic equipment, carpets, and furniture. In fact, specific indoor plant varieties can rid homes about 89 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
One of the most popular air purifying species is palm. Known to minimize the presence of benzene, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde, this plant also acts as a welcomed distraction from an otherwise drab surrounding and is perfect for lifting spirits. Other effective air detoxifying plants include rubber plants, ferns, peace lilies, orchids, and spider ferns. So start filling your home with lush, potted greenery.
Install an Air Quality Sensor
They say prevention is better than cure and what better way to prevent indoor air pollution than by being able to detect and measure it. An air quality sensing device can monitor the level of toxic gasses, such as carbon monoxide, in the air to prevent poisoning. It can also pick up data about triggers and irritants, like dust, pollen, and particulate matter, so you can avoid allergies and asthma symptoms.
Beyond shielding you from harmful air impurities and keeping you healthy, a modern air quality sensor adds a visual interest to a room.
Opt for Fuss-Free Flooring
This means steering clear of carpets and similar products that could house thousands, probably millions, of nasty irritants including pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and mold. These things are known to aggravate the symptoms of asthma and allergies, especially among children, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems.
Instead of carpets, consider easy to clean flooring such as bamboo. It is extremely durable and stronger than maple or oak. It also does not accumulate dust and grime like wall-to-wall carpet flooring does, neither does it have grout lines, so it won’t support mold growth.
If you crave for soft underfoot, you can warm up the hard flooring with area rugs that are made from organic wool or cotton so they can be easily washed and taken outdoors to air dry.
Lose Some Textiles in the Bedroom
Dust mites are some of the leading causes of allergy symptoms, including constant sneezing, coughing and wheezing, and difficulty in breathing. If you have a quilted headboard, upholstered chairs, a carpet, thick drapery, and tons of pillows in your bedroom, you could be in deep trouble. Dust mites love these places. To make it worse, they feed on dead skin cells so the bedroom is their favorite breeding ground.
Consider losing some of these dust catchers for an easier-to-maintain-dust-free environment. Instead of using normal bed sheets and pillow cases, opt for allergen-proof covers. And replace your thick curtains with sheer, light ones. If you want to keep the upholstered furniture and quilted headboard, make sure to vacuum on a regular basis.
Use Low-VOC Paint
Stains, primers, paints and other coatings generate up to nine percent of VOC emissions at home. If you are planning on updating your walls or old furniture, choose sealing products or paint that emit low or zero VOCs. Better yet, buy clay or milk paints. Unlike low-VOC paints, these all natural construction products do not contain binders, chemical-based pigments, and additives that pollute indoor air because they are manufactured from mineral and plant ingredients.
Have a Ventilation System
Modern homes are often sealed so tightly that even the tiniest amount of fresh air can’t enter. To counteract this, homes must have an efficient exhaust system, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom. A ventilation system exhausts stale indoor air. It also expels nitrogen dioxide, water vapor, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other air pollutants produced by gas stoves, keeping the air inside homes clean. In the bathroom, exhaust fans help minimize condensation and mold buildup.
To allow for natural ventilation, simply open up your windows to let fresh air seep into your home during mild weather conditions or while you sleep.
In the past, going green simply meant segregating the trash and buying organic greens. These days, there are several other steps you can take to create a healthier and safer home environment and it starts with making simple changes in your home.