This month, a study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology identified 49 toxic chemicals in household dust — many linked to an increased risk of a number of health hazards, including cancer and infertility. These chemicals come from many common household items, including cleaning products, cosmetic and beauty products, electrical goods and flooring and furniture.

And past research has shown that the quality of air in our homes and offices is often three to five times worse than the outdoor air.

Indoor air quality is a complex issue. Air pollution has been linked to medical conditions such as allergies, chemical sensitivities, fatigue, asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis and cardiovascular disease.

Keeping household air quality pure can be easily accomplished with a few approaches.

When I was stationed in the Army in Germany at Ray Barracks (incidentally, where Elvis was stationed), there was a resort town nearby that had mineral springs water flowing over a large wall. It created mineral formations of salts that the town used as a kind of air filter. It would be nice to do this for an entire village or town, but we can control our air quality within our homes, schools and workplaces with two simpler approaches.

An indoor air filter can improve air quality. Some air filters today are capable of being clean-room filters, removing 99.97 percent of all airborne particulate matter larger than 0.3 microns, while eliminating more than 3,000 toxic gases and odors. An optimal air filter should have activated carbon and True Medical HEPA filtration media. Carbon zeolite can filter out toxic gases and odors while True Medical HEPA filter media removes sub-micron particles.

Air filters are able to decrease allergen loads, remove odors, gases, chemicals, airborne dust and dander, and pet odors. The bedroom is the most important place for an air filter at home, but they can be used in any room.

Numerous studies, including by NASA, American Journal of Public Health and others, point to indoor plants as a natural air filter. (They add beauty and oxygen to a room, as well.) Plants are capable of phytoremediation: removing indoor air pollutants and toxins from the environment.

According to a recent study by the State University of New York at Oswego, house plants are a good way to absorb volatile chemical compounds in the air. This study found that the jade plant is one of the most beneficial for eliminating toxic household pollutants. Other studies point to the spider plant and snake plant, as well as some cacti, in improving air quality.

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