The idea of air pollution conjures up images of traffic jams and smokey cities, big factories and power plants. You probably don't immediately think of your own home, but actually, the air inside your home can be just as polluted as the outside air - and in many cases, more than 100 times more toxic. As a keen off-gridder, you're already trying to help minimize your impact on the environment, but have you thought about how to help your own health by turning your attention to the air inside your home?
What Causes Interior Air Pollution?
Some causes of interior air pollution will come as no surprise: burning solid fuel and smoking are two of the biggest contributors. However, they're not the only ones - and some of the culprits might come as a shock.
- Furniture can be held together with toxic adhesives which release chemicals over time. Upholstery and flooring may also be treated with these substances.
- Cleaning products, scented laundry detergent, beauty, and personal care products can release toxins into the air.
- Moisture also plays a big role in air quality. Mold, dust mites, and other allergens thrive in a high humidity environment, and inhaling spores can cause symptoms similar to a common cold.
Poor air quality can increase the risk of asthma, allergic reactions, and cause or worsen other cardiorespiratory diseases, particularly in children and the elderly. It can even make you a less productive worker.
Don't Add to the Indoor Air Pollution Problem
The first thing you can do is make sure that you are not adding to the problem. Reduce your use of chemical-based products in favor of natural or homemade ones, and store any necessary chemicals in an outbuilding or garage. Limit your use of combustibles, including artificially scented candles and cigarettes. As an off-gridder, you may well heat your home with a traditional fire or stove so make sure that you have adequate ventilation systems to deal with their emissions. Keep your home well ventilated, opening windows or running exhaust fans after taking showers or using any kind of chemicals.
Taking Steps to Reduce Pollution
To reduce the air pollution in your home, installing an approved HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) is one route. HVAC systems help to filter and purify the air in your home and ensure the environmental conditions in the house do not encourage mold growth. However, this is a major expense, so you'll want to carefully consider the size system you will need as well as the impact this would have on your energy consumption and environmental footprint.
A more economical approach (especially for moderate-sized homes) is to get a HealthMate Air Cleaner that uses a state-of-the-art 4-stage filter to remove smoke, dust, pollen, chemicals, gasses, viruses, bacteria, and more from up to 1500 square feet of living space. The HealthMate is on casters and can be moved from room to room.
You should also consider some more natural ways to purify the air in your home. Try adding houseplants or baskets of purifying charcoal around the house.
Air pollution in the home can have a big impact on you and your family's health and overall quality of life. Managing your use of chemicals and keeping your home well ventilated can make a really big difference, so take a look at what you could do to switch things up for the better. To learn even more, the Solar Living Sourcebook has lots of detailed information about indoor air purification in chapter 9.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.