Healthy Homes

by Ms. S on December 9, 2009

Please note that this section contains my personal notes from my readings on this topic.

“In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.  Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors.  Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

“The air inside your home is 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside.”

Squeaky Green (2008) by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry; page 17

“In order to conserve energy resources, over the past 25 years buildings have been ever more efficiently sealed from the air outside.  While tightly sealed buildings reduce energy consumption, gases from synthetic materials are trapped inside with deleterious effects upon the well-being of their occupants.  Many people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, and long-term exposure to these chemical vapors has brought dramatic increases in the number of cases of allergy, asthma, chemical hypersensitivity and cancer.

Indoor air pollution is now considered by many experts to be one of the major threats to health.  Attempts to reduce the incidence of “sick building syndrome” have resulted in increased ventilation, the use of low-emission building materials and furnishings, and better preventive maintenance procedures.  However, problems still persist.  Ironically, the technology arising from futuristic space exploration may have revealed natural solutions that are as old as the earth itself.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), faced with the task of creating a life-support system for planned moon bases, began extensive studies on treating and recycling air and wastewater.  These studies led NASA scientists to ask a very important question.  How does the earth produce and sustain clean air?  The answer, of course, is through the living processes of plants.  With this basic knowledge, NASA scientists began to study the development of sustainable, closed ecological life-support facilities.  Working toward these goals, scientists at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi discovered that houseplants could purify and revitalize air in sealed test-chambers.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; pages 6 – 7

“We are used to thinking of the indoor environment as a safe haven from the evils of air pollution…  Yet modern scientific research indicates that the indoor environment may be as much as ten times more polluted than the outdoor environment…  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five threats to public health.  Yet millions of people fail to realize the serious nature of the problem, or even worse, fail to recognize that there is a problem.  Today, people living in industrialized societies spend as much as 90 percent of their lives indoors.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; page 8

“Ventilation helps to control indoor air pollution by diluting stale indoor air with fresh outside air.  Of course, a presumption is made that the outside air is clean, which may not be the case.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; page 9

“Respiratory infections are a well-known consequence of poorly maintained air-conditioning systems.  Maintenance of such systems is an important factor in assuring good air quality.  In the home, air filters, when regularly replaced, can help to clean outside air as it enters the building.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; page 9

“Low relative-humidity levels are also associated with poor indoor air quality.  Healthy humidity levels range between 35 and 65 percent…  Frequent colds, allergic attacks and asthma during winter months are often caused by low relative humidity…  Humidity levels in excess of 70 percent can also result in indoor air quality problems.  Humidity in this range may cause mold and mildew damage to furniture and electronic equipment and may create health problems for building occupants.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; page 9

“In recent decades, a subtle change in the composition of building materials and furnishings has been taking place.  Pressed wood products or fiberboard often replace natural wood in building construction; wall-to-wall carpeting is ever more common; furnishings in the home and office are no longer made mostly of natural materials, but are composed of synthetics that are held together with a variety of glues and resins.  A plethora of electronic devices for our comfort, work or pleasure are found in our homes, offices and public buildings.  These devices are known to emit various organic compounds.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; pages 9 – 10

“Humans are also a source of pollution, especially when living or working in closed, poorly ventilated areas…  Over a period of many years Russian and American space scientists established that, in addition to carbon dioxide, we release as many as 150 volatile substances into the atmosphere, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen, methane, alcohols, phenols, methyl indol, aldehydes, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, volatile fatty acids, indol, mercaptans and nitrogen oxides (dioxide).  Substances emitted through normal biological processes are termed bioeffluents.  Studies have been conducted to determine the rate of bioeffluent emissions for each person.  They have shown that acetone, ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol and ethyl acetate are the principal bioeffluents emitted.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; pages 10 – 11

“To sum up, the three primary sources of poor indoor air quality are: hermetically sealed buildings and their synthetic furnishings, reduced ventilation, and human bioeffluents.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; page 11

“In August 1989 the EPA submitted a report to the US Congress on the quality of indoor air found in ten energy-efficient public buildings.  Some chemical concentrations were 100 times greater than normal background levels.  This report stated that “sufficient evidence exists to conclude that indoor air pollution represents a major portion of the public’s exposure to air pollution and may pose serious acute and chronic health risk”  Indoor air pollution may pose an even greater threat than outdoor pollution — primarily because of the greater length of exposure.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; page 11

“Indoor air pollution could also be a major factor in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  SIDS, or crib death, is the sudden unexpected death due to unknown causes of infants between the ages of two weeks and one year.  Most cases of SIDS occur between two and four months of age…  studies have found SIDS is more frequent during cold months, when air pollution problems are also more prevalent.  One possible explanation for SIDS is that babies become sensitized to synthetic chemicals even before birth.  Fetuses are exposed to the same pollutants as their mothers, but their dynamic growth state makes them more vulnerable to the adverse effects of such exposure.  SIDS has also been linked to exposure to tobacco smoke.

Most newborn babies come home from hospitals to a freshly painted nursery, complete with new carpeting, crib, mattresses, blankets, clothing and toys, in other words, a room that is likely to be high in chemical emissions…  Whever possible, avoid exposing a young baby to new products made of synthetic materials unless the products are first washed several times or allowed to air outdoors.”

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; pages 12 – 13

Read more about toxins in our homes:

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