5 Surprising Sources of Indoor Air Pollution & How to Tackle Them

How dirty is the air inside your home? Indoor air quality can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air (yes, you read that right!). Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that most Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, this is a big deal. Here are five surprising sources of indoor air pollution – and what you can do about them. 

Garage Fumes 

Harmful gases and fumes from your attached garage can work their way into your living space and pollute the air inside. Cars, mowers, paints, weed killers, lubricants, solvents, and harsh cleaners all contain or generate harmful substances that can enter your home through open doors, gaps around closed doors, air ducts, and more. A 2016 study found measurable quantities of benzene (a gasoline-related pollutant) inside homes with attached garages while finding little in those without an attached garage. Additionally, carbon monoxide generated in your garage can seep into your home in a significant enough quantity to trigger carbon monoxide detectors. Yikes! Here are a few steps to minimize the amount of garage-related air pollution inside your home: 

  • Always avoid running your car, lawnmower, motorcycle, weed eater, or any other gasoline-powered item any longer than necessary while in the garage. 
  • Never start your car or any other internal combustion engine when the garage door is closed. 
  • Seal the gaps around the door leading from the garage into the house. 
  • Never let cans of paint thinner, solvents, and other noxious liquids sit uncovered. Remember: If you can smell any chemicals, it means that potentially harmful fumes are in the garage air. Not only are you breathing them in whenever you are in your garage, but they can also enter your home.

Lemon-Scented Household Products 

Yes, it’s true: those lemon-fresh scented candles, cleaning products, and air fresheners make your home smell amazing. Unfortunately, despite that “all-natural” label, the chemicals that your favorite citrus-scented products emit can turn your indoor air into a toxic brew. What’s the deal? Well, the natural ingredient that gives scented air fresheners, cleaning products, and candles that fresh, lemony scent is called limonene – the oil extracted from the peels of citrus fruits. Limonene is a known volatile organic compound (VOC). And while not all VOCs are harmful, limonene becomes especially dangerous when it mixes with ground-level ozone, which is present in most homes. When combined, limonene and ground-level ozone form formaldehyde, a carcinogen known to cause cancer.

How can you reduce the indoor pollution that limonene creates? 

The first step is to get rid of any products in your home that contain the VOC. The best method is to simply read product labels to make sure they don’t contain limonene. If you’ve been using these products, open your windows to air out your home. You can also invest in a HEPA air purifier with a filtration system capable of filtering VOCs. Finally, rather than using scented cleaners and air fresheners, opt for Vital Oxide for cleaning and odor eliminating. Vital Oxide is VOC-free and works by neutralizing odors rather than covering them up with fragrance. 

Nonstick Cookware

Cooking with nonstick cookware may release toxic fumes at very high temperatures. Nonstick coatings can emit chemicals when heated above 500 degrees. It’s best to avoid using nonstick cookware in very hot ovens or on high on stovetops and always use an exhaust fan. 

Consider using cast iron or stainless steel pots and pans rather than nonstick cookware to avoid these harmful fumes. 

Thirdhand Smoke 

Tobacco smoke is a common cause of indoor air pollution. Tobacco smoke – including secondhand and even thirdhand smoke – is unhealthy for everyone, especially for young children, people with asthma, and those with compromised immune systems. 

How to get rid of smoke stench and residue inside your home: 

  • Go smoke-free. If that’s not an option, never smoke indoors. When smoking outdoors, wear an overcoat and remove it when coming inside.
  • If you move into a home or purchase a vehicle that was previously smoked in, it’s imperative to remove the carcinogenic residue. Three months after smokers move out of a house and nonsmokers move in, tobacco residues remain that can be picked up and ingested by the new residents, a San Diego State University study shows. The study looked at what’s called thirdhand smoke, the pollutants left clinging to walls, carpeting, furniture, and even the dust in a room after a smoker has left moments or even months before. After cleaning and removing dust and grime, use Vital Oxide to eliminate any lingering odors from tobacco smoke completely. Rather than masking odors, Vital Oxide works by oxidation. Vital Oxide removes odors caused by tobacco smoke, fire smoke, musty odors, stale cooking odors, and more. Simply spray, fog, or wipe on Vital Oxide full-strength and let air dry to provide long-lasting residual deodorizing action.

Cleaning Products 

Most conventional cleaners and disinfectants are loaded with harsh chemicals and harmful VOCs that pollute the air inside your home. Products containing ammonia or bleach not only cause air pollution but can also aggravate those with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory diseases. And more than having harsh formulas, mixing common household cleaning products (whether it's on purpose or by accident) can result in a reaction that causes toxic, deadly fumes or even an explosion. It’s one thing to say, “Do not mix ammonia with bleach,” but it’s not always easy to know which products contain these two chemicals. According to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Poison Control Centers have seen a 20% increase in daily calls for cleaner and disinfectant accidents amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Remember, any time you use a chemical cleaning solution, it emits fumes into the air that you inevitably end up breathing. The best way to decrease the pollutants caused by conventional cleaners is to reduce the number of different cleaning products and harsh chemicals you use in your home and be very selective of the products you choose. 

Related: What You Need to Know About Cleaning Chemicals & Lung Health

Vital Oxide is the ideal multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant product for your home, workplace, and beyond. Vital Oxide is bleach-free, ammonia-free, VOC-free, fragrance-free, allergen-free, and non-corrosive to most treated articles. Our passion is providing you with a product that keeps your environment clean and fresh without harsh chemicals.

At Vital Oxide, we’re proud to offer a revolutionary disinfectant powerful enough to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria without harsh chemicals. Follow us on Instagram (@vitaloxideofficial) for more great cleaning and disinfecting tips. If you have any questions, please Contact Us or Send Us a Message on Facebook. We're here to help! 

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